Tech Advantage

Put your IT system to work to improve and demonstrate quality BY ROBERT KURTZ


urgery centers have a responsibil- ity to patients to continuously seek

opportunities to improve the care they provide, and technology can play a critical role in these efforts, says Jean Day, RN, director of education for Pin- nacle III, an ASC management and development company based in Lake- wood, Colorado. “Performance improvement needs to be continuous,” she adds. “Staff mem- bers should ask themselves what they are doing to improve the patient experience. When they respond by saying they are interested in optimizing the patient expe- rience, that says quality to me. Technol- ogy can help achieve this daily goal.”

Internal Improvements Since 2007, Valley Ambulatory Sur- gery Center in St. Charles, Illinois, has used computer systems to record any incident affecting the patient experi-


ence that deviates from what the ASC identifies as the “norm,” says Deborah Lee Crook, RN, CASC, administrator at the ASC. “We call it risk identification,” she

says. “It is not just sentinel events; it is everything from a bruise on a patient to a negative patient complaint to a full myocardial infraction. We monitor these and many other types of events. When these events happen, we make a note of them in a web-based system.” Over the years, the ASC has used

several different programs to track these events and improve the risk identification process. According to Crook, there are many benefits to having all of that data available at the click of a few buttons.

“One of the most significant ben- efits is that it removes the noise that can get in the way of determining whether we have a real problem,” she

says. “For example, if a patient com- plains of being rushed out quickly, we can check our data to see whether this is a recurring issue or an anom- aly. As another example, if there is a report that an ophthalmologist needed to perform a vitrectomy, we can look to see whether this is a fre- quent problem or if the surgeon has performed 1,000 procedures and has a very low rate.” Without the ability to review his-

torical data, Crook suggests, her team would be more likely to make knee- jerk decisions and try to put out fires that are not really fires. The data, she says, helps the ASC quickly identify what is really a problem and what is a one-time incident. Another advantage of using tech-

nology, Day says, is that ASCs can easily increase the number of qual- ity indicators they track without add- ing significantly more work for staff members. “In our organization, we are collecting data on about 50 dif- ferent quality indicators. They are

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