The Office of Management and Budget gave the OK for HHS to launch the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database.
The decision comes as ambulatory surgery centers are treating more patients — a trend being pushed by payers, including Medicare, that want to move care away from more expensive inpatient settings.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sees the database, which will collect information from patient safety culture surveys, as a way to protect patients. AHRQ said it developed the survey for ASCs "in response to interest from ambulatory surgery centers in assessing patient safety culture in their facilities," and said it is "designed specifically for ASC staff and asks for their opinions about the culture of patient safety in their facility."
The ASC program is unlike other databases. It won't collect statistics like patient outcomes, safety or satisfaction.
ASC Association CEO William Prentice told Healthcare Dive the survey will instead measure staff perceptions of the facility's culture of safety. Prentice said his group supports the program.
"As part of their commitment to patient safety and high-quality care, hundreds of ASCs participated in the AHRQ Culture of Safety Project that produced these surveys and many other tools health providers, including many ASCs, continue to use today. We support AHRQ's efforts to continue to make these tools available on a voluntary basis to providers who find them useful," he said in a statement.
ASCs are becoming a more popular care location, according to AHRQ. Medicare-certified ASCs increased by 3.5% between 2011 and 2016. Meanwhile, ASC spending skyrocketed by about 27% in that time.
This trend is happening as CMS views ASCs as a lower-cost alternative to hospitals, and it will only intensify. The agency recently proposed adding 12 cardiac catheterization procedures to its coverage list for ASCs. CMS also removed total joint replacements from the inpatient-only list this year and recently proposed adding the procedures to the ASC coverage list.
In other ASC news, CMS said Monday it is reducing the regulatory burden for the centers. That includes "removing the provisions requiring ASCs to have a written transfer agreement with a hospital that meets certain Medicare requirements or ensuring that all physicians performing surgery in the ASC have admitting privileges in a hospital that meets certain Medicare requirements."
CMS additionally reduced requirements that a doctor or practitioner needs to conduct a comprehensive medical history and physical assessment not more than 30 days before a scheduled surgery.