The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated healthcare trends that were already gaining momentum, including the adoption of telehealth services, the transition of care to non-acute settings, and the streamlining of facility operations. The healthcare landscape is continuing to change, and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are well-positioned to grow and thrive in the future.
Here are four important post-pandemic trends that ASC leaders should be aware of as centers return to full case volume and more surgeries migrate from hospitals to outpatient settings. By adopting a strategic approach, ASCs can become the first choice for patients seeking elective procedures.
- Telehealth is expanding and improving.
During the pandemic, healthcare providers have increasingly relied on telemedicine to meet with patients in a safe and convenient environment. Digital communication through video calls, online portals, or apps has made it possible for patients to make appointments, complete paperwork, ask questions about pain management, or consult with their physician before or after surgery without long transit or wait times.
Telehealth services have the potential to improve both patient satisfaction and center efficiency. And since nearly everyone has become more comfortable with using technology like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams to stay connected with colleagues and loved ones, adoption of telemedicine faces fewer barriers. ASCs would benefit by designing flexible spaces for providers to use for video visits and other telehealth services with patients.
- Separate spaces for acute and non-acute care are necessary.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of creating separation between facilities for sick and well patients. Some patients scheduling elective surgeries are not comfortable going to a hospital where patients with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases are treated, and ASCs provide a safer alternative. ASCs can increase the measures they use to screen and distance patients, limit cross-contamination, and prioritize the safety of patients and staff.
- Streamlining operations is part of patient-centric care.
Even before the pandemic, successful ASCs focused on improving the flexibility and efficiency of their operations. Now it’s more important than ever for ASCs to invest in patient education, effective communications, and a streamlined revenue cycle. A patient-centric approach to care prioritizes transparency, providing clear billing information and answering questions before a procedure to lead to higher revenue and patient satisfaction scores.
- Anesthesia is playing a crucial role in surgery migration.
The migration of surgeries from in-patient to outpatient settings was already in progress before the pandemic, and it is only expected to accelerate in the future, due to factors including cost savings and patient satisfaction. As this transition continues and more surgeries — including certain high-acuity procedures — move to ASCs, a professionalized approach to anesthesia management will be key to success. ASCs will need full anesthesia coverage from reliable, flexible providers to keep up with full case loads, eliminate cancellations, and improve turnover times. Outsourcing anesthesia management and staffing will become an attractive option for centers looking to improve financial, clinical, and operational efficiency.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of outsourcing anesthesia? Get in touch with CarePlus.