ASC leaders reflect on 2023 and share some of the highlights the outpatient surgery industry experienced.
With 2023 behind us, it's an appropriate time to look back at the year that was. For ambulatory surgery centers, it was an eventful year with some very unexpected developments (see: Medicare's approval of total shoulders). On the whole, it was a good year for ASCs, and one that hopefully sets the industry up for further success in 2024.
To gain some perspective on what made 2023 such a positive year, we asked several ASC leaders, including representatives from Surgical Information Systems (SIS), to share their thoughts.
Jeffrey Flynn, CASC, Administrator and Chief Operating Officer, Gramercy Surgery Center: 2023 was a great year for ASCs in New York. We lobbied successfully to receive an independent ASC seat on the New York State's Public Health and Health Planning Council. This gives ASCs a say about what healthcare services are necessary and unnecessary in New York.
There's a reason why New York is ranked 49th per capita in the nation for number of ASCs per 100,000 people: this council. The council has been dominated by hospitals, and nursing homes and home health agencies have had seats on it as well. Now independent ASCs will have a representative at the table who can argue for the expansion of ASCs in the state and counteract arguments against increasing the number of centers. I've consistently said there needs to be another 100 ASCs in New York to give patients the proper access they deserve. This seat on the Council will hopefully lead to the much-needed growth of New York ASCs.
Todd Logan, Chief Growth Officer, Surgical Information Systems: I look back at 2023 as an important and hugely successful year for ASCs. We saw increased adoption of clinical technology systems and EHRs by ASCs, which is empowering more centers to gather better information about the great care they provide. This data enables individual centers and the ASC industry to further strengthen the position that ASCs are high-quality, highly cost-effective facilities that should be preferred by providers, patients, and payers for an increasing number of surgical procedures.
Jessica Nelson, Vice President of Revenue Cycle Services, Surgical Information Systems: In 2023, we saw a stronger focus on and overall desire for the ASC industry to embrace technology in different ways, leading to a significant increase in the number of centers implementing new solutions. It's apparent that the willingness to adopt innovative technologies that can help automate and enhance workflows will be paramount to our industry's future. On the revenue cycle management side, a few examples of technologies that took on greater importance in the ASC industry are AI-powered coding, enhanced patient engagement solutions like texting and online payments, and appeals/denials management.
Katie Pierson, DNP, RN, ONC, CASC, Regulatory Specialist, Ambulatory Healthcare Strategies: I think a big success I saw for the ASC industry in 2023 was the way surgery centers have come out of the pandemic mindset with an enhanced focus on quality of care and eagerness to research and implement technologies that can help them deliver even higher quality care and set themselves up for success.
I'm excited to see ASCs moving forward with growing their centers and specialties, and to see Medicare permitting more procedures to be performed. I think a lot more people within ASCs — physicians, administrators, other leadership — are starting to have the visions for their centers realized as Medicare approves procedures that they have long known could be safely performed in surgery centers.
Thomas Pinelli, Vice President of Product Management, Surgical Information Systems: I can proudly say we delivered substantial value to SIS Complete users in 2023. We made improvements to all areas of the platform including our patient and physician portals. We finished a key initiative to make inventory workflow more efficient and more effective. We also gave our clients the ability to configure their own patient tracker boards. In the spirit of "operating smart," we're continuing to work to make the platform smarter, easier to use, and more efficient so our clients can concentrate on what they're best at: taking care of patients.
I'm also really proud of the success of our client "delight initiative." We know our clients are an amazing source of new ideas for SIS Complete and ways our technology can help them solve their problems. We were getting so many great ideas from our clients that we decided to dedicate teams to do nothing but execute and deliver on great ideas. This initiative has been so successful that in 2023, we almost doubled the number of teams dedicated to delighting our clients.
Raghu Reddy, MBA, BS, CMR, Chief Administrative Officer, SurgCenter of Western Maryland: Some of our biggest successes for this year were adding physicians to our roster and growing the center by increasing volume in specialties like orthopedics and ophthalmology. I'm happy with the growth we're seeing, not only in our center but in the ASC industry in general.
While we're scaling up through increasing our number of doctors and case volume, we're further leveraging and growing our reliance upon technology platforms. They're helping us streamline growth and better manage the growth process while still maintaining our same level of efficiencies and compliance and reducing labor costs in the process.
I'm really pleased to continue seeing increases in Medicare reimbursement for ASCs. Even though they are not at the level I think any of us would like to see, these payment increases are a good start. They tell me that Medicare is recognizing the importance of ASCs, which was further exemplified with its approval of total shoulders. That's going to be a huge add on for us.
I'm also very excited about our ASC achieving accreditations like total joint certification. These accomplishments will give us a distinction among other facilities in the area, which we hope will lead to increased reimbursement from our payers.
Daren Smith, Vice President of ASC Solutions, Surgical Information Systems: I view 2023 as a great year for ASCs and SIS. We saw the ASC industry further emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with strong growth and the potential for even more in the future. Many of the cases driven to the ASCs during the health crisis have stayed with them because surgery centers proved themselves as the optimal site of surgery for these procedures. We saw CMS recognize this as well when the agency further expanded the types of procedures it will cover for Medicare patients, most notably total shoulders. A growing number of legislators are recognizing that ASCs deliver safe, effective care, as they have for decades.
We also saw a significant growth in the number of ASCs adding and using EHR systems, with SIS Complete being recognized as the fastest-growing ASC software of all time. Surgery centers have recognized that technology is essential to capitalizing on growth opportunities and navigating the obstacles that can stand in the way of success.
ASCs in 2024: Many Reasons for Optimism
2023 was a good year for ASCs and SIS. How will 2024 play out? Check out our follow-up blog where the leaders featured above share why they are optimistic for the year ahead.