The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the nation’s shift to outpatient settings for surgical care, and demand is increasing.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently added 267 surgical procedures that can be performed in ASCs and are eligible to receive Medicare reimbursement.The growth of the ASC industry has caught the attention of hundreds of employers and other purchasers, who are increasingly interested because newly mandated price transparency reveals ASCs to be cost-effective alternatives to hospitals. And they want reassurance of the high-quality care ASCs can provide.
For an answer, employers turned to their longstanding source for quality and safety information on hospitals, The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit founded by employers in 2000 to drive giant “leaps” forward in the quality and safety of American health care. Employers asked Leapfrog to begin rating outpatient surgical care and ASCs, and Leapfrog began this public reporting in 2020. While many ASCs currently participate in data collection through CMS and other regulatory bodies, information is limited when compared to hospital reporting on quality and safety. Thanks to employers, ASCs and hospital outpatient departments can now report quality data to Leapfrog for free.
“Leapfrog is very well known by hospitals, and now ASCs can participate,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and member of Leapfrog’s Board of Directors. “ASCs and outpatient hospital units can now benefit from independent analysis of their quality and safety and have that information in the marketplace for consumers and purchasers. This gives ASCs a deserved platform to prove their competitiveness.”
Based on conversations with employers, as well as the ASCs who were among the first to take part in Leapfrog’s Survey, here are four advantages of participating in the Leapfrog ASC Survey.
1. Prominent positioning with employers, purchasers and their surrogates
“Leapfrog gives us critical data on quality and safety that employers cannot get anywhere else,” said Lee Lewis, chief strategy officer and GM of medical solutions at the Health Transformation Alliance (HTA), a cooperative of 58 leading employers in the U.S.
Many employers are now working directly with ASCs to inform benefits designs and contracting, and they expect transparent data on safety and quality. Others contracting in more traditional ways, through third-party administrators and health plans, expect that data as well. However, they are finding that there is a lack of valuable information they can use.
“Purchasers are signing contracts and building out their plan design to really incentivize their employees to have certain procedures in outpatient settings when medically appropriate,” Schwimmer said.
2. Peer benchmarks for competitiveness
“Participation in a Survey like Leapfrog’s enables you to have a basis of comparison,” said Kathy Wilson, executive director of the ASC Quality Collaborative.
While internal reporting and benchmarking can provide valuable insight to an ASC, being able to compare performance with similar ASCs across the country is critical for competitiveness and growth.
Stephanie Jaross, ASC director for the Center for Spine and Joint Replacement Surgery, agrees.
“The Survey is a check and balance for us. Before participating, I didn’t have good insight into what other ASCs were doing nationally. It’s helped me see what’s important and if we are on the right track.”
3. Educates patients about your facility
Most patients have a choice in where to seek care for an elective procedure. Providing essential data on safety and quality, such as surgical volumes, infections and patient experience, to potential patients on an accessible platform like Leapfrog allows patients to compare facilities.
“There’s a drive across the ASC industry to show patients that we deliver the same, if not better, level of care that hospitals provide,” Jaross said.
She adds that until Leapfrog began publicly reporting ASC data, there was not a national platform to do this reporting.
4. Galvanizes improvement
Abundant evidence suggests that transparency galvanizes change and that public reporting provides ASC leaders with an actionable tool to get their team on board. This accountability builds and sustains momentum.
Dr. Mike Crovetti, Coronado Surgery Center owner and medical director, agrees.
“If I could summarize what Leapfrog does for us, it’s credibility through accountability,” Crovetti said. “Leapfrog is going to hold you accountable for your outcomes, your quality and your patient experience.”
“Quality measurement and publicly reporting the results is essential for accountability and improvement,” Wilson said. “We owe that to every patient that comes through our doors.”