Data indicates shift in how patients seek elective surgeries amid pandemic

Physicians and patients are becoming more cognizant to the additional safety benefits of ASC's amid the current pandemic.

It is no secret that the world has changed drastically over the past few months.  Our habits and routines have been altered from the most basic of activities such as attending a barbeque to important and complex decisions such as how we handle our personal healthcare decisions in the face of the new normal.  While some individuals are delaying elective procedures or avoiding treatment for acute conditions in a hospital setting, many are seeking alternative care sites for their healthcare needs.

A key part of our strategy at SensusOne is focused on helping hospitals, surgeons, and operators develop best in class ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) to accommodate this trend.  We currently have two such facilities under construction with two more planned to break ground in the fall, and the factors driving demand continue to indicate strong future demand.

A recent article from Becker’s ASC Review cites a recent survey commissioned by REIT Physicians Trust where 46.2% of 2,018 respondents indicated that if a surgeon recommended their surgery take place in the hospital, that they would request the surgery take place in an ambulatory surgery center instead.  The trend toward surgical procedures increasingly taking place in an ambulatory setting was well underway before the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic has drastically hastened the shift in healthcare consumers’ mindset.

Medical professionals have long recognized the benefits of performing these procedures outside of the hospital, but patients are now taking notice more than ever before.  In fact, in 2005 only 32% of surgeries were performed in an ambulatory surgery center as compared with nearly 60% with no sign of slowing, according to the Becker’s ASC Review article.  As many states begin to allow elective procedures again, patients whose surgeries were delayed due to COVID-19 are anxious to move forward and are now recognizing the safety advantage of the ASC setting as compared to the hospital.

While more protection from COVID-19 is an immediately apparent benefit of the ASC model, there are also additional benefits to both the patient and the physician.  According to the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, these benefits can include:

  • Improved outcomes and faster recovery times – according to research, the time a patient spends in the ASC is almost 26% less than a hospital outpatient setting for the same procedure.
  • Lower infection rates – research in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found lower rates of urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and blood clots in patients who received surgery in an ASC.
  • Cost Savings – ASCs can be 45% – 60% less expensive than hospitals. The Department of Health and Human Services estimated savings of $15 billion for taxpayers and $3 billion for Medicare patients if all qualifying surgeries were performed at an ASC.
  • Improved Quality of Care and Service – Physicians operating in an ASC have the same training and credentials as hospital-based physicians, and the focused nature of an ASC eliminates delays or impersonal service since physicians and medical staff is not distracted by patients who may have other illnesses, emergencies, or needs.

There is no doubt that these and other factors will contribute to the growth and prevalence of the ASC model well into the future.   We are excited to continue our partnerships with physicians and healthcare organizations in developing, owning, and managing ASCs across the country.

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