HEALTH CARE, SENIOR & LIFE SCIENCES I n the wake of COVID-19, health care systems worldwide were forced to completely rethink the nature of their in-patient procedures. Amidst intensified concerns about exposure risks, wide- spread resource constraints, and lim- ited patient capacities, many hospitals shifted their in-patient procedures to outpatient ambulatory surgery cen- ters. The increased popularity of ASCs during COVID-19 enabled health care systems to deliver more effective and efficient care. The benefits of ASCs continue to be felt, even as COVID-19 has reached an endemic phase. As we look ahead to the next decade, the growth of outpa- tient care and ASCs is set to continue at a rapid pace. n Market growth projections for ASCs. A Medicare Payment Advisory Com- mission and VMG Health report found that outpatient procedures carried out in ASCs grew from 48% in 2010 to nearly 60% in 2019. A study published in JAMA Network Open also com- pared the volume of outpatient procedures before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found a clinically significant increase in outpatient procedures during the pandemic, especially for minimally invasive procedures. For joint arthroplasty procedures, ASCs became a prevalent option, decreas- ing the Average Length of Stay from 1.6 days in January 2020 to 0.9 days by December 2021. Same-day discharges also increased from 6.2% of cases in 2019 to 30.5% in 2021. As the demand for outpatient ser- vices grew during the pandemic, investments in ambulatory surgery centers followed. By the end of 2020 – a little over one year after the first case of COVID-19 was reported – sev- eral major health care organizations pivoted toward ambulatory and out- patient care. Tenet Healthcare, for example, completed a $1.1 billion deal to acquire up to 45 ambulatory surgery centers. Meanwhile, Stryker, a medical device company, sought to realize $55 billion in annual health- care savings by launching its own ambulatory surgery center business. Current market trends suggest that the increased prominence of ASCs is here to stay. According to a 2021 For- tune Business Insights report, the U.S. ambulatory surgical centers market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9%from $36.96 billion in 2021 to $58.85 billion by 2028. This predicted growth is driven primarily by the growing popular- ity of ambulatory surgery centers nationwide and a significant increase in the volume of surgical procedures Please see ASCS, Page 15 INSIDE Aging architecture: Designing for the next generation resident A vacuum system is an important discussion, design element Next generation Optimal performance PAGE 19 PAGE 24 Transforming health care facilities via energy performance programs Denver Health PAGE 13 July 2023 Carolyn Wilson Strategy and planning adviser, Nexcore Group The rise in ambulatory surgery centers: More than a COVID-19-era trend In addition to promoting overall cost savings, ASCs generate more favorable patient experiences.