As we reflect on the past eight months and the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare and the infrastructure around it has been one of the many topics at the center of discussion. Clearly, the world was ill prepared to respond to an outbreak of this proportion on many levels, and this was evident with the fear of hospital overcrowding. Doctors and medical experts saw the potential danger in not having enough room in hospitals to care for the wave of inbound patients. As a result, many elective surgeries were postponed indefinitely, leaving those patients suffering in pain and uncertainty.
In addition to the pain of patients, this posed an issue for many physicians and physician groups that were performing their surgeries in local hospitals. With “elective” surgeries like hip replacements, hernia repair, cancer surgeries, and so many more being delayed indefinitely, these doctors faced uncertainty in when they could actually perform these important procedures for their patients. At the mercy of hospitals’ decisions on who gets what space, this left many patients and their physicians anxious about their health.
On the other hand, ambulatory surgery centers, or ASCs, were far less affected by these decisions. Operating independent of any hospital, ASCs and the owning physician groups were able to keep their cadence of surgeries, resulting in steady operations and happier patients. Privately owned centers without majority hospital ownership also qualified for the federal PPP loan program to retain its staff, and they were able to operate at the local governance level of restrictions. As beds were reserved for COVID-19 patients in hospitals and other facilities, these specialized centers were able to keep performing surgeries, resulting in healthier, happier patients while gaining an advantage on their competition.
It isn’t surprising that the U.S. should see a marked increase in the number of physician groups partnering to open their own ASC’s as a result of the lessons learned in 2020. Operating within a hospital system, especially in a time of chaos, can handcuff the physicians who depend on performing an abundance of elective procedures on a monthly basis. ASCs offer freedom to physicians and ownership groups, as these facilities help remove external risks and allow for physicians to be in charge of their practice.
As we move forward in the coming months and years, we should expect to see a noticeable shift from surgical practices within U.S. hospital systems to independently or co-owned ASC’s which will undoubtedly make a positive impact in the quality of life for providers and patients alike. Are you interested in forming your own group or building your own ASC? Our experienced team of experts is here to help. Start the conversation to learn more about Calspan’s experience building world class ambulatory centers.