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Convenience and Lower Costs Lead Way for Outpatient Care

By Jack O'Brien  
   June 19, 2019

New technology and consumerism are leading growth in outpatient care, according to a new survey.

The biggest advantage for healthcare providers shifting to outpatient care are the lower costs, according to Definitive Healthcare's 2019 Outpatient Trends Survey released Wednesday morning.

Following lower costs in the survey results were more convenient recovery, lower risks for hospital-acquired condition (HAC), and improved continuum of care.

Notably, new technologies were cited as the top reason for both outpatient growth, 37.3%, and outpatient care challenges, 35.8%.

Related: Healthcare Industry Most Focused on Consolidation, Consumerism in 2019

Jason Krantz, CEO of Definitive Healthcare, told HealthLeaders that he was surprised that the lower cost of care didn't garner more responses from surveyed executives as an advantage of outpatient care.

"I think that the cost drivers are so critical to value-based care and to the strategy of health systems and providers that I would have expected that to be even higher," Krantz said.  

He added that the respondents choosing the lower risk of HAC as one of the benefits of outpatient care demonstrates that leaders are focusing on continuing to work on reducing HACs.

Reasons for outpatient growth

  • Rise of consumerism, 31.6%
  • Increase in ASC Medicare reimbursement, 15.3%
  • Streamlined patient technology, 14.1%

Related: Definitive Healthcare Acquires HIMSS Analytics' Data Services

Outpatient care challenges

  • Implementing and investing in new technologies, 35.8%
  • Understanding industry consolidation, 28.5%
  • Staffing outpatient facilities, 16.2%
  • Attracting new patients, 13.1%

Krantz said that two factors influenced the responses from healthcare executives about new technologies.

One aspect was related to the clinical nature of outpatient care, specifically its minimally invasive surgery, while the second part dealt with the influx of new procedures over the past decade.

Krantz said similar advancements regarding electronic health records (EHR) has changed how provider organizations have been able to drive down costs.

"I think the EHR implementation is also part of what's driving technology as a growth driver for outpatient," Krantz said. "Because you can connect all of these physicians, physician groups or surgery centers with the hospital or imaging centers. Bringing all of that data together allows you to have your care in whatever [care site] is convenient."

Krantz added that the business strategy to launch new outpatient care facilities has become "more important than it ever has in the past" due to the consolidation in the space, with providers competing against the likes of CVS Health's MinuteClinic retail locations.

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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