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FEATURE


physical assessment of a patient prior to a procedure; and the documentation of patient assessment and a signed, dated and timed discharge order be- fore a patient is released.


Assessment tools in an EMR also help to identify patients at a higher risk


of an incident. For example,


one surgery center in South Caro- lina used its EMR to greatly reduce its fall rate. Whenever high-risk fall scenarios


present themselves, the


EMR indicates this to ASC staff members who can then take extra precautions and proactive measures to keep patients safe. As another ex- ample, use of an EMR’s automated deep vein thrombosis assessment can help ASCs avoid the condition that is connected to more than 300,000 surgery-related deaths each year.


Justifying the Investment in an EMR System


EMRs offer a multitude of benefits to an ASC’s patients, physicians and staff. BY JOE MACIES


S


witching to electronic medical re- cords (EMRs) requires an invest- ment of both time and money. But it’s an investment more and more ASCs throughout the country are making to deal with challenges such as lower re- imbursement; leaner staff; more com- petition; and increased scrutiny by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), third-party payers and regulatory bodies. ASCs across the country are realizing that an EMR system’s many benefits can positively affect everyone in the surgery center— including patients, physicians and staff.


Quality and Safety Improvement When considering whether or not to invest in an EMR system, an ASC’s leaders must weigh how the investment will affect the center’s ability to both ensure patient safety and provide high- quality care. An EMR can support an ASC’s efforts to improve both.


Often, staff members find greater confidence in their ability to enhance patient safety thanks to the “self- policing” aspect of an EMR system. EMR systems can deliver reminders to staff members of critical steps that they need to take pre- and postopera- tively and require the team to docu-


Financial Improvement


While an EMR requires an upfront in- vestment in the software and the hard- ware needed to support the system, ASCs making the switch to an EMR will ultimately see a positive impact on their bottom line.


Benchmarking is vital to the short- and long-term success of an ASC, and an EMR provides numerous opportu- nities to analyze important statistics. One large, multi-specialty surgery cen- ter in Tennessee uses the extensive data provided by its EMR to benchmark a


Surveyors approach surveys with the belief that ‘if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.’ An EMR, through its self- policing and prompts, helps ensure that every step taken and every task performed and completed during a patient’s visit is recorded and, thus, documented.”


—Joe Macies, AmkaiSolutions


ment completion of these steps and processes before continuing with the case. Such processes may include the surgical time out; the requirement for a physician to sign off on an updated


14 ASC FOCUS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


significant number of activities, in- cluding physician productivity, profit margins and turnover time. It also uses the EMR data to perform detailed case costing and analysis; identify histori-


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