What is an Ambulatory Surgery Center?


  • Introduction to Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs)
  • ASC origins and benefits
  • The future of ASCs

Within the vast world of ambulatory care and all that it encompasses, there is one specific healthcare modality that undoubtedly reigns especially important. This modality includes all of the services Ambulatory Surgical Centers provides, also known as ASCs. But what exactly is an ASC? Why are they important? For those who are freshly exploring the world of ambulatory care, it will be useful to understand the interior and exterior of these ever-so-essential healthcare structures.

Introduction to Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs)

Introduction to Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs)

Simply put, an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) is a healthcare facility in which medical procedures, oftentimes surgical in nature, that do not require an overnight patient stay take place. ASCs are usually either freestanding medical facilities or part of larger healthcare organizations. 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.

ASC origins and benefits

To better understand why ASCs are the future of ambulatory care, it would first be beneficial to briefly explore the history of these medical centers, while also unpacking the unique benefits they provide society. The first ASC facility was opened in 1970 by two independent physicians and located in the popular city of Phoenix, Arizona.

Tired of the frustrations that came with working for a hospital, including scheduling delays, sedate operating room turnover rates, and equipment limitations, the two ambulatory care pioneers seized the opportunity to establish a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to inpatient hospital care, specifically for surgical services.

Unsurprisingly, outpatient surgeries offer substantial advantages over in-patient surgery, ranging from being more cost-effective to providing an increase in patient safety. The life-saving benefits of ASCs is outlined through these main points:

  • Lower Costs – Ambulatory surgical centers are often 45-60% less expensive than hospitals, which benefits patients and taxpayers equally. And yet, arguably more important than fair costs is the fact the quality of healthcare provided by these surgical centers is equal to, if not often higher than, that which hospitals offer.
  • Safety – Another advantage to choosing an ASC for one’s qualifiable medical procedure is that the procedures are believed to be cleaner and thus safer when performed at an ASC. This belief is supported by the fact that contagious diseases are strictly controlled and prohibited from access to ASCs, as opposed to hospitals where various health exposure risks are uncontrolled.
  • Accessibility & Convenience – ASCs are beneficial not only to patients but also to the practicing physicians who are trusted to care for such patients. At ASCs, physicians have more control over their work and the quality and value of care. This, combined with the frequently convenient and accessible locations ASCs makes them a far more agreeable option than an inpatient hospital.

How to choose an ASC

How to choose an ASC

Choosing an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) can be daunting, but it is important to do your research and ensure you are selecting a facility that is right for you. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an ASC:

Location: Choose an ASC that is conveniently located for you. This will make it easier for you to get to and from your appointments and make it easier for your family and friends to visit you.

Accreditation: Make sure the ASC is accredited by a reputable organization, such as the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). This means that the ASC has met certain standards of quality and safety.

Surgeon credentials: Check the credentials of the surgeon performing your surgery. Make sure the surgeon is board-certified or board-eligible in your type of surgery.

Facility amenities: Ensure the ASC has the amenities you need, such as private rooms and comfortable waiting areas. You should also make sure that the ASC is clean and well-maintained.

Cost: The cost of ASC surgery will vary depending on the type of procedure you are having and your insurance coverage. However, ASC surgery is generally less expensive than hospital surgery.

Patient satisfaction: Once you have narrowed down your choices, take some time to read online reviews of the ASCs you are considering. This can give you a good idea of what other patients have experienced.

Talk to your doctor: Your doctor can help you choose an ASC that is right for you. They can also give you more information about your specific procedure.

Here are some additional tips for choosing an ASC:

  • Ask for recommendations from your doctor, friends, or family.
  • Visit the ASC in person to get a feel for the facility.
  • Ask about the ASC’s infection rate.
  • Find out what type of anesthesia will be used for your surgery.
  • Make sure you understand the ASC’s discharge policies.

Improve patient engagement with Ambula

Create a rememberable patient experience and more patients through your practice.

What types of surgeries are performed at ASCs

What types of surgeries are performed at ASCs

Imagine you need surgery, but the thought of a hospital stay makes you anxious. Well, there’s an alternative: ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), which offer a more laid-back and cost-effective option for a wide range of procedures.

Think of ASCs as specialized clinics that handle surgeries that don’t require an overnight stay. They’re equipped with the latest technology and staffed by experienced professionals, so you can rest assured you’re in good hands.

What kinds of surgeries can I get at an ASC?

