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Rapid growth for ambulatory surgery centers: Meeting market demand and customer needs

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are specialized medical facilities designed to provide same-day procedures in areas like orthopedics, gastroenterology (GI), ophthalmology and more. Advancements in laparoscopic procedures, the use of digital imaging and telemedicine are contributing factors to the growing numbers of complex procedures, once performed only in hospital settings, now being performed in ASCs. Patient and physician advantages have also driven significant growth in the ASC space. Market data cited in OR Management News earlier this year reveals surgical procedures are projected to grow by at least 25% at ASCs over the next 10 years.

How is Cardinal Health meeting market demand and customer needs in this growing ASC market? We recently sat down with Melissa Laber, senior vice president, Lab and Non-Acute Sales, U.S. Medical Products and Distribution, to learn more.

Q: How would you describe the current ASC landscape and overarching trends driving change in the industry?

The volume and scope of care within ASCs continues to grow significantly – providing benefits to both providers and patients. ASCs have transformed the outpatient experience by providing a more convenient, cost-effective alternative to a full-service hospital – while still delivering safe, quality care and positive patient outcomes, according to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.

We’re seeing tremendous changes in the industry. New and existing ASCs are regularly met with complex considerations like evolving regulatory compliance, new robotic technology, implementation logistics for new builds, supply chain management and so much more – all within a highly competitive market.

We have a strong team in place that is passionate about supporting our customers and helping them navigate such complexities. We offer an extensive Cardinal Health Brand product portfolio with high-quality medical supplies, as well as a variety of services and customizable solutions to help ASCs maximize efficiencies and savings. Our objective is to provide a comprehensive strategy to enable our customers’ growth and success in this rapidly changing landscape.  

Q: How does Cardinal Health currently serve ASCs?

Whether a customer is at the beginning stages of planning a new build or they’re very close to opening a new center, our team is committed to providing valuable support along the way.

For example, we can help create and manage project plans and building timelines, as well as share clinical and operational insights to maximize a customer’s investment. Because our team understands the unique needs within an ASC, we’re well positioned to provide recommendations for equipment, medical supplies and solutions to support safe, quality patient care. And as I mentioned, we offer a robust Cardinal Health Brand product portfolio, along with expert services and customizable solutions.

We make all of this happen through a reliable and resilient supply chain within our U.S medical products distribution organization, which includes our ASC business. The resiliency of our supply chain allows our team to serve as a strategic collaborator with our customers and help them achieve greater patient care outcomes. In fact, Cardinal Health just received top accolades from the Healthcare Industry Resilience Collaborative (HIRC) for high achievements in supply chain resiliency – earning us the HIRC Resiliency Partner Badge with Diamond-level rating. Cardinal Health is proud to be the first healthcare distributor to receive this highest recognition from HIRC.

Q: How are we responding to industry challenges with new services and solutions offerings?

Our customers are continuously met with a myriad of challenges in this highly competitive and quickly growing market. They’re looking for ways to manage inventory and logistics within their surgery center, cut waste, leverage actionable data and improve workflow efficiencies. With our clinical and operational expertise, we offer ASCs the services and solutions that address these challenges and much more. Here are a few examples:

We have specific sales and implementation teams who are primary points of contact with our customers. Together, they work through a menu of assessments, leveraging Cardinal Health’s insights and analytics tools to identify operational gaps and pain points and ultimately help improve overall performance.

We also know that clinicians within ASCs are often tasked with ordering supplies and managing storage space, which can be very time consuming. We offer a robust product catalogue and scalable storage solution options that help our customers maintain efficiency and get back to their number one priority – patient care.

Additionally, we have Presource® procedural packs and solutions that are customizable to adapt to an ASC’s unique needs. Whether a center is a specialty site or provides a variety of surgical procedures, we work strategically to help improve supply standardization, reduce costs, and deliver quality products to support safe patient care.

For ASC builds, we’ve recently created a comprehensive tool for our customers that we call a playbook – which clearly outlines critical aspects and considerations when opening a new center or expanding an existing location. Throughout the playbook, we leverage our breadth of experience and clinical insights to help our customers better understand what a successful surgery center looks like and how to achieve it. For example, we provide a room-by-room product and supply checklist in the playbook, as well as implementation and consultation support materials. We’re really excited about this new value-added tool for our customers.

Q: Recognizing the playbook has just launched, what are our customers saying?

Customers have shared their appreciation for the playbook because it gives them a detailed framework for what is necessary in each room of a surgery center — including pre-op, the operating room and post-op. To give you an idea, for administrators and material managers who are opening a new ASC build for the first time, the playbook gives them a quick reference and helps streamline what to think about when ordering medical surgical supplies. This tool takes the guesswork out of so much decision making, which ultimately creates more efficiencies for our customers throughout the whole build process.

Q: How are we preparing our ASC customers for the future and meeting their growing needs?

Our ASC team regularly evaluates market trends and explores ways to evolve our offerings based on changing dynamics and customer demand. For instance, in late 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced reimbursement approval for total shoulder replacement surgeries when performed at ASCs, which went into effect January 1, 2024. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), more than 200,000 shoulder replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Based on the reimbursement change, we anticipate this number to increase at ASCs.

Looking ahead, our marketing and sales enablement teams developed additional resources for our sales reps and customers in need of more clinical information on Presource® shoulder procedure kits. We are also creating a new kit specific to shoulder replacement surgeries. This is just one example of our team staying nimble and responding to changes in the market.  

As ASCs continue to expand, they’re looking for expert assistance and a single point of reference to help them optimize facility operations, accommodate growth, and deliver high-quality patient care. Cardinal Health is glad to serve as that trusted resource to meet those needs and more. Our customers tell us they appreciate our capacity to offer tailored solutions and respond quickly to industry changes and technological advancements. We’re proud of our relationships with new and established ASCs and our ability to help them grow and thrive in this ever-changing landscape.

To learn more about ASCs, visit Surgery Center Supplies & Solutions | Cardinal Health.

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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.