Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 02, 2021

The Ambulatory Surgical Center Marketing is Growing Tremendously Fast

Healthcare consumerism trends have shown that patients want more options in how and where they receive treatment in recent years. Patients want to pick a healthcare facility that best meets their immediate clinical requirements while also keeping costs and personal inconveniences (such as prolonged hospital stays) to a minimum. Consumers are increasingly turning to Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and other types of outpatient facilities.

Hospitals that specialize in same-day outpatient surgery are known as ASCs (also referred to as OSCs). ASCs are less expensive and provide more consistent results for patients than more traditional outpatient hospital care.

Many healthcare experts believe that the outpatient market will continue to expand in exciting ways in 2020, and ASCs are likely to see an increase in attention as a result. In addition to convenience and cost, there are other factors to consider. The outpatient care market is growing at an eye-catching rate due to more enormous industry-wide transformations, such as surgical recovery times being improved by innovative technologies.

Companies that can improve ASC patient treatment outcomes or facilitate smoother outpatient journeys will have a hungry market in the coming years.

Factors due to which The Ambulatory Surgical Center Marketing is Growing Tremendously Fast:

Cheaper rates and superior service continue to entice customers.

With these reduced copays and lower pricing, consumers have been happy to comply. Not to underestimate the importance of price for surgery patients is critical. In a study by the Advisory Board, surgical patients said that the cost of surgery was more important than travel time, recommendations, hospital affiliation, location of follow-up visits, and the quality of the surgeon combined. Many ASCs feature many of the customer experience aspects that make them appealing to consumers: easier booking, better appointment availability, short wait times, and convenient parking, to name a few.

Physicians are aware of the possibilities for additional revenue.

Physicians are encouraged to shift surgical cases to ASCs due to a variety of reasons. In recent years, many ASCs have advertised attractive equity options to doctors. In 2017, 92 percent of ASCs included physicians as equity owners, and many offered physicians the opportunity to earn additional revenue through supplementary services. For doctors who have no financial interest in ASCs, the centers can nevertheless be attractive. ASCs frequently have higher physician payment rates, and some even provide financial bonuses for every patient who receives care in an ASC instead of an HOPD. Finally, ASCs have higher throughput and are more efficient, allowing doctors to conduct a greater volume of procedures. ASCs are projected to grow more attractive to physicians as additional high-revenue procedures are approved for ASCs soon.

Patients are relocated in novel ways by Medicare and other payers.

Due to ASCs' lower costs to payers for routine surgeries like pacemaker implants, which are reimbursed by Medicare at $3,721 in an ASC compared to $7,731 in an HOPD and $14,540 in an inpatient environment, payers have pushed to shift patients to these other locations.

The CMS has been particularly aggressive recently when it comes to pursuing site-neutral payments to reduce hospital outpatient department rates. In addition, they've added 12 new cardiac catheterization procedures to the list of procedures eligible for inclusion in the ASC coverage. They've proposed including whole and partial hip replacements as well.

Contracts with private payers have been adjusted to limit HOPD services reimbursement and require hospitals to perform outpatient procedures in ASCs to get reimbursement increases over time. For example, some doctors have pushed for preauthorization rules for HOPD operations while allowing PCPs to refer directly to ASCs. To further encourage ASC use, several payers have directly modified the patient benefit design. For example, United Healthcare, Aetna, and Medicare, all charge patients reduced copays for operations performed in ASCs than in HOPDs.

Providers should think about how they can best serve their customers.

Hospitals and health systems can take one of three strategic approaches to the ASC market. First, they can use protectionist methods to keep cases in the hospital and convert ASCs to hospital reimbursement rates. But in the long run, consumers and payers are unlikely to respond to this strategy.

If health systems prioritize the inpatient business and do not aggressively discourage or invest in outmigration or ASCs, they could miss the outpatient setting altogether. To reach revenue goals, institutions must take advantage of outpatient growth, which is growing at a far faster rate than inpatient care due to the disparity in growth.

Third, leaders can take a proactive approach to compete for out-migrating instances. There is good news for hospitals and health systems: the shift to outpatient surgery is opening up latent demand, which can tap through effective competition. This is the best long-term option for hospital and health system leaders.

COVID-19's impact on the ambulatory market

The CDC first encouraged ambulatory surgical centers and other outpatient facilities to refuse any new elective surgeries in favor of telemedicine services. This was a substantial financial blow to ASCs and the like. However, on March 30th, 2020, the Trump government sought more than 5,000 outpatient centers in the US to help treat COVID-19 patients.

The goal of this change was to help relieve the strain on already overburdened local hospitals while also limiting the spread of any new viruses. US hospitals dealing with the brunt of COVID treatment now have access to thousands of additional beds and hundreds of more healthcare workers thanks to these previously closed outpatient centers. Patients who don't have COVID can now receive treatment at these outpatient clinics, too.

However, it is unlikely that "business as usual" will continue for an extended period after the quarantine ends. However, it is safe to expect that ASCs will be attempting to compensate for any losses experienced during the blackout period for elective surgery.

Choosing which ambulatory surgery centers (as well as which geographic regions) are most important to a company's marketing strategy will depend on the business's specific needs.  You can identify A high-priority care facility in a variety of ways (outpatient or otherwise). The most common procedure performed by ASCs in 2018 was Botox injections, according to data.

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