This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
FEATURE Take a Virtual Step Forward


Are paper records putting your ASC behind the competition? Now might be the time to switch to an electronic medical record system. BY JOE MACIES AND THOMAS PINELLI JR.


Macies Pinelli


New technology in an ASC is often perceived as demonstrat- ing a commit- ment to main-


taining a modern facility and keeping up to date with new and emerging advances in practice. It can also offer substantial improvements and efficien- cies over older tools. An investment in an electronic medical record (EMR) system can mean both in an ASC.


Attract and Retain Patients, Physicians and Staff


An EMR is such a significant improve- ment over paper records that the lack of one might drastically alter the opin- ion of your ASC in the eyes of all of your ASC’s customers, which include patients, physicians and staff. Patients: When it comes to health care, cutting-edge technology is often associated with cutting-edge care. If the local hospital and physician prac- tices have EMRs but your ASC does not, what message does that send to patients? Patients who come into your ASC and see old technology might perceive that you are not providing the best care possible. Patients are personally investing in


new technology, and they expect the businesses they interact with to do the same. What will they think when their ASC asks them to fill out paperwork on a clipboard? Will they be less in- clined to fill out satisfaction surveys that need to be mailed back rather than completed online? ASCs pride them- selves on their efficiency. The use of a


paper-based system appears counter to this claim. Physicians: Physicians are likely


using an EMR in their practices and af- filiated hospitals and are being trained on EMRs in school. If your ASC does not have an EMR, physicians will need to spend more time document- ing cases and will not have the ability to remotely access their schedule and charts. Lack of an EMR could discour- age them from bringing cases to and investing in an ASC. In the competitive environment in which health care pro- viders are operating today, ASCs can- not afford to give physicians a reason to take their cases to another facility. The absence of an EMR also can lead to additional physician frustra- tions. Will their return on investment and dividends decline because more staff is needed to operate the ASC? Will their office staff need to spend more time communicating information to the ASC and less time performing other important tasks for the practice? Will patient satisfaction decline when ASC staff cannot provide patients with adequate attention because of the time needed to complete paper records? Staff: Staff members are similar


to physicians in that they are likely coming from facilities where an EMR is standard. If an ASC is interested in attracting and retaining top talent, it must maintain a positive, productive work environment. Asking staff to use an inefficient, paper-based system, when there is a more efficient EMR al- ternative, might have an effect on team morale and loyalty to the ASC. One common example of this frustration


SPECIAL FEATURE— TECHNOLOGY


can be seen in nurses who work in both a hospital and an ASC and have to step back in efficiency when transitioning to paper-based records at the ASC.


Benefits of EMR There are considerable benefits of us- ing an EMR in all areas of an ASC’s operations, including quality and safe- ty, financial performance, efficiency and compliance. From a quality and safety perspec-


tive, for example, an EMR standard- izes processes and provides alerts that warn staff of missing steps during a patient’s visit. An EMR can also help identify other potentially harmful fac- tors, like dangerous drug interactions. EMRs require documentation of task completion, such as completion of the Universal Protocol/surgical time-out checklist and an update of the history and physical. EMRs also help ASCs make and track critical postoperative patient phone calls. From a financial perspective, an


EMR provides access to substantial data that helps with benchmarking, case costing and scheduling optimiza- tion. It reduces the need for staff mem- bers assigned to recordkeeping and fil- ing. An EMR also cuts costs associated with paper records storage, backup systems and records retrieval. An EMR system improves charting


speed and efficiency. It makes report- ing quality measures to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and submitting benchmarking data to ASCA, the national accrediting bodies and other organizations significantly faster. It frees up staff time to focus on other aspects of patient care. It also re- moves significant obstacles to produc- tivity, such as incomplete or inaccurate charts and illegible handwriting. Finally, from a compliance perspec-


tive, an EMR enables ASCs to search for and retrieve information more eas-


The advice and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion. 16 ASC FOCUS MAY 2013


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38