Focus and cut costs to thrive in Ambulatory Surgery Center market
Since 2010, the ambulatory surgery center (ASCs) market has neither grown nor declined. ASCs start, shut-down and acquire other ASCs. There are over 5,400 surgery centers. Available physicians are limited and hospitals continue to pose a strong competition – sometimes partnering with ASCs. According to arecent Becker’s ASC article, ASCs will need to excel in a single specialty and run a very low cost center model to sustain in the future.
There are three dominant specialties in the ASC market: orthopedics, gastroenterology and ophthalmology. Let’s the example of ASC centers focused on gastroenterology. As medical science advances and a greater number of newer procedures become eligible for insurance reimbursement, gastroenterologists must develop deeper focus within the specialty. In 2014, there are 26 new codes for gastroenterology – suggesting newer ways to focus, get reimbursed and build expertise. A group must focus on EUS, another on EGD or esophagoscopy and so on. This method of divide and conquer would allow an ASC to be known as a leader in the field within their market and at the same time cover a wide range of procedures within the specialty.
ASCs can further add plans that involve diet and exercise, virtual follow-ups for a monthly fee. This creates additional revenue streams based on deeper understanding of patients and their conditions. It also engages patients and their families better and brings them back to the center on a regular basis.
Outsourcing activities or tasks in a controlled and methodical manner is clearly a way to bring costs of administrative tasks down. Identify tasks that are lower on the complexity scale and delegate and outsource them. When they aren’t core to the business model (i.e., treating patients), tasks such as billing, coding, denial management, patient collections, accounting, credentialing, pre-authorizations and so on will tend to be distractions from the core focus of the surgery center. Outsourcing companies centralize operations for a large number of providers, giving them benefits of scale – these cost savings are typically passed on to the center that could then pass them on to patients.
According to the ASC Value Driver Survey, 24% of ASCs experience stable volume, 27% reported growing volume and 27 percent declining volume. In the same survey, respondents cited competition from other ASCs and hospitals as one of their biggest challenges. Clearly, it’s a time to focus and cut costs to stay competitive.