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Majority of Hospitals Increasing Investments in Surgery Centers

About two-thirds of all hospitals and health systems intend to increase their investments in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), according to the third annual national survey of senior executives and clinical leaders at health systems and hospitals. The survey results highlight the growing importance of ASCs to hospitals, which is further magnified by the increasing and ongoing shift of elective cases in the COVID-19 era.

The survey, which explores hospital-ASC trends and was conducted prior to the pandemic, is sponsored by Avanza Healthcare Strategies, a source of expertise and data on ASCs and outpatient services. It found that 76% of larger hospitals and health systems – those with 200-plus beds – report increasing their investments in ASCs, either by converting hospital outpatient departments to ASCs or developing de novo surgery centers.

“ASCs continue to be the model for providing high-quality, low-cost surgical care, and many hospitals are converting their outpatient departments or migrating cases to ASCs,” said Joan Dentler, president and CEO of Avanza. “This was true before the pandemic reinforced the business case for every hospital having at least one freestanding ASC in its portfolio.”

The survey also found that in two years, the number of hospitals owning or affiliating with more than one ASC jumped 17 percentage points. In 2020, 75% of larger hospitals report more than one ASC in their portfolios. According to Dentler, “Payer pressures and other market forces have softened hospitals’ historically defensive posture toward ASCs, paving the way for overall growth, lower operating costs and heightened patient satisfaction.”

Continuing a downward trend, outsourcing ASC management dropped from 23% in 2019 to 16% in 2020. This, Dentler says, is another indication of a changing marketplace. “As hospitals and health systems deepen their investments in ASCs, they are also developing their in-house ASC expertise and resources to effectively manage surgery centers themselves.”

Avanza contracted with HealthLeaders Media to conduct the survey in 2020 as part of its Avanza Intelligence service line for executive decision-makers. Avanza polled more than 100 senior healthcare executives and clinical leaders at health systems and hospitals across the United States.

Download the “Avanza Intelligence: 2020 ASC Joint Venture Survey” report at AvanzaStrategies.com.

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