An Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) is a specialized health care clinic that provides patients with outpatient surgical treatments.
These clinics allow patients to receive the high-quality surgical treatments they need without the exorbitant cost of inpatient treatment in a hospital.
With a concept that traces its roots back over forty years, ASCs have proven to provide exceptional levels of care and customer service while also reducing costs. They continue to grow in popularity in the face of the ever-increasing costs of health care services.
An Alternative to Inpatient Hospital Surgical Care
Before the 1970s, nearly all surgical treatments were performed in hospitals. Most required inpatient care and an overnight stay. The wait time before receiving treatment could sometimes take weeks or even months. Post-operative recovery and rehabilitation services also tended to be prolonged.
All this started to change in 1970 when the first Ambulatory Surgery Center opened in Phoenix, Arizona. From their earliest days, ASCs have proven to be a cost-effective alternative to inpatient care, due in large part to reduced scheduling delays, improved operating room availability, faster operating room turnover times, and the ability to acquire new equipment faster than a conventional hospital.
Being able to provide service (?) on an outpatient basis for many common surgical treatments has allowed ASCs to become the preferred option over hospitalsWithout the delays associated with hospital budget approval, physicians can schedule care more efficiently, hire highly skilled staff, and stay on top of the latest surgical technology.
The Economic Benefits of ASCs
Some ASCs are owned directly by physicians or an ownership group with a board of trustees. Yet many physicians who don’t have an ownership stake will still choose to offer their services through an ASC. At the same time, an increasing number of ASCs are now jointly owned or directly affiliated with a local hospital. This allows the hospital to refer patients for surgical treatment while minimizing problems with fragmented care.
It’s also worth noting that ASCs add significant value to the United States economy through employment and taxes. The United States Bureau of Labor estimates that ASCs employ over 110,000 full-time workers. ASCs provide an estimated $90 billion impact with more than $5.8 billion in tax payments.
ASCs are also cost-effective for government-funded programs and third-party payors. The Medicare program and its beneficiaries enjoy over $2.6 billion in annual savings compared to the cost of the same care performed in a hospital. At the same time, patient co-pay costs tend to be significantly lower for care administered in an ASC.
The average patient typically pays less in coinsurance costs for treatments performed at an ASC compared to the cost of the same treatment in a hospital setting. Theoretically, a Medicare beneficiary might pay as much as $500 in coinsurance for something like an outpatient cataract extraction performed in a hospital. The same treatment performed at an ASC would only cost around $200.
In addition, many private insurance companies save money on ASC-based treatments. This allows employer-sponsored health care programs to enjoy lower health care costs and premiums. This has prompted many employers and insurers to encourage ASC treatments.
Superior Transparency in Pricing Information
Patients can often become frustrated by surprise treatment costs performed in a hospital setting due to a lack of transparency, poor insurance coverage, and rising health care costs.
By contrast, ASCs tend to make clear pricing information available in advance of treatment. This makes it easier for patients to plan for health care costs. It also makes it easier for insurance companies and programs like Medicare to provide adequate coverage.
High Patient Satisfaction Rates
The ASC health care model is designed to enhance patient care and satisfaction by allowing physicians to focus on specific treatments in a single surgical setting. It also allows patients to bring their concerns to a single physician who has direct knowledge of their needs, rather than to a hospital system, where detailed knowledge isn’t always shared from one physician to the next.
The ASC model also helps to reduce patient wait-times and facilitates patients receiving care on a schedule that works better for them. This is in stark contrast to procedures performed in a hospital where the schedule is based largely on the availability of the operating room or surgical theater.
All of this translates into a 92% patient satisfaction rate for ASC treatments and customer service received.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers are Regulated to Ensure Safe Quality Care
State and Federal regulations for Ambulatory Surgery Centers ensure safety and quality of care. This includes evaluation performed by independent observers through state licensure, Medicare certification as well as voluntary accreditation.
Currently, 43 states and Washington, D.C., require ASCs to be licensed in order to operate within their boundaries. The other 7 states also have their own regulatory requirements for Ambulatory Surgery Centers, which includes Medicare certification or accreditation by an independent organization.
To be certified for Medicare, an ASC must comply with all the standards issued by the federal government. This includes the quality of the facility, the qualifications of staff and physicians, as well as management. It also requires the ASC to demonstrate consistent compliance after initial certification.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers are Committed to Quality Care
Since their earliest days, quality care has been a hallmark of the Ambulatory Surgery Center model. Quality care is measured by the ASC Quality Collaboration, an independent initiative established to promote quality and safety standards in all Ambulatory Surgery Centers. The ASC Quality Collaboration actively works to develop meaningful measures for consistent quality and care in the ASC setting. Another way to measure quality care is through the National Quality Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care in America. They consult with the Medicare program to ensure compliance standards. Many ASCs voluntarily report to the National Quality Forum for endorsement.
Advanced Surgery Center Services
You’ll receive quality care through Advanced Surgery Center, an ASC that focuses on joint repair and replacement as well as overall pain management strategies for orthopedics, podiatry, hands, and knee pain. Our physicians have years of experience providing our patients with superior outpatient surgical treatment and rehabilitation services.