WHEN SURGEONS BECOME OWNERS OF SURGERY
CENTERS, THEY DO MORE SURGERIES, SAYS NEW WCRI STUDY
May 11, 2012 – Orthopedic
surgeons who owned ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) did
between 52% and 111% more surgery than orthopedic surgeons
who were not owners. One of the more important reasons for
this is the financial incentives arising from ownership,
according to a new study of ASCs in Florida from the Workers
Compensation Research Institute (WCRI). Surgeons who are
owners not only are paid the surgeon’s fee, but also receive
a share of the profits of the surgery center.
Why Surgeon Owners of Ambulatory Surgical Centers Do More
Surgery Than Non-Owners, examined 941 surgeons—some of
whom ultimately became owners of surgery centers. It
compared the number of knee, shoulder, and wrist surgeries
that each surgeon did before becoming an owner with the
number performed after becoming an owner. The study found
that the average surgeon did 14-22% more surgeries after
becoming an ASC owner. The study did not determine whether
or not these additional surgeries were necessary.
also found other important reasons why orthopedic surgeons
who own ASCs do more surgery than orthopedic surgeons who
are not owners. According to the study’s author, Dr.
Christine Yee, “ASCs are more likely to recruit high-volume
surgeons to become owners. Similarly, high-volume surgeons
are more likely to become owners of surgery centers.” Dr.
Yee also noted that surgery centers are often more efficient
than hospital outpatient departments, so the surgeons were
able to schedule and perform more surgeries once they were
affiliated with surgery centers.
just one example of physician self-referral – a growing
issue being addressed by state and federal policymakers
concerned about spiraling health care costs,” commented Dr.
Richard Victor, the Institute’s Executive Director. “As
payers limit price increases for physician services, the
physicians look for other avenues to supplement their income
– ownership of surgery centers and MRI facilities as well as
physician dispensing of prescription drugs have become much
The Workers Compensation Research Institute
(WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research
organization based in Cambridge, MA. WCRI is recognized as a
leader in providing objective, credible, and high-quality
information about public policy issues involving workers'
compensation systems. WCRI's members include employers;
insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies;
health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor
organizations; and state administrative agencies in the
U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.