Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) growth has been increasing since their inception in the early 1970s, but have accelerated at a record pace in the past decade. The U.S. ASC market size is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 11% between 2021 and 2027. 1 An aging population, increase of chronic illnesses, less invasive procedures, reduced costs and lower infection rates are all factors contributing to this explosive growth.
Surgical procedure rates at ASCs can range from 35% to 50% lower than hospitals, 2 which is why many health insurance companies and Medicare encourage patients to make use of ASCs. But the encouragement is rarely needed, as patients prefer the lower costs (especially those with higher annual deductibles) as well as the ease of use: ASCs are often seen as “in-and-out” procedures, allowing patients to complete surgery and get home to recuperate quickly.
The number of procedures being allowed at ASCs continues to increase, including total joint replacements, which are slated to increase 77% through 2026. 3 Additionally, ASCs expect to see the fastest growth in orthopedic, spine and cardio procedures 4 with these single-specialty facilities seeing a majority of the growth. 5 In particular, growth in ophthalmology surgeries has increased because of the aging population and increase in diabetes as a chronic health issue in the U.S.
Although approximately a quarter of ASCs are partially owned by hospitals, a majority continue to be owned by physicians or physician groups, meaning they do not have the purchasing power of a larger healthcare organization. As a result, these physician-owned ASCs have a more difficult time managing purchasing spend due to lower volume and size, less negotiating power and technology challenges. And with lower reimbursement rates for ASCs, managing spend is more critical than ever.
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