you hope to achieve with an EMR pur- chase. If you achieve good business drivers built around efficiency, qual- ity and satisfaction, then you will most likely check all the boxes for compli- ance along the way.”

Identify Options To learn about EMRs available for sur- gery centers, attending ASC confer- ences is worthwhile, Harrison says. “The ASCA annual meeting is a great place to perform research. The vendors there are eager to go over what their systems have to offer. You can learn a lot in a short amount of time.” Kitz says reviewing conversations on EMRs on ASCA Connect and other discussion boards also can help. As you assemble a list of options, consider conducting a request for information (RFI), Stravers says. “An RFI is intended to gather information from a broad net of vendors that might be in a position to meet your ASC’s requirements. You can share informa- tion about your facility and require- ments, and have the vendors respond with information on ballpark pricing, included modules, technical require- ments and their approach to imple- mentation and support.” The difference between an RFI and a request for proposal (RFP), he says, is that an RFI is for the winnow- ing process rather than the process for determining a partner.

Assess Choices After you narrow down the num- ber of systems for consideration, it is time to take steps to evaluate your options more closely. Make sure to include several members of your staff in the evaluation process, Har- rison advises. “As an administrator, you are not

necessarily the one in the trenches who will be using the EMR all of the time,” she says. “You need to involve at least a member from the medical staff,

Kitz says it is advisable to request demonstrations of the systems, and make site visits—unaccompanied by vendor representatives—to other facilities that use the EMRs under consideration.

The ASCA annual meeting is a great place to perform research. The vendors there are eager to go over what their systems have to offer.”

— Crystal Harrison, RN, CASC Arête Surgical Center

nursing staff and your clinical direc- tor—or someone in a similar posi- tion—because they are going to be the individuals using it more.” With this team in place, it is a good

opportunity to create an RFP to send to the EMR vendors under consider- ation, Klein says. “The responses from vendors will be in a format that allows you to make a more balanced review. Develop success measures and goals of what you expect to achieve through the use of technology over the next five years. This will help in discussions with vendors to determine if the prod- ucts you review match expectations, today and in the future.”

“Seeing the system work in its entirety—from scheduling to taking a patient through an entire visit—will give you a better feel for what the sys- tem can provide your ASC,” Harrison says. “This is also an opportunity to get an honest opinion about the EMR from people who use it.” Stravers emphasizes the impor- tance of physician engagement in the EMR decision process. “Many facil- ities will allow physicians to skip meetings in the selection process. But oftentimes these physicians will later say their input was not included so they are not going to use the EMR. It is really important to involve phy- sicians up front and address their questions because, if not, you may pay for it in decreased productivity post-selection.”

Patience Pays Off When an ASC commits the time and effort needed to make an edu- cated decision on an EMR purchase, the benefits of the purchase are more likely to be realized and maximized, Stravers says. “The number one rea- son you do this is to get the full bene- fit of the investment. Facilities that do it right have their organization better aligned with common goals and strat- egies, which support a change in man- agement culture. They also have a bet- ter partnership with the vendor.” Harrison says, “Building your EMR

around your ASC is a long process, and you will likely encounter many road- blocks. But with the right vendor part- ner and system, you get through those obstacles and, in the end, have a system built and formulated specific to your ASC that you can adapt to your center as it goes through changes over time.”


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