Jul 23rd 2021

Top 5 Reasons to Consider Alternative Sites of Care for Certain Surgical Procedures

Outpatient or inpatient surgery? Many patients and their caregivers consider site of care optimization before deciding.

Advances in medical technology and a greater demand for high-quality care at lower patient cost has fueled the growth of alternative sites of care, such as ambulatory surgery centers.

For common surgical procedures like knee arthroscopy, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, or carpal tunnel release, to name a few, it's certainly worth having a conversation with your surgeon to determine if an alternative site of care is a better fit, and can reduce your total cost of care while offering surgical outcomes of the same high quality.

Here are five reasons why alternative sites of care can be a better choice for individual patients:

1. Dedicated Specialty Care

Many freestanding facilities—often physician-owned—specialize in one or just a few procedures. Surgeons at alternative centers therefore often have a high level of expertise and deep experience in performing those procedures.

Other members of the surgical care team (nurses, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, etc.) are also focused on their specialty and can provide dedicated care.

2. Same-Day Discharge

The question on almost every patient's mind when prepping for surgery is "When can I go home?".

For alternative sites of care, the answer is straightforward, because outpatient procedures do not include an overnight stay.

That also may mean that patients experience a smoother transition to the start of post-op recovery services such as physical therapy.

3. Lower Infection Rates

The rate of infection, which often increases the risk of readmission or complications post-op, is generally lower at alternative sites of care, primarily because patients do not stay overnight.

4. More Scheduling Options

Scheduling a procedure can be difficult regardless of the site of care. But when you're considering surgery at a hospital, the higher demand for services often translates to fewer options in terms of timing.

Because alternative sites of care are focused on one or a few specialties, they usually offer more flexibility and choice in scheduling surgeries.

5. Lower Patient Cost

All of the reasons above influence one of the most important considerations: cost of care, including both out-of-pocket and total cost.

Managing the cost of care without compromising quality in healthcare is a goal shared by patients, caregivers, and providers alike—and site of care optimization is one effective way to achieve that goal.

Moving Forward

Not every patient will be an ideal candidate for an alternative site of care. Some procedures are still best-suited for a hospital setting, and some patients will require a higher level of care after surgery for routine procedures, based on their medical history or health status.

But if outpatient surgery is a good fit, you may want to get it done sooner rather than later, because living with pain can take its toll. After the surgery, services like physical therapy can improve mobility and boost recovery in the long run.

Even ifmost of the procedures performed at alternative sites of care are not considered "urgent," having the surgery now may also prevent the need for additional or more complex surgeries further down the road. Delaying knee replacement surgery, for example, can lead to damaged bones and joints, bad posture that affects other body parts, surgical complications when you do get the procedure done, and other negative effects.

Having surgery is an important decision and deciding where to get it done is an important factor. When you're considering the "inpatient versus outpatient" question, be sure to take site of care optimization into account. There are many reasons why alternative sites of care may make sense—including potentially better outcomes and lower total cost of care.