Practicing in an OBL? The SVS is Here to Help

Sep 08, 2023

In the past several weeks, many Society for Vascular Surgery members have written posts in SVSConnect about practicing within the outpatient space, particularly in response to recent media coverage.

These robust – and at times, passionate – conversations make now an opportune time to remind SVS members once again that SVS is dedicated to positioning vascular surgeons to provide high-quality care across all practice settings. The SVS Community Practice Section (CPS) and the Sub-Section on Office and Outpatient Care (SOOVC) have been working diligently on new programs and resources including:

  • A statement now being developed by the SVS Community Practice Section (CPS) and its Subsection on Outpatient and Office Vascular Care (SOOVC), from the Society that highlights the importance of the OBL as a site of service, as well as specifics that make OBLs so important to patients, communities and SVS members. Said Robert Molnar, MD, on SVSConnect, “The OBL is a natural extension of the vascular services we provide as the need for vascular care will continue to grow and the majority of vascular procedures will be done in the outpatient setting. We will highlight the tremendous opportunities to enhance appropriate, high-quality, patient-focused, value-based vascular care.”
  • A planned summit with SVS and CPS and SOOVC leadership with potential for an open Town Hall to bring the membership together to discuss the cultivation of unity between among all SVS members as the Society works through the challenges of payment policy and media coverage on appropriateness of care.

SVS Secretary William Shutze, MD, stressed that SVS has offered, and continues to offer, vigorous support for ALL its members, including those practicing in the OBL space. This support includes:

  • The creation in 2018 of SOOVC, now a subsection of the Community Practice Section
    • a.    The section’s mission “is to establish a forum where members can work to advance the care of patients with vascular disease in outpatient settings by enhancing SVS efforts in education, advocacy, quality practice, ethics and research.” The section has grown to more than 130 members. 
    • b.    During the past two Vascular Annual Meetings, SOOVC, and other special membership sections, provided their own educational sessions. In 2023, the theme was “The Business of Running an OBL.” (A write-up on one aspect of the meeting ran in August’s Vascular Specialist; view the article here.)  
  • Endorsement of the creation last year of the SOOVC Presentation Award, recognizing vascular surgeons who have completed clinical research projects in an OBL or Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) practice and the SOOVC Research Seed Grant, which supports research in an OBL or ASC practice. Up to $10,000 each was provided to the three 2023 recipients to fund a data analyst to analyze research data for actionable insights, quality improvement and patient care.
  • Inclusion of OBLs in the new American College of Surgeons/SVS Vascular Verification Program. The outpatient-based program, to launch later this month, indicates the facilities’ commitment to improving outcomes and delivering the best treatment for parents in an outpatient setting. The inpatient program launched earlier this year.
  • Creation by SOOVC of a handbook to provide members with guidance on how to start and/or maintain an OBL. The handbook, which will be available soon, will be a live document that will be revised as needed.
  • Commitment to advocating for all members, including those with OBLs in several areas, including physician payment reform, fighting reimbursement cuts from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and reducing administrative burdens that impede timely access to care. Advocacy efforts have included:
  • Introduction this year of the Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act (H.R. 3674), which would targetcuts to office-based specialists for a targeted group of services for two years.
  • Establishment of the Clinical Labor Coalition to spearhead collaboration in securing relief from clinical labor cuts to office-based specialists.
    • Office-based specialty care is a critical service outside of the hospital setting,” said SVS advocacy leaders. “These specialists provide a wide range of services to patients with cancer, end-stage renal disease, fibroids, as well as limb salvage and venous ulcer needs. The office setting is critical to patient access (especially in rural and underserved areas), pandemic resilience (so hospitals can focus on COVID patients), and lower Medicare copays.” 

“The conversations on Connect represent our members’ passion for delivering high-quality care to all,” said Dr. Shutze, himself an OBL practitioner and who participated in the verification program in the piloting phase. “We are all trying to accomplish this in our own local circumstances. The Society is an important supporter of our goal, through advocacy efforts, creation of the subsection, the new verification program and more.”

And in presenting the SOOVC awards at the educational session at VAM, SOOVC Chair Anil Hingorani, MD, said of the subsection and its aims, “We do a lot of really good work in the OBL space and there’s really very little written about the OBL space.” The awards, he said, are meant “to encourage people to publish their information, present their information and support the research.” Research is “badly needed,” he said, and awards given this year will hopefully lead to presentations at VAM24.

Protecting and enhancing quality care in the outpatient space is a priority for the SVS which the leadership firmly endorses. All SVS Members interested in or working in outpatient settings are encouraged to join and engage with the activities of CPS and SOOVC. Learn more here.