Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Carl F. Ameringer

Second Advisor

Roice D. Luke

Third Advisor

Wally R. Smith

Fourth Advisor

I-Shian Suen


Advances in medical technology have altered the need for certain types of surgery to be performed in traditional inpatient hospital settings. Less invasive surgical procedures allow a growing number of medical treatments to take place on an outpatient basis. Hospitals face growing competition from ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). The competitive threats posed by ASCs are important, given that inpatient surgery has been the cornerstone of hospital services for over a century. Additional research is needed to understand how surgical volume shifts between and within acute care general hospitals (ACGHs) and ASCs. This study investigates how medical technology within the hospital industry is changing medical services delivery. The main purposes of this study are to (1) test Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation in health care, and (2) examine the effects of disruptive innovation on appendectomy, cholecystectomy, and bariatric surgery (ACBS) utilization. Disruptive innovation theory contends that advanced technology combined with innovative business models—located outside of traditional product markets or delivery systems—will produce simplified, quality products and services at lower costs with broader accessibility. Consequently, new markets will emerge, and conventional industry leaders will experience a loss of market share to “non-traditional” new entrants into the marketplace. The underlying assumption of this work is that ASCs (innovative business models) have adopted laparoscopy (innovative technology) and their unification has initiated disruptive innovation within the hospital industry. The disruptive effects have spawned shifts in surgical volumes from open to laparoscopic procedures, from inpatient to ambulatory settings, and from hospitals to ASCs. The research hypothesizes that: (1) there will be larger increases in the percentage of laparoscopic ACBS performed than open ACBS procedures; (2) ambulatory ACBS will experience larger percent increases than inpatient ACBS procedures; and (3) ASCs will experience larger percent increases than ACGHs. The study tracks the utilization of open, laparoscopic, inpatient and ambulatory ACBS. The research questions that guide the inquiry are: 1. How has ACBS utilization changed over this time? 2. Do ACGHs and ASCs differ in the utilization of ACBS? 3. How do states differ in the utilization of ACBS? 4. Do study findings support disruptive innovation theory in the hospital industry? The quantitative study employs a panel design using hospital discharge data from 2004 and 2009. The unit of analysis is the facility. The sampling frame is comprised of ACGHs and ASCs in Florida and Wisconsin. The study employs exploratory and confirmatory data analysis. This work finds that disruptive innovation theory is an effective model for assessing the hospital industry. The model provides a useful framework for analyzing the interplay between ACGHs and ASCs. While study findings did not support the stated hypotheses, the impact of government interventions into the competitive marketplace supports the claims of disruptive innovation theory. Regulations that intervened in the hospital industry facilitated interactions between ASCs and ACGHs, reducing the number of ASCs performing ACBS and altering the trajectory of ACBS volume by shifting surgeries from ASCs to ACGHs.


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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013