Patients might have heard the term before, but do they really know what an “ambulatory surgical center” (ASC) does? Many Americans mistake ASCs for urgent care centers or ambulatory care clinics; small, independent physicians offices that provide minor emergency and primary care. The fact is, ASCs are a specific category of healthcare facilities in themselves, designed to provide same-day, outpatient surgical care. ASCs are a positive development in a world where healthcare is often cost-prohibitive and hard to attain; they offer more affordable prices for care and procedures in a generally small and friendly environment. Want to know more about ASCs? Check out the list below. It contains 4 facts that might surprise patients about ambulatory surgical centers, their background and the services they provide.

1. Ambulatory surgical centers do not provide primary care services.

Unlike urgent care centers or other small health clinics, ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) don’t provide primary health care services which means they don’t provide regular routine physicals or diagnostic services. Patients who come to an ambulatory surgical have already seen a primary care physician and now need to undergo a treatment or procedure like LASIK eye surgery or a colonoscopy. Ambulatory surgical centers also have at least one dedicated operating room equipped for surgery and are not comprised only of examination rooms.

2. The most common specialty served by ASCs is opthalmology.

Of all of the procedures offered at ASCs, the most common are ophthalmology procedures that is, those that deal with treatment of the eyes. Some common eye procedures often done at ASCs are cataract surgery, glaucoma treatment, LASIK eye surgery and ICL implantations. The second most popular specialty handled at ASCs are orthopedic surgeries such as minimally invasive knee, hand, ankle or elbow surgeries followed by GI procedures, like colonoscopies and endoscopies.

3. ASCs tend to be community-based small businesses.

While they are not rural health clinics, ambulatory surgical centers tend to be small, community-based businesses run by local business owners with small staffs. (In fact, about 70 percent of ASCs employ fewer than 20 people.) This means that not only do ASCs provide important, affordable care in a local area, they also help employ local residents and provide them with great work schedules, and good health and retirement benefits. Patients at ASCs also benefit from their size, since doctors and nurses can play close, personal attention to each individual patient.

4. ASCs save Medicare and patients money.

One of the best parts about ASCs is that they provide the same quality services, but are more affordable than hospitals particularly for Medicare patients. On average, Medicare patients pay 72 percent more for a procedure when they have it in the outpatient department of a hospital than they do at an ASC. ASCs don’t only save patients money, though. In 1982, Medicare began to reimburse ASCs for their services. Since then, ASCs have saved Medicare billions of dollars in costs, due to the lower cost of services provided at ASCs and in turn the lower amount of reimbursements. As of 2013, Medicare beneficiaries can receive over 3,500 types of treatment at ASCs, and on average, the funding program saves about $2.6 billion per year when patients choose to have procedures completed at ASCs as opposed to hospitals.



Bio: Becky Bicks is a freelance writer and photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Yale University with a BA in writing, and she has extensive experience writing web copy.



abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.

Join Our Newsletter