There is a growing emphasis on outpatient care in the United States. Outpatient care facilities play an important role in reducing healthcare costs while also satisfying patient desires for convenient, quality care. New technologies and changing guidelines from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) have incentivised this shift in focus from inpatient to outpatient services.
Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) pose another challenge for hospital outpatient departments. Though ASCs only get reimbursed at 60 percent the rate of hospitals, some patients consider them a more convenient alternative to traditional settings. ASCs can have shorter wait times for surgeries, and can also be more flexible in bundling certain procedures. The procedures themselves may also take less time at an ASC than at a hospital outpatient facility. Some hospital leaders have chosen to avoid this direct conflict by acquiring, building, or partnering with ASCs. This keeps patients in-network, stemming revenue loss.
Outpatient services have become a greater source of hospital revenue in the past 20 years. In the 1990s, outpatient care services constituted between 10 and 15 percent of a hospital’s income. Now, that average is just over 50 percent according to Definitive Healthcare data.
All five off the top drugs used in outpatient procedures (by total charges), are used in the treatment of cancer, and two are also used to treat autoimmune disorders. All of the top 25 drugs by total payments were administered by injection or infusion. The most-used outpatient drugs by number of claims were much more diverse than the top by charges. Included in the top five drugs are an anti-nausea medication, opioid pain reliever, and anti-inflammatory drug.