ASCs central to Intermountain strategy to ease care access, CEO says

Hospital and health system leaders have various issues demanding their attention. Among the list is crafting strategies to provide the most effective care access for people.

This was top of mind for Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health when it launched InstaCare locations across its footprint, President and CEO Rob Allen told Becker's. The clinics offer urgent care services at dozens of locations in several western states. 

Now, Intermountain continues to ramp up its ASC growth as it looks toward the outpatient setting. The health system signed a collaboration agreement with Surgery Partners in April for the management of the health system's surgery centers in Utah and Idaho and the development of ASCs in other markets. Then in July, the health system opened a surgery center on the campus of the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray, Utah, that specializes in outpatient spine, hip and knee procedures.

The surgery center was the seventh ASC Intermountain has opened in Utah, and the health system plans to open eight more by 2024.

Mr. Allen said the efforts aim to improve the cost of care as well as accessibility.

"A number of these outpatient settings are able to provide better, easier access," he said. "You're not navigating a large building and structure to go get your care, and the cost is less in many cases."

Historically, Intermountain has built services on its campuses and, for many years, strived to maximize the use of the facilities it had and price outpatient services based on the marketplace for a lower cost access point, Mr. Allen said. 

Today, he sees a need to adapt to payment rate structures that can be limited.

"So we started to look at our structure for surgical services and standing up the ASCs," Mr. Allen said. "We're thrilled to have so many opening up. … We believe it's an important long-term strategy for us across our service footprint."

Intermountain also aims to manage patients into lower-cost settings for imaging services.

"In some cases, even [privately insured people] can't afford a hospital-based MRI," Mr. Allen said. "They can go to our outpatient centers and get an MRI [at a lower cost]. 

"And those have been very successful, and we have a half a dozen of those launched, and we're launching another handful of them this year as we go forward."

All the initiatives are part of the health system's larger strategy to deploy services and create access points "for ease, for simplicity and for lower cost for our patients and our communities wherever possible," he said.

Intermountain Health is a 33-hospital health system with locations in seven states. The Intermountain Surgery Center on the TOSH campus began performing procedures in mid-July.

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