The migration of care from inpatient (IP) to outpatient (OP) and ambulatory surgery center (ASC) settings is revolutionizing healthcare delivery. The trend began with cataract and cosmetic surgery moving from IP to OP and ASC settings more than a decade ago, and now the list of ASC procedures has grown to include endoscopy, colonoscopy, ACL and shoulder repairs, sinus and cataract surgery, and lithotripsy.

Several factors have enabled this evolution, including: the growing sophistication of surgical tools and techniques; new pain management and diagnostic techniques; a boom in the development of OP care delivery options; consumer demand for convenience and access; and changing perspectives on site-specific reimbursement.

This transition is good news for consumers and employers as it promises to lower costs, improve access and convenience, and, if done right, deliver better outcomes. Payers who can accelerate this change can deliver better value and gain competitive advantage. But a strategic approach is needed to avoid antagonizing key stakeholders.

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