Ambulatory surgery center vs Outpatient hospital


  • Understanding ASCs
  • Understanding Outpatient Hospitals
  • Similarities between ASCs and Outpatient Hospitals
  • Differences between ASCs and Outpatient Hospitals

Although often misconstrued as being interchangeable, an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) and an outpatient hospital are two individual entities within the medical healthcare space. The differences between the two become essential when considering a medical practice from the level of a physician, especially so when at the fundamental level of insurance. Subtle in nature, the differences between ASCs and outpatient hospitals can produce impactful results that are auspicious when unpacked.

Understanding Ambulatory Surgery Center

To begin, Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are medical entities that provide outpatient surgical care on a diagnostic and preventive procedures level without the headaches that often accompany receiving such procedures at an inpatient hospital.

These centers offer patients several advantages over traditional hospital-based surgical procedures, including shorter wait times, lower costs, and smaller chances of infectious disease exposure.

Some common procedures that doctors perform in ASCs include spine and joint surgeries, colonoscopies, ophthalmological surgeries, and much more. And just like hospitals, the federal and state government regulates ASCs to make sure patients are safe.

Understanding Outpatient Hospitals

Outpatient hospitals are hospitals that provide services to patients who have not been or do not have to be formally admitted to the hospital, which would qualify them as inpatient. Some common procedures that might qualify under this type of care include x-rays, various radiation procedures, receiving certain types of medications, blood transfusions, or temporary mental health care, as well as lab tests that are hospital-billed and specific emergency room services, such as same-day surgery. So long as the procedures do not require a formal hospital admission and stay, then they can be qualified as outpatients. 


Similarities between an Ambulatory Surgery Center and Outpatient Hospitals

Ambulatory care is sometimes called outpatient care. Outpatient hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers both offer outpatient procedures, the likes of which can be surgical, preventative, and diagnostic in nature, such as endoscopies or colonoscopies. Like a hospital operating room, ASCs contain nurses and doctors abiding by firm guidelines and procedures. Their duty is to make sure patients are safe, in a sterile environment, and ensure successful operations. 

Although it is important to keep in mind that all surgical operations have risks, there are no additional ones involved in outpatient procedures when compared to in-hospital treatments. Besides these similarities in procedures, staff, and safety guidelines, the parallels between ASCs and outpatient hospitals are not quite as significant as their differences. 


Differences between an Ambulatory Surgery Center and Outpatient Hospitals 

One of the main differences between an ambulatory surgery center and an outpatient hospital is who runs the facility. Because the surgical center in an outpatient hospital is owned and run by a hospital, it is subject to that hospital’s specific structural system, rules, and regulations. An ASC, on the other hand, is a free-standing practice that may have a differing structure from other medical practices. This structural difference often results in ASCs costing patients less than a hospital would. 

And although the highest quality of practice and safety are present in both ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient hospitals, studies have found that ASCs notably have fewer post-surgery complications due to the lessened risk for contagion exposures. 

Moreover, ASCs are often more specialized in specific procedures, resulting in better operation outcomes, as opposed to hospitals that attempt to cover various specialties in one building and risk cross contamination. 


Overall, when it comes to outpatient surgical procedures, ASCs are notably a safer and more cost-effective alternative to procedures performed in a hospital setting. 

Have any more questions? Feel free to call the Ambula Healthcare team at (818) 308-4108! And now, do you know who can own a surgery center?

Published On: February 28th, 2022 / Categories: Healthcare EMR Software /

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