Surgery - A Bright Spot in a Down Economy

You won't find it among the headlines about high unemployment, slow growth and declining home values, but quietly, one sector has thrived in the sluggish economy. Fueled in large part by demographics, health care — and surgery — just keeps on growing.

In 2010, a lousy year for most businesses, health care grew by a projected 5.7 percent, with a predicted average annual growth of 6.1% from 2011 through 2019. That makes it easily the fastest growing industrial sector in the U.S. By 2020, we'll spend $1 of every $5 on health care.

Health care is not only growing. It's growing more profitable. In 2010, hospital operating margins increased by 30% in Pennsylvania and 400% in California. The growth of ASCs has slowed slightly, but still one new center started up nearly every business day in 2009 and 2010. ASCs are growing their Medicare procedural volumes by more than 10% per year, and their profitability is strong. Pennsylvania ASCs reported an average margin of 26% in 2009.

Even unlicensed office-based surgery facilities, largely dependent on cosmetic procedures, are seeing a turnaround. After a dismal 9% drop in 2009, cosmetic plastic surgeons saw a 2% rebound in surgical procedures in 2010.

Slow economies make some marketers nervous, and therein lies opportunity. As investor Warren Buffett advises, be cautious when others are greedy and greedy when others are cautious.

Many studies show that vendors who are in front of decisionmakers and who've invested in relationships during the difficult times grow much faster and are more profitable than companies that do not. In one study of 600 companies during the 1981-82 recession, those that continued to advertise grew 256% faster than competitors that did not advertise. Advertising when competitors don't means customers hear your message more clearly. The relationships you build remain when the recession is over. As the old saying goes, when times are good you should advertise. When times are bad, you must a dvertise.

In good times and bad, the best way to reach the surgical marketplace is with Outpatient Surgery Magazine. The printed version reaches more than 75,000 decisionmakers, including nearly 10,000 key surgeons and other physicians, 15,000+ surgical facility managers and another 50,000 pass-along readers. The electronic versions add tens of thousands more. If you can help hospitals, ASCs and surgical suites create better outcomes or operate more efficiently, economically or safely, surgical leaders will listen. Outpatient Surgery can put your message in front of more of them than all other publications combined.

1. CMS National Health Expenditure Projections 2010-2020
2. Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council 2010 data
3. OSHPD Hospital Annual Financial Disclosure Reports
4. CMS Provider of Service Data, 2010
5. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
6. McGraw-Hill