According to a just-released study conducted by SPH Analytics for the New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers (NJAASC) among patients who had a procedure performed at a New Jersey-based ambulatory surgery center (ASC) between September 2020 and March 2021, more than 99% strongly agreed or agreed that they felt safe at the New Jersey-based ASC they visited. This is compared to the more than 99% of patients who strongly agreed or agreed that they felt safe when visiting a New Jersey-based ASC between August 2019 and February 2020, before March 2020 when elective surgeries were put on hold by Executive Order as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The NJAASC/SPH Analytics Patient Experience Survey was based on surveys independently conducted by SPH Analytics during the six months prior to the Executive Order in March 2020, as well as the six months after ASCs were permitted to resume non-essential, elective surgery and invasive procedures at the end of May of 2020. ASCs – also known as “surgicenters” – are free-standing health care facilities that provide elective same-day or outpatient surgical procedures, including diagnostic and preventive procedures. There are approximately 320 ASCs in the State of New Jersey.
Specifically, of the 15,701 respondents, 87.82% strongly agreed and 11.88% agreed that they felt safe at the ambulatory surgery center they visited during the six-month period after elective surgeries were allowed to resume. This is compared with the 0.3% who said they disagreed or strongly disagreed.
NJAASC President Jeff Shanton noted, “The ASC industry in New Jersey was hit hard when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Since the vast majority of procedures performed at ASCs are for elective surgery and diagnostic procedures, visits to New Jersey’s ASCs came to a screeching halt. This, coupled with the fact that New Jersey and the surrounding areas were impacted more severely by COVID-19 than other parts of the country, made this an even more challenging period for ASCs in the state.
“In spite of this, New Jersey’s ASCs took purposeful steps to ensure that patients and staff alike could be treated and go to work in a healthy and safe environment,” Shanton explained.
“When COVID-19 shut down New Jersey in March 2020, NJAASC served as the point of contact between New Jersey’s ASCs and the Department of Health and assumed responsibility for communicating with all New Jersey ASCs, not just our member centers. In those first few months, NJAASC answered hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from ASCs around the state –with questions ranging from testing requirements, equipment and PPE inventory, to when ASCs would finally be able to open and maintain compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders. As a result, we saw firsthand just how committed New Jersey’s ASCs were to ensuring both patient and staff safety throughout the public health emergency,” Shanton explained.
“And then when New Jersey residents were open to coming back to physician offices and healthcare facilities for medical care in the summer of 2020, they returned to ASCs for expert, accessible, safe, and often more-affordable care for patients seeking same-day procedures, including diagnostic and preventative procedures, as well as outpatient surgery,” he added.
According to the survey, patients felt that they received good care in the process. The NJAASC/SPH Analytics Patient Experience Survey also revealed that nearly 99% of more than 22,000 patients surveyed in the six months after ASCs reopened in the summer of 2020 were confident in the care they had received, the same percentage of the more than 19,300 patients that were surveyed in the six months before the pandemic was declared in March 2020. In addition, during both periods, more than 98% of patients said they would recommend the ASC facility they visited to family and friends, another important indicator of consumer confidence in having procedures performed at ASCs.
“Worth noting, New Jersey’s ASCs provide a safe environment for patients because they are selective about the kinds of procedures that can be performed at ASCs and because they adhere to the same stringent standards as other healthcare settings under the oversight of the Department of Health and other regulatory and accrediting bodies,” Shanton explained. “In addition, ASCs typically don’t admit patients that have a variety of infections and illnesses that may present a risk to other patients, and of course, COVID-19 patients are not undergoing treatment for the virus at ASCs.”
“SPH Analytics is proud to work with NJAASC and the New Jersey ASC community and salutes their commitment to the health and safety of their patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of our annual survey demonstrate that, overwhelmingly, these ASCs have continued to provide high quality care and an excellent patient experience throughout the pandemic,” said Amy Amick, CEO of SPH Analytics.
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