ASCs Plan Investment As Patient Volumes Rise

October 2018

HIDA Post-Acute Insights

By Ann Peters
Manager, Research & Analytics

The majority of ambulatory surgery center (ASC) administrators and physicians expect surgical volumes to increase this year, according to HIDA’s 2018 Provider Survey: Technology Drives ASC Expansion.This survey of ASC administrators, doctors, and office managers looks at the factors driving this growth, and the steps ASCs plan to take in response.

Improved surgical capabilities are the leading factor behind rising patient volumes, although respondents also identified the aging population and increased capacity at their facilities as key drivers. To cope with the influx of patients, ASCs are planning to make a number of investments. Here is a look at some of these:

ASCs plan physical expansion
More than one-third (36 percent) of ASCs are planning to expand their physical facilities. Of these, more than half plan to expand or remodel their current facilities, while 43 percent plan to build new facilities altogether.

Despite plans to physically expand, the majority of ASCs have no plans for mergers and acquisitions. Only 5 percent of independent ASCs say they are in the market for acquisition, and 64 percent say they are not affiliated with a health system nor considering this option.

ASCs plan to expand range of surgeries at facilities
Advances in operating room technology, microscopes, and patient recovery have been key in allowing many procedures to shift from the hospital to the outpatient setting. The leading types of surgeries ASCs plan to add in the next two years include plastic and podiatric.

In addition to expanding the range of surgeries they perform, many ASCs have already expanded the types of services they offer. These include physical therapy (54 percent), diagnostic imaging (54 percent), and clinical laboratory testing (41 percent).

ASCs look to reduce costs
Lowering costs is a key priority for ASCs, although many are not willing to let this aim compromise their ability to meet patient needs. Even though ASC supply chain decision makers are looking to reduce costs, they identified demonstrated clinical results as the most important attribute when making purchasing decisions.

The vast majority (88 percent) of ASCs purchase their medical-surgical supplies through distribution. When purchasing, these providers tend to exhibit a high degree of independence, and even those affiliated with large health systems still have a strong measure of influence in this area. Another important fact for distributor reps to know is that medical-surgical supply purchasing makes up a large part of ASCs’ budgets – second only to labor costs.

ASCs are a rapidly growing segment in the healthcare industry, performing a growing range of surgeries and drawing patients away from traditional settings. As the report details, these providers are making numerous strategic investments as they plan for growth. Distributors are in a unique position to help address the pains that accompany rapid growth by providing customized strategies for holding down costs.


For more information, and to see additional research reports in HIDA’s Provider Survey series, visit