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How to Design an Efficient and Cost-Efficient Ambulatory Surgery Center

Surgery Center Design for 2024
Elite Accreditation Consultants most recent design for an ASC.

## Introduction Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are crucial in providing patients efficient and cost-effective surgical care. Designing an ASC requires careful planning and consideration to ensure optimal functionality and cost efficiency. In this article, we will explore the key factors to consider when designing an ASC, including operating room size, space utilization, future expansion, use of glass, cost-efficient aesthetic design, and more. By implementing these strategies, healthcare providers can create ASCs that meet the needs of patients and medical staff, maximize operational efficiency, and maintain cost-effectiveness.

Operating Room Size

The size of the operating rooms in an ASC is an important consideration. Different specialties may have varying requirements for operating room size. For example, specialties like pain management or eye surgery may require smaller operating rooms, while others may need larger ones. It is essential to plan for future expansion by including at least one larger operating room, typically around 400 square feet, to accommodate surgeries that may require more space. This approach is commonly seen in eye centers, where all operating rooms are standardized at 400 square feet.

Space Utilization

Efficient space utilization is crucial in designing an ASC. Incorporating additional usable space into the footprint can enhance functionality and accommodate future needs. One approach is to incorporate alcoves branching off semi-restricted corridors or create more expansive passages leading to sterilization rooms. These additional spaces can be used for efficient storage of sterile supplies on carts. If the ASC expands to include additional specialties, these spaces can be repurposed to meet the new requirements.

Planning for Future Expansion

Planning for future expansion is a vital aspect of ASC design. Many ASCs experience growth within the first few years of operation due to increasing demand, the addition of more physicians, or regulatory agencies allowing for more complex procedures. It is wise to plan for additional operating rooms and support space during the initial design phase of the facility. By considering the future layout of the space and designing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems to accommodate expansion easily, ASCs can avoid costly renovations or disruptions to operations in the future.

The Use of Glass

The use of glass in ASC design can provide numerous benefits, such as natural light and views of the outdoors. Natural light has been shown to improve patient outcomes and enhance the working environment for medical staff. However, it is essential to strategically locate glass to maximize its positive impact while avoiding potential issues. For example, in areas of high humidity, such as operating rooms and recovery areas, condensation can be a concern when windows are introduced on exterior walls. Careful design and placement of windows can mitigate these issues and ensure energy efficiency and patient satisfaction.

Cost-Efficient Aesthetic Design

Aesthetic design plays a significant role in creating a welcoming and pleasant environment for patients in an ASC. While it is important to maintain regulatory guidelines, there are opportunities to upgrade interior finishes with proper research and implementation at minimal cost. Floor patterns, painted accent walls, and thoughtful use of colors can provide visual interest and impact in clinical areas. Creating a good first impression in the front entry and lobby can be achieved by investing in modern design elements and finishes, while other exterior walls can utilize less expensive materials. This approach balances cost efficiency to create a state-of-the-art facility.

Meeting Physicians' Needs

To provide the best patient care, it is essential to consider the needs and preferences of the physicians who will be using the ASC. Collaborating closely with physicians during the design process ensures they feel comfortable and have the necessary equipment, tools, supplies, and staff to provide safe and effective care. By tapping into their expertise, ASCs can address gaps between existing resources and physician requirements, ensuring a seamless and efficient workflow.

Incorporating Advanced Technologies

Integrating advanced technologies into ASC design can enhance patient care and operational efficiency. The latest technological advancements, such as non-invasive procedures and robotic platforms, offer less invasive treatment options and faster recovery times. For example, the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technology in prostate tissue ablation allows for precise targeting and destruction of a small portion of the prostate, minimizing side effects and enabling same-day surgeries. By embracing innovative technologies, ASCs can stay at the forefront of medical advancements and attract patients seeking the latest treatments.

Patient Experience and Comfort

Creating a warm and welcoming environment for patients is essential in an ASC. Patients may feel anxious before surgery, so it is crucial to help them relax and feel comfortable. Thoughtful design choices, such as soothing colors, comfortable waiting areas, and amenities like TV and coffee stations, can contribute to a positive patient experience. Clear wayfinding signage and easy navigation throughout the facility can reduce patient stress and enhance overall satisfaction.

Efficient Workflow and Operational Flow

Efficient workflow and operational flow are key to the success of an ASC. Designing the facility's layout to accommodate smooth patient flow, from check-in to the operating room and recovery area, is critical. Minimizing unnecessary steps and optimizing the proximity of key areas, such as preoperative and post-anesthesia care units, can improve efficiency and reduce wait times. Collaboration with healthcare professionals from various disciplines, including surgeons, nurses, and administrative staff, is crucial in designing an ASC that promotes seamless workflow and effective communication.

Safety and Regulatory Compliance

Patient safety and regulatory compliance are top priorities in ASC design. Compliance with local, state, and federal regulations ensures high-quality care and minimizes the risk of adverse events. Adhering to infection control protocols, fire safety standards, and accessibility requirements is essential. Engaging with experts in healthcare facility design and seeking accreditation from reputable organizations can help ASCs ensure that their facilities meet the highest safety standards.


Designing an efficient and cost-effective Ambulatory Surgery Center requires careful planning, collaboration, and consideration of various factors. From operating room size to space utilization, future expansion, use of glass, cost-efficient aesthetic design, and meeting physicians' needs, every aspect plays a crucial role in creating a successful ASC. By focusing on patient experience, efficient workflow, advanced technologies, and regulatory compliance, ASCs can deliver high-quality surgical care while maximizing cost-effectiveness. With the right expertise and careful attention to detail, ASCs can become premier destinations for outpatient surgical procedures, providing exemplary patient care and setting new standards in healthcare delivery.


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