mation between practices and ASCs, and providing an alternative to cum- bersome storage requirements for paper records,” she says.

Determine Your Needs

While it might be easy to understand the reasons to consider purchasing an EMR, understanding which EMR to purchase is not easy and is not a deci- sion to be taken lightly, says Crystal Harrison, RN, CASC, administrator and clinical director for Arête Surgical Center in Johnstown, Colorado. Her ASC implemented an EMR six months after it opened in 2013. Based on that experience, she rec-

Purchasing an EMR

Do your research before you buy BY ROBERT KURTZ


SCs have many reasons to pur- chase an electronic medical records (EMR) system.

One is that health care providers

of every kind are rapidly adopting electronic records, says Cindy Klein, vice president and chief medical information officer of United Surgi- cal Partners International, an owner, operator and developer of ASCs and short-stay surgical hospitals nationwide based in Addison, Texas. “Although the Meaningful Use pro- gram does not directly affect ASCs, the indirect effects are compelling ASCs to have a better understand- ing of EMRs, interoperability and the role that ASCs need to play in the electronic health transformation.” Phil Stravers, partner at ICE Tech-

nologies, a health care information technology consulting and managed services firm based in Pella, Iowa, sees


changing reimbursement models as a significant driver of these decisions in the ambulatory surgical space. “We are moving toward the pay-

for-performance model of reimburse- ment,” he says. “To justify those pay- ments, more clinical quality data is required. That increases the documen- tation requirements, need for docu- mentation standardization and the abil- ity to electronically extract trend lines and generate meaningful reports.” There are other benefits as well,

says Deborah Kitz, principal at Bro- shar Consulting, a health care con- sulting firm focused on ASCs, hospi- tals and physician practices and based in Horsham, Pennsylvania. “These can include meeting the expectations of younger practitioners who went through training with EMR systems, facilitating

efficient communication/ transfer of scheduling and other infor-

ommends, “You want to do all you can to make the best decision possible. The last thing you want is to rush a decision and discover the system—or vendor— you selected is not right for your ASC.” One of the first steps to take to

help make a smart purchase is to learn about EMRs, Klein says. “In the long run, the time and effort spent in prep- aration will be worthwhile and allow more control for the ASC in the deci- sion-making process. There are books available through the Health Informa- tion Management Systems Society that provide knowledge about EMRs as well as tools for selection and imple- mentation. is also a good source for resources.” Kitz says that an important early

step for ASCs to take—even before researching

system and vendor

options—is to determine the function- alities desired from an EMR. “This can include electronic communication with practitioner software, communi- cation with management/billing soft- ware and reporting capabilities.” Stravers advises ASCs to consider bringing in key leaders to perform a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. “That is a good way to brainstorm and deter- mine the true business issues you are trying to solve. You really need to understand the key business objectives

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