Hospital giant HCA plans to significantly expand its holdings of ambulatory surgery centers and other outpatient services but will stay away from specialty hospitals, a spokesperson said today.
The Nashville-based company, which already operates 80 ASCs along with 190 hospitals, will soon name its first group president for outpatient services, who will oversee the expansion, adds HCA spokesperson Jeff Prescott.
Prescott says the number of HCA's ASCs has held fairly constant for the past five years and that area can grow again, now that the company is on stronger financial footing.
He says the company would buy or build ASCs as well as diagnostic centers, such as imaging and endoscopy centers, but would stay clear of specialty hospitals. The company has "a philosophical issue" with specialty hospitals, arguing that they skim off the most lucrative business from acute care hospitals, he says.
Prescott says HCA would probably open facilities only in communities where it already has a presence--mainly in the South and West. The new HCA division will "look at the needs and opportunities in various communities," such as physicians' interest in using ASCs, he adds.
HCA first revealed its interest in expanding its outpatient sector in an earnings call last month. At that time, the company announced a lower-than-expected earnings forecast for the year, citing a reduction in Medicare payments to treat very sick patients.
But Prescott insists that the company is in a strong financial position and is ready to make some acquisitions.