8 Ways the ACA Could Affect Your Ophthalmology Practice

Leigh Page

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September 11, 2013

In This Article

Some Hospitals Are Buying Ophthalmic Ambulatory Surgery Centers

5. Ambulatory surgery centers become more desirable

Although hospitals have shown very little interest in ophthalmology, some are beginning to get a taste for buying up ophthalmic ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs).

Dr. Rich said that these hospitals are acquiring ophthalmic ASCs not because they want to create an ophthalmic service line, but because they want to use the operating rooms in these centers for more lucrative specialties like orthopedic surgery. "It's an easy way to acquire a surgery center without going through the regulatory hassles of having to open a new one," he said.

Also, when a hospital wholly owns an ASC, it can be converted to a hospital outpatient department, which earns about 40% more than an ASC for the same procedure, and that reimbursement gap is growing.

Ophthalmology's limited appeal to hospitals has a lot to do with the specialty's outpatient orientation, but Dr. Tauber predicted that as hospitals gravitate to outpatient care through ACOs and other arrangements, they will, like his system, begin hiring ophthalmologists. At Mercy, he said, "we are competitive for the top graduates from ophthalmology residency programs," because young ophthalmologists seek "a level of security that is challenging for a private practice to give them."

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