Top issues facing ambulatory surgery center (ASC) leaders were addressed by a panel of experts at Becker’s Spine Review’s recent 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven Conference in June. The panel included Regent’s Chief Development Officer Jeffrey Simmons, as well as leaders from two ASCs — Jack Jensen, MD, Founder of Houston-based Athletic Orthopedics & Knee Center, and John Prunskis, MD, Medical Director at Chicago-based Illinois Pain Institute.

The discussion centered on the reality that, as part of a maturing industry, ASCs are challenged by market saturation, reduced revenues due to the healthcare industry’s shift toward value-based care, and a more competitive physician pool. Simmons shared thoughts based on Regent’s breadth of experience helping ASCs grapple with the resulting issues of physician recruitment, reimbursement, and ASC affiliations.

According to Simmons, the days are gone when an ASC could combat market pressures such as dips in volume or profit by simply recruiting more doctors. Today, the panel agreed, ASCs are challenged to match salaries offered through hospital employment. And, while procedures are steadily shifting from inpatient to outpatient settings, the difference between payer reimbursement rates at hospitals versus ASCs is still large, and renegotiating those rates is time-consuming and difficult.

These market forces, Simmons explained, have encouraged Regent Surgical Health, the nation’s leading surgery center management and development company, to shift towards hospital affiliations. Over the past ten years, Regent has expanded from one hospital partnership to 19. The specifics of the company’s ASC-hospital joint ventures have varied, sometimes stemming from efforts to support ASC physician owners desire to bring a hospital partner to the table, and other times helping hospitals that already have a controlling interest in a center to improve the ASCs bottom-line. The constant, however, has been that hospital partners consistently contribute to the success of the ASC.

For example, Simmons told the Becker’s audience Regent sees ASC-hospital partnerships as an effective way to negotiate better contracts. After finding a proper affiliate, Regent has been able to successfully negotiate its reimbursement rates. In fact, Simmons reported Regent has doubled rates in every case except one.

Hosted by Becker’s ASC Review and Becker’s Spine Review, the 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven Conference the conference drew more than 1,100 attendees from across the nation, including surgeons, physician leaders, administrators and ASC business and clinical leaders.

To learn more about Regent’s ASC and hospital partnership offerings, click here.