CSAs turn to high-acuity service lines as operating costs soar

As procedures, especially orthopedic and cardiology cases, migrate to the outpatient setting, many ASC leaders are looking to add high-acuity service lines to meet margins as operating costs soar.

“As CMS enables more procedures to be performed at centers, it gives centers the ability to be open for more procedures,” said Catherine Retzbach, BSN, RN, director of ASC operations at Marlton-based Virtua Health. , N.J. Becker’s. “Cardiology and spine procedures provide patients with more options for procedures to be performed in a high-quality, low-cost environment.”

Jeany Dunaway, RN, administrator at Effingham, Illinois, Ambulatory Surgical Center and her team launched a total joint program in 2021. Although the ramp-up has been slow, she is excited to see it continue because “surgeons and our staff become more comfortable with the processes,” she said Becker’s.

“It’s exciting to see the great results our patients are getting and how happy they are with our services,” she added.

Large ASC chains are turning to high-acuity procedures to encourage growth. At the end of the third quarter, orthopedic and spinal procedures represented 20% of the volume of the ASC United Surgical Partners International channel.

During an Oct. 20 earnings call, Saum Sutaria, MD, CEO of Tenet Healthcare, USPI’s parent company, said the chain was doubling down on its high-acuity growth strategy. He cited the growth of an ASC in Tennessee, where the center increased revenue by 46% by replacing high-volume, low-acuity procedures with high-acuity orthopedic cases.

UnitedHealth Group’s Optum, parent company of ASC chain SCA Health, is also considering higher-acuity surgical procedures to drive growth, Chief Financial Officer John Rex said in an Oct. 14 earnings call.

The growth strategy for small CSAs also includes service line additions. Shannon Parisi O’Leary, regulatory compliance manager for Mason-based Southwest Ohio Pain Management, runs a “very small” center focused on “a very efficient day-to-day operation,” said she declared. Becker’s.

“With the addition of new service lines, this will provide more opportunities for growth as CHWs and as employees, which is most exciting of all,” she said.

But adding service lines in an unstable economy isn’t always the best option, and CSA leaders need to weigh the costs before committing to the investment, Ms. Retzbach said.

“Adding service lines takes research and commitment. Plus sometimes tough decisions have to be made, like reducing days of service if the volume doesn’t justify being open every day,” she said. “If you want to add a new range of services, will you perform enough procedures to cover the costs? »

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