You’ll be surprised at the variety of procedures ASCs can handle. Here are just a few examples:

  • Eye surgery: Got cloudy vision from cataracts? Or do we need to address glaucoma or retinal problems? ASCs can take care of those.
  • Gastrointestinal procedures: Colonoscopies, endoscopies, and even removal of polyps or lesions in your digestive tract can be done at ASCs.
  • Orthopedic fixes: Arthroscopic surgeries for joint repairs, bunionectomy, and even ingrown toenail removal – ASCs can handle these musculoskeletal issues.
  • Gynecological procedures: From D&Cs to hysterectomies and laparoscopic surgeries, ASCs can address various women’s health concerns.
  • Pain management: If you’re struggling with chronic pain, ASCs can provide relief through epidural injections, facet joint injections, or trigger point injections.
  • Cosmetic procedures: Minor plastic surgeries like skin grafts, mole removals, and eyelid lifts can be done at ASCs, giving you that extra boost of confidence.
  • Other specialties: Urology, otolaryngology (ENT), podiatry, and dermatology are just a few of the other specialties where ASCs can provide specialized care.

So, if you’re facing surgery, don’t automatically assume a hospital stay is necessary. Explore the option of ASCs – you might be surprised at the convenience, comfort, and cost savings they offer.

The cost of surgery at an ASC

The cost of surgery at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) is typically lower than that at a hospital. This is because ASCs have lower overhead costs, such as rent and utilities, and they typically do not have overnight patient stays. As a result, ASCs can charge lower prices for their services.

The average cost of surgery at an ASC is approximately $1,500, while the average cost of the same surgery at a hospital is approximately $3,500. This means that you can save up to 50% by having your surgery at an ASC.

Of course, the actual cost of surgery will vary depending on several factors, such as the type of surgery being performed, the complexity of the surgery, and the surgeon’s fees. However, you can generally expect to pay less for surgery at an ASC than at a hospital.

In addition to the lower upfront costs, ASCs also typically have lower out-of-pocket costs for patients. This is because ASCs are able to negotiate lower rates with insurance companies than hospitals. As a result, patients with insurance will typically have lower deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for surgery at an ASC.

Overall, the cost of surgery at an ASC is typically lower than the cost of the same surgery at a hospital. This is due to the lower overhead costs of ASCs and their ability to negotiate lower rates with insurance companies. If you are considering surgery, be sure to ask your doctor about the possibility of having your surgery at an ASC. You may be surprised at how much you can save.

Here are some additional factors that can affect the cost of surgery at an ASC:

  • The type of anesthesia: General anesthesia is typically more expensive than local anesthesia.
  • The use of implants: If your surgery requires the use of implants, this will add to the cost.
  • The surgeon’s fees: Surgeon’s fees can vary depending on their experience and expertise.
  • Your insurance coverage: Your insurance plan will determine how much of the cost of surgery is covered.

If you are concerned about the cost of surgery, you should talk to your doctor and your insurance company. They can help you estimate the cost of your surgery and discuss your payment options.

The future of ASCs

With all of the benefits that they provide, the rise in popularity of ASCs is unsurprisingly conspicuous. Ambulatory surgical centers provide the most viable alternative to hospital-based care while still maintaining a beyond-feasible quality of care.

In fact, Studies have shown that the performance of ASCs generally exceed that of hospital-based facilities, with the quality of surgery and postoperative care oftentimes being far superior to that which is provided in a hospital.

This revelation has created steady growth in the market for ambulatory surgical centers, highlighting their overall importance in the medical world. As a result of their growth, ASCs were found to perform anywhere from 30% all the way to 50% of all outpatient surgeries in 2021, depending on the specialty. Additionally, studies indicate that ASCs will continue growing on average 6-7% per year, increasing from 4-5% over the last three years. The multibillion-dollar business surrounding ASCs alone speaks volumes.

With patients and providers alike supporting the convenience, cost-effectiveness, and quality of care that ASCs provide, the growth in their necessity appears boundless. In conclusion, this highlights the bright and fruitful future of ambulatory surgical centers and their services. And luckily, there exists EMRs, such as Ambula, that are built to support the prosperous future of ASCs, providing them with the structural integrity and architecture needed to run smoothly.

To learn more about how Ambula’s EMR is changing the way ASCs are being run, contact the Ambula Healthcare staff at (818) 308-4108. And now, discover ways to improve the productivity in your ASC!

What are the key components of physician practice management emr system

Keep up to date with the latest in healthcare and technology!

Subscribe to Ambula’s weekly newsletter – don’t get left behind!