Wellness systems boost ASC investment

Two-thirds of private hospitals and health systems plan to boost investment in ambulatory surgery facilities, according to a new report.

After several years of fairly slower growth, hospitals and wellness systems are ramping up ASC construction and conversions, with the reveal of providers planning to boost ASC investment rising from 44% within 2019 to 67% in 2020, according to Avanza Healthcare Strategies’ study of more than 100 professionals who were polled prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary driver at the rear of ASC expansion was to increase outpatient surgical capacity, according to Avanza, which usually guides providers through ASC growth.

“Many private hospitals are converting their outpatient sections or migrating cases to ASCs, ” Avanza CEO Joan Dentler said in prepared remarks. “This was true before the pandemic strengthened the business case for every hospital getting at least one freestanding ASC in its profile. ”

A level bigger proportion of larger private hospitals are expanding their ASC profile, with about 76% planning to devote more resources. The 186-hospital investor-owned system HCA, for instance, is ongoing to invest in ambulatory surgery centers .

“Our sobre novo ambulatory surgery pipeline is most likely more robust than it has been in many years, ” HCA CEO Sam Hazen said in a recent investor contact.

A Bain & Co. survey from May also found a continuing shift of care to ASCs. But the surgeons polled did not foresee COVID-19 will accelerate this change when compared to growth over the last two years.

While most hospitals along with ASCs operate them as doctor joint ventures, only a third permitted employed physicians to invest in ASCs—the cheapest number in three years, Avanza discovered. Seventy-nine percent of hospitals would rather own more than 50% of the collateral of a joint venture, which allows ASCs in order to leverage hospitals’ payer contracts to get higher reimbursement rates, according to the record.

Meanwhile, a lot more hospitals are building out their particular internal teams that manage ASCs. Only 16% contracted with outdoors management companies in 2020, lower from 44% in 2018.