Put Digital Charts to Work Save time, improve efficiency and gain patient satisfaction BY WILL CAMPBELL

ASCs spend a lot of money on the materials needed to build a paper chart. Cen- ters shell out roughly $7 per chart, and that doesn’t

include the time and labor office staff invest in assembling, retrieving, tak- ing apart and reassembling them. A typical ASC spends 5 minutes build- ing a patient chart, which translates into an entire business day per month for every 100 cases. Then there’s med- ical records storage and shredding. Put all those figures together, and paper charting adds a lot to the average $1.5 million an ASC allocates to operat- ing expenses each year, according to VMG Health’s 2018 Multi-Specialty ASC Benchmarking Study.

The cost of paper charting is just

the beginning. Driven by the need to reduce cost and streamline opera- tions—not to mention ensure bet- ter Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliance, improve care quality and gain greater insight into business and clinical operations—ASCs need more than a series of easily misplaced or dif- ficult-to-retrieve paper charts. According to ASCA’s 2018 Clinical & Operational Benchmarking Survey, half of all ASCs that participated in the survey have moved to digital patient charts or, as most of us call them, elec- tronic health records (EHR). For those who have tossed the paper chart in favor of digital, here are some of the benefits they have begun to realize.

Digital Time Savings Time is everything for ASCs. Mov- ing patients from preop to discharge requires thinking carefully about

istrator has spent nights and weekends doing just that, only to discover they are missing a valuable metric. Digital patient charting unlocks data for reg- ular reports as well as highly special- ized updates and sophisticated analytics reporting without the hassle. Prompts within most systems help prevent incor- rect data entry and alert users to errors and other issues that need attention.

In an industry where every second counts, investing in digital technology helps ASCs improve patient care and the bottom line.”

— Will Campbell Simplify ASC

how every minute is devoted to that patient’s care. Moving to digital saves time chasing down misplaced or incomplete charts. What is more, if they are supported in the right way, they can be easily accessed by com- puter, tablet or smartphone.


Using paper charts, preparing for a board meeting or developing a quick snapshot of key performance indica- tors requires pulling data from a vari- ety of sources. Many an ASC admin-


Get an Edge on the Competition Whether you are an independent or cor- porate ASC, the competition is heating up. The ASC market is growing at a sig- nificant pace while inpatient surgeries are declining, according to a June 2018 report from KaufmanHall. Hospitals and health systems, as well as insurance companies and private equity firms, are showing greater interest in acquiring ASCs, either for outright purchase or to forge joint ventures. In some regions, this will lead to an increasingly consol- idated ASC market. Moving to a digital patient chart

gives the independent ASC a compet- itive edge. By providing everything from automated patient registration to flagging missed physician signatures and automating data entry that staff had to tediously enter and re-enter using paper forms, digital charts free staff up to focus on ways to improve and strengthen operations, not just get through the day.

Patient Experience Having a surgical procedure is stress- ful. Being asked the same informa- tion repeatedly while you prepare for the surgery is annoying. With the move to digital, ASC staff can note allergies and other pivotal information during

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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