Washington, Pa. hospital turns profit from specialty cases
With "fine cuisine" catered in for overnight patients and personalized service, Advanced Surgical Hospital touts itself as the Ritz-Carlton of hospitals.
Owned by doctors, the Washington facility opened last year and turns a profit by being more efficient than traditional hospitals, CEO Lloyd Scarrow said.
That means focusing on elective surgeries while turning away complicated cases in which the patient could end up needing emergency care. The hospital does not have an emergency room.
"I'm not trying to be all things to all people," Scarrow said. "I'm not trying to deliver babies, trying to cure oncology issues and having burn patients come into my trauma unit via helicopter.
"I have a very focused campus and my efficiencies are driven around that."
Sitting on a bluff above Washington Crown Center mall, the hospital has a pharmacy, laboratory and physical therapy area. Because the hospital specializes in certain types of surgical cases -- such as orthopedics, eyes and plastic surgery -- it has doctors and equipment tailored for those procedures.
For patients, the specialty or "boutique" hospitals typically provide the same or better care than typical facilities, said Kenneth Thorpe, professor of health policy and management at Emory University in Atlanta.
They also carve out the most profitable cases.
"The traditional community hospitals have been concerned that the specialty hospitals are taking the cream of the crop off their books and leaving them with all the patients that lose money," Thorpe said.
Nationwide, physicians own 275 hospitals, according to Physician Hospitals of America, an industry trade group. The new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bans existing physician-owned hospitals from expanding and prohibits construction of such hospitals.
The concern is that when physicians own a specialty hospital, they have a financial incentive to order tests and procedures from which they profit, said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
"You don't want to get over-tested or over-treated because suddenly or overtly, the doctor has an incentive to do more," he said.
Dr. John Gibbons, an orthopaedic surgeon and one of Advanced Surgical's 10 owners, said the financial conflicts at the hospital are no greater than at nonprofit facilities vying for patients and paying doctors based on the number of cases they handle.
Posters throughout Advanced Surgical notify patients about the doctors' ownership interests.
Dr. Vincent Ripepi, an orthopaedic surgeon, and other co-owners say they always advise patients of their options.
"It's always, always a patient choice," Ripepi said.
Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Greek debt fears, surge in dollar nip at stock market
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Rayburn offering tax breaks to businesses along 2 roads
- Dayton man charged with stabbing friend
- E. Allegheny teachers silent about finding
- Pirates win 5th straight as offense continues to click in win over Marlins
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto in Cuba on manufacturing trade mission
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison open for larger role
- Arrest made in 2014 case of Blawnox man found dead in Oakland
- UPMC offering buyouts to 3,500 employees in cost-cutting move