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3 Growing Trends in Outpatient Care and How They Affect ASC’s

3 Growing Trends in Outpatient Care and How They Affect ASC’s

With rising healthcare costs, patients continue to look for care in new settings according to their preferences and their wallets. According to a report by PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) in April of 2018, the increased willingness of consumers to receive care outside of the hospital or practice is creating disruption in the healthcare industry.

There are two major driving forces for this trend: consumer experience and cost. For example, health retailers like CVS Health and Walmart are focusing on consumer experience to bring patients into the fold and keep them coming back; using reward programs and giving incentives to patients to obtain care at a clinic or offering subscription-type services to keep consumers coming back on a regular basis. 

Consumers and employers all want care to be low cost and high quality. In the same HRI report, eighty-five percent of consumers surveyed would want to take advantage of options that would allow them to finance the costs of large medical expenses.

With that as backdrop, here are 3 trends that will shape ASC’s today and in the future: 

1. More hospitals are investing in ASC’s

As patients seek more convenient and affordable care, hospital systems are increasingly investing in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). HCA Healthcare intends to spend $3 billion on new outpatient clinics. Tenet Healthcare is also expected to put down over $1.9 billion in outpatient investments. 

With healthcare’s transition to value-based care, investing in ASC’s makes a lot of sense for hospitals. With advancements in technology (smaller incisions, anesthesia, and pain management), ASC’s have provided better outpatient capabilities; which are better for patients due to lower-cost and higher-quality care. 

It’s a trend that hospitals can’t ignore as technology continues to open doors for more things to be done on an outpatient basis.

2. Value-based care incentives favor outpatient settings

Today’s reimbursement landscape rewards value and penalizes poor outcomes and readmissions. Health plans and government program payment policies support providing services in lower-cost care settings which includes outpatient facilities. 

In a study of Medicare claims data between 2012 and 2015 conducted by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, hospitals that derive a large part of their revenue from quality and value contracts had 21 percent more Medicare outpatient visits and 13 percent higher outpatient revenue compared with hospitals that did not report revenue from such contracts. 

Outpatient surgery has been known to be safe and effective, achieving similar or better outcomes as inpatient procedures. With outpatient surgery, patients spend less time in a medical facility, recover faster and incur less pain. 

3. Outpatient cost savings is on the rise

With increasing number of patients in high deductible health plans with large out-of-pocket expenses, outpatient facilities are becoming the more logical choice for many cost-conscious patients.

In 2014, Blue Cross Blue Shield reported that outpatient total per-procedure savings ranged from $4,505 for hysterectomy to $17,530 for angioplasty. In 2016, Orthopedic Reviews also estimated an average cost savings of 17.6 percent to 57.6 percent for outpatient orthopedic procedures compared to inpatient. 

More savings could be gained if a greater number of procedures were to be performed in outpatient surgery centers. Only 48 percent of all surgical procedures approved to be performed in an ASC are performed there. If the other 52 percent of approved procedures were performed at ASC’s, an additional $41 billion could be saved annually.

Moving forward, ASC’s that leverage these trends would be better positioned for growth and increased bottom line amidst a changing healthcare landscape. 

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