While late December and early January may be more traditional times for making projections about the new year, as I was reading some of the articles scheduled for the November/December issue of ASCA’s ASC Focus magazine, I realized that many of them cover important developments that are likely to have a significant impact on ASCs in 2017 and beyond.

Some of the topics discussed there include:

  • Bundled payments – the move away from fee-for-service payments and toward bundles and value-based payments is news that can’t be ignored. ASCs that want to stay ahead of the curve will stay on top of critical developments in this area.
  • Spine surgery in ASCs – the successful outcomes, low incidence of complications and cost savings associated with the growing number of spine surgeries being performed in ASCs are important developments for patients and providers alike. As more of these procedures continue to move into the ASC setting, we can expect many others to follow, including more total joint surgeries, more gynecologic procedures and maybe even some advanced neurosurgery.
  • Cybersecurity and social media – protecting data from hackers and ransomware attacks is a growing concern for health care providers of all kinds and a testament to the ever-expanding role that increasingly sophisticated e-communication tools are playing in patient care. Going forward, ASCs will need to manage these tools effectively to protect their patients and facilities. At the same time, they need to keep an eye on any new developments in electronic health record systems for ASCs.
  • Medicare’s new physician payment system – Beginning January 1, 2017, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 changes how and how much physicians will be paid for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries and how physicians will interact with the program. While these changes won’t affect facility fees in ASCs, they will affect the physicians who work there and need to be a concern for all ASC management teams.
  • The growing need for individual ASC involvement in grassroots advocacy – in the November/December issue of ASC Focus magazine, ASC political and advocacy counsel John McManus reviews some of the ways ASCA’s advocacy efforts have already changed the operating landscape for ASCs and some of the challenges that lie ahead. He also outlines steps ASCs need to take now to ensure their future success. As you read his message, I encourage you to keep in mind that ASCA’s annual meeting next year, ASCA 2017, is May 3-6, in Washington, D.C., and will include many opportunities for attendees to learn more about ASC advocacy and get involved in enlisting congressional support for their ASC.

ASCA reserves full access to ASC Focus magazine for ASCA members only, but for a limited time everyone can read about some of the changes affecting ASCs that we can expect to hear more about in 2017. On October 17, we began offering everyone 30 days of unlimited access to read the November/December issue online at www.ascfocus.com. When the 30-day period ends, only ASCA members will be able to access magazine content.

While we consider all of the new developments that are on the horizon for ASCs in 2017, we cannot lose sight of some old favorites like the increasingly complex regulatory environment ASCs face, new developments in Medicare’s ASC quality reporting requirements, new codes introduced to ICD-10 and the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey (OAS CAHPS) that we expect to become mandatory for ASCs soon.

To get what you need to stay on top, check in with ASCA every day. Attend ASCA 2017 and ASCA’s three Winter Seminars, January 12-14, in San Antonio, Texas, this year; access ASCA’s online training series and webinars; participate in ASCA Benchmarking and ASCA’s Salary and Benefits Survey; and visit ASCA’s Career Center. If you do not already hold your Certified Administrator Surgery Center (CASC) credential, you should also consider taking that exam this year. You can learn more about that program at www.aboutcasc.org.

When we enter the new year, ASCA will be standing ready to keep you connected, informed and involved. Make sure that your ASC is an ASCA member in 2017 so that as you navigate all of these changes, and the challenges they will bring, you don’t have to stand alone.

William Prentice is the chief executive officer of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.