Smooth Operators

The Ambulatory Surgery Center at UT Health Austin celebrates two years of outpatient surgery excellence

Reviewed by Joel Boehm, J. Stuart Wolf, Jr., MD, FACS; Jessica Hovland, DNP, RN, CPAN, NE-BC, PMGT-BC; and Alex B. Haynes, MD, MPH, FACS

Written by Lauren Schneider

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This September marks the two-year anniversary of the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC), an outpatient surgical facility at UT Health Austin.

The center is an important cornerstone of UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School’s contribution to medicine in the Austin community, according to J. Stuart Wolf, Jr., MD, who has served as the center’s Medical Director since the project began development five years ago.

“The ASC was one of the first things that the clinicians at Dell Medical School thought of doing as we looked at the landscape of medicine in Austin and asked ourselves what we could do to move us closer to value-based care.”

An affordable alternative

Dr. Wolf says that before the ASC opened, many doctors were sending patients to an inpatient hospital for outpatient procedures. “Based on the needs of the patient, inpatient hospitals, which have cost structures that support a range of very intensive medical specialties, are not always the optimal choice. Because our Ambulatory Surgery Center was custom-designed to support specific types of procedures, we can offer a convenient, high-quality, and cost effective option for patients who need that type of care.”

This model translates to lower copays for patients and a lower overall cost of service.

A ”one-stop shop” for surgical care

Besides the lower operating costs, another advantage of the ASC is the center’s integrated care model. UT Health Austin patients undergo surgery in the same building where their clinicians practice.

“It’s a one stop-shop where the patient is taken care of by different care providers all in one building,” says Jessica Hovland, DNP, the Administrative Director of the ASC.

“The multiple points of contact with our team affords patients the security of knowing that, if they have questions or concerns, either before surgery or afterwards, they’re able to easily get the answers they need,” says Alex B. Haynes, MD, a physician in the Surgical Oncology Clinic who performs operations in the ASC. “I think patients really value the close relationship that kind of communication can create.”

A growing presence in Austin

Although the ASC is an especially convenient location for UT Health Austin practitioners, these are not the only clinicians utilizing the facility.

According to Dr. Wolf, “any practicing, licensed surgeon can apply for credentials to do procedures at the ASC.”

While most surgeons who use the ASC are affiliated with UT Health Austin, the number of privately practicing clinicians who choose to operate there increases every month.

A culture of collaboration

The ASC has proven popular with patients as well as local surgeons.

Joel Boehm, a patient of Dr. Haynes, underwent surgery to remove a melanoma earlier this summer. “As stressful as my surgery inherently was, the ASC team worked to make it less stressful than I might have thought possible.”

The positive reception of the ASC among patients is reflected in the center’s high Net Promoter Score, a metric commonly used in surgical practices that measures how likely patients are to recommend a facility to a friend. Dr. Wolf attributes this feedback to the compassionate institutional culture fostered by Hovland in her administrative role.

“What sets our team apart is that they treat each other like family, which translates to the care each patient receives,” says Hovland. “Patients leave here feeling like they’re a part of our family as well.”

Hitting their stride

This positive culture allowed the ASC to weather the difficulties associated with opening at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. And, according to Hovland, “the ASC actually served as an important resource during those periods when hospitals were required to restrict or postpone elective surgeries because of COVID-controlled circumstances. We were able to offer our services throughout the pandemic, and we continued growing despite the challenges of the times.”

These plans for future growth include developing relationships with additional practitioners and insurance providers to make surgery at the ASC an option for even more patients.

“I see the ASC expanding its community footprint, offering more procedures and services to patients in our community, and expanding our team to become one of the top ASCs in the greater Austin area,” says Hovland.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.