Debating Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Medicare’s Diagnostic Related Group (DRG) classification system changed (again) recently.  My (basic) understanding of the change means better reimbursement for hospitals (specifically academic medical centers) and less reimbursement for ambulatory surgery centers (ASC).

ASCs have been criticized in the past for operating on the best cases (low complications, highly reimbursed procedures, some even call 911 if complications arise during surgery because they don’t have emergency capacity).  However, an argument on the efficiency impact can’t be ignored.  The learning impact for providers who operate on similar cases on a daily basis should raise quality, something we obviously need.  The majority of patients who receive services from ASCs do just fine.

Regardless of what actually was intended by the DRG change or what happens in the future, what are your thoughts on ASCs?  Is the service they provide a benefit to our health care system?  Are they taking business away from hospitals?  Do they force hospitals to be more efficient? (As always this gets a little more complicated than asking a few simple questions: I think some other issues are at work here like physician ownership and referral patterns.)

One thought on “Debating Ambulatory Surgery Centers

  1. Interesting thoughts here- I have a bias opinion, being an ASC consultant, but I ceratinly feel they are a benefit to our healthcare system and I am sure there are many, patients and industry folk alike, who agree- they can provide high quality care, often at reduced cost, in a time efficient manner. With some other requirements being met!
    As far as competition from the hospital, this is evident in Certificate of Need states-but there is an opportunity here to work together with the hospital in terms of a joint venture that will benefit both parties. If you are interested in learning more about physician ownership and its impact on communities, the ASC Association has a publication for order on its website. You can also visit our website at!


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