Last year, AcuityMD published our analysis on how the COVID-19 pandemic helped accelerate the shift of many procedures to the ASC setting. Now we're back with an update to see how these patterns continued, or didn't, through the end of 2021.
The rise of ASCs continues
While the number of total knee arthroplasty (TKA) procedures conducted at hospitals continues to fluctuate and still has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, COVID-19 sub-variants were less disruptive than the first wave. ASCs’ procedure volume continues to grow, with the number of TKAs nearly quadrupling in the last two years. COVID-19 still looms over the healthcare industry, but it appears ASCs will likely continue on an upward trajectory while a return to normalcy may be in the cards for hospitals’ volume.
Colonoscopy volumes return to pre-pandemic levels
Diagnostic procedures like colonoscopies saw massive reductions in volume in both hospital and ASC-based settings due to the pandemic, but both have recovered their volume well. ASC-based procedures are on pace to match or overtake hospitals’ volume, a trend to look out for in 2022. COVID-19 appears to have accelerated the migration of procedures to ASCs. In 2021 Q4, ASCs performed more total colonoscopies of all types (rather than just diagnostic) than hospitals for the first time.
Fluctuations in complex spine procedures persisted throughout the pandemic
Orthopaedic and spine procedure volumes in both hospitals and ASCs declined greatly due to the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, but were more resilient in subsequent waves. Despite a drop-off in Q1 2021 due to the Delta variant, volumes in both hospitals and ASCs were trending upward at the end of 2021. Despite the rapid growth of freestanding ASCs, ASC volume remains far below that of hospitals. Due to the complexity and patient risk involved in orthopaedic and spine procedures, hospitals will likely remain the go-to site of care for the foreseeable future.