What is an ASC?

Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are facilities where surgeries that do not require hospital admission are performed. They provide a cost-effective and convenient environment that may be less stressful than what many hospitals offer. Most procedures that are performed at a surgery center are elective procedures and patients are not commingled with a sicker patient population like at the hospitals.

Patients who elect to have surgery in an ASC arrive on the day of the procedure, have the surgery in an operating room, and recover under the care of the nursing staff, all without a hospital admission.

The first ASC opened in 1970. Today about 20 million surgeries are performed each year in the more than 5,000 surgery centers across the United States.

ASCs are some of the most highly regulated health care providers in the country. Medicare has certified 85% of the ASCs, and 43 states require ASCs to be licensed, including New Jersey. Both New Jersey and Medicare survey ASCs regularly to verify that the established standards are being met.

In addition to state and federal inspections, many surgery centers choose to go through voluntary accreditation process conducted by their peers. All accredited ASCs must meet specific standards that are evaluated during on-site inspections. As a result, patients visiting accredited ASCs can be assured that the centers provide the highest quality care.

Benefits of an ASC

Patient satisfaction is a hallmark of the ASC industry. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General surveyed Medicare beneficiaries who had one of four procedures in an ASC. He found that 98% of the people were satisfied with their experience.

One reason for high patient satisfaction is convenient scheduling. According to the ASC Association's Outcomes Monitoring Survey, more than half of ASCs started more than 71% of their cases on time.

Patients also choose ASCs for their high level of professionalism and safety. FASA's survey shows that over 50% of ASCs had fewer than two complications per 1,000 encounters and that over 95% of their medical staff is board certified. ASC's have consistently had significantly lower infections rates than hospitals.

Another reason patients like ASCs is value. A 1977 study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield revealed that, on average, procedures performed at ASCs cost 47% less than those same procedures performed on hospital inpatients.

*courtesy of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association

Ambulatory Surgery Centers: A Positive Trend in Health Care
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This ASC Trends report illustrates research supporting the growth and expansion of ASC's.