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THE RISE AND RISE OF AMBULATORY CARE

With Covid causing the abrupt cancellation of most elective surgery and the pressure on acute facilities in hospitals, there has been a new focus on ambulatory care across  the international healthcare industry.

Ambulatory surgical centres are often more conveniently located than hospitals and the costs to run them are considerably less than a hospital.

The Stourside hospital in Stourbridge, run by Ramsay Health is an adjunct facility to a larger hospital nearby and offers an operating theatre with two recovery bays, an ambulatory unit with six pods , 7 OPD consulting rooms, a treatment room and mobile MRI and CT scanner. The facility is typical of the shift towards ambulatory care that started long before Covid but is considered to be a rapidly growing trend in healthcare investment.

In the USA, interest in the sector has been driven by lower costs for the payers - whether insured or self-pay but also by healthcare providers who can often achieve margins that are equal to or greater than those achieved in a full-blown hospital facility.

Of more than 3.4m jobs likely to be created in the healthcare and social assistance sector over the next 7 years, half will be in ambulatory care. Market research has indicated that in the five years between 2018 and 2023, Ambulatory Surgical Centres are projected to grow at 6% a year reaching $36 billion by the end of 2023 - staggering numbers.

A similar (proportional) increase in ambulatory care facilities can be expected in the UK - driven in part by consumer demand for lower costs - the USA has shown us that typical savings on a knee or hip replacement can be 30-40% but also a growing unease about the safety of hospitals in light of the covid pandemic - with both the private sector and NHS playing their part.

Another trend that we believe we should expect to see here are shared ownership models for these facilities with Surgeons and Clinical groups becoming equity owners of outside facilities, along with potentially new investors in healthcare.

Medmin’s clinic management model, along with the patient acquisition strategy that we have developed, are particularly suited to this style of healthcare - we are therefore extremely  interested in seeing how this trend develops over the coming decade. It could be just the segmentation that the market desperately needs...