For hospital systems, the name of the game is to deliver value by providing the highest quality care at the lowest possible cost. As a key element of strategy, developing a robust ambulatory platform fills the bill in many ways, says Regent’s Chief Development Officer Thomas Crossen: it lowers costs, boosts accessibility of care, improves patient outcomes, strengthens loyalty, and increases physician satisfaction.
And by including joint venture ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the mix, hospitals gain these advantages and more, Crossen suggests.
“Integrating ASCs with an acute care hospital offers an accessible care setting for low-acuity patients,” he explains, “and empowers patients to exercise choice about where they receive care, whether at the hospital or from ambulatory settings in their communities for more convenient and routine care. In turn, a hospital partner helps the ASCs deal with business issues such as market saturation and unfavorable reimbursements.”
Crossen outlines four specific ways ASC partnerships can drive value for a health system, through cost savings, improved patient/physician/payer satisfaction, and additional revenue.
- Efficient Procedures: Due to high overhead costs in inpatient surgical units, an ASC is a better option for many patient cases — both in terms of quality of care and cost. Total joint replacement is a good example. As the number of total joint procedures increases with our aging population, advances in pain control and surgical techniques are allowing more of them to be performed in the more efficient ASC setting. Transitioning these cases to the ambulatory network makes sense for hospitals looking to improve productivity and cost management: surgeons can perform up to two more procedures every day, and more predictable schedules reduce staff overtime costs.
- Payer Value: Moving case volume out of the hospital into a surgery center yields a 15 percent to 75 percent cost savings depending on the number or type of patient cases that are reassigned to the ambulatory setting, addressing a key goal of value-based care. For hospitals, case volume shifts free up inpatient resources for critical cases and help recoup their investment in the ASC.
- Physician Engagement: While hospitals once saw referring cases to ASCs as cannibalizing cases from their inpatient operations, innovative hospitals are proving that engaging physicians through joint venture partnerships with ASCs, versus hospital employment, can generate returns that offset any inpatient revenue losses. Further, hospitals benefit from the physician-led structure of ASCs, which follows systematic value-based care protocols including physician investment and engagement in the center, and associated assurances for quality and safety.
- Patient Preference: In addition, shifting cases from the hospital to an ASC can also provide a better overall experience for patients: they can choose a more convenient location to receive care and are likely to encounter fewer of the scheduling complications common in hospitals, such as unscheduled emergency procedures that delay both surgical teams and scheduled patients.
To learn more about Regent Surgical Health’s approach to ASC joint-venture partnerships, please contact Thomas Crossen at 708.492.0531.