Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Elective surgery restrictions devastated ASC finances in early 2020, the industry since has recovered rapidly and is projected to take a greater share of procedures in 2021.
Four ASC trends for 2021:
1. High Market activity. In order to drive healthcare costs down, ASCs were prioritized over hospitals before COVID-19 by insurers. ASCs are a more popular option due to higher infection concerns that exist in a hospital setting. In 2021, expect to see development of more joint-venture centers between independent practices and hospitals as well as more partnerships formed between existing surgery centers and hospitals.
2. Payment. There’s a wide reimbursement gap between ASCs and hospital outpatient departments, and because CMS didn’t address this in its final rule for 2021, ASCs will continue fighting to eliminate the differential. Additionally, CMS announced compensation cuts for a number of physician specialties for next year, a move that ruffled feathers. Fortunately, having proved their ability to safely provide care during the pandemic, ASCs are avoiding new rounds of elective surgery restrictions — the latest state orders are more precisely targeting inpatient settings.
3. Staffing. ASCs have to continue keeping staff safe from COVID-19 exposure in 2021, as one positive case among employees could quickly put others in isolation. In a worst case scenario, a short-staffed center may have to close down temporarily.
4. Supplies. The need to protect staff and patients from exposure is driving up supply costs — more personal protective equipment. Supply challenges also include bracing for potential shortages, creating new approaches to procuring inventory, and having to conserve supplies.