EHR Systems in Your ASC Wide-ranging benefits easily justify the cost BY LINDSAY MCQUEENEY HANRAHAN


hen electronic health record (EHR) systems were first devel- oped in the late ’60s and early ’70s, their use was mostly limited to select large hospitals. Broader adoption of EHRs occurred in the ’90s among hos- pitals and physician practices in an attempt to further improve data collec- tion, patient safety and quality of care. During this time, more administrative functions and workflow capabilities were integrated into the systems, and a much broader market started to see the value in having an EHR. In the early 2000s, EHRs began making their way into ASCs. More ASCs became interested in EHR technology and its benefits fol- lowing the introduction of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009 and meaningful use in 2010. Although ASCs are not eligible for meaningful use incentives at this time, some of the individual physicians working in ASCs might be considered eligible providers (EP). To maintain this status, these physicians must use certified technology for at least 50 per- cent of their patient encounters. At this time, there is no certified EHR system for ASCs, so although physicians need to count their patient encounters in the ASC setting toward their meaningful use quota, no ASC can offer its physicians a certified EHR. Pending legislation (see www. could bring some relief to ASCs and their physicians on this issue. Meanwhile, that situation and plans for requiring the expanded use of EHR systems in the future has created broader awareness of EHR


Until 2010, prescriptions for narcot- ics could not be prescribed electroni- cally. Fast forward to 2015: the indus- try is seeing significant growth in pain management case volume. Not only is electronic prescribing of controlled substances common, but electronic prescribing of all medications is begin- ning to be required in certain states and is part of meaningful use requirements for inpatient and outpatient care set- tings. Because a prescription can auto- matically feed into the patient’s chart and home medication list, this feature can also help streamline the medica- tion reconciliation process.

systems and the ways that ASCs can benefit from this evolving technology.

More than a Data Repository An EHR system can help an ASC increase patient safety, drive effi- ciencies and ensure that the facility is meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements. For example, real-time integration of patient data from med- ical devices automatically feeds data such as vital signs from various patient monitors into the EHR system. This process eliminates the need for nurses to manually enter information. By automating the entire data entry pro- cess, errors resulting from mistyped or handwritten information are avoided while nurses are afforded more time to focus on patient care. ASCs today also can take advan- tage of the electronic prescribing capa- bilities that EHRs frequently offer.

Tracking and Reporting EHR technology can play a key role in helping an ASC avoid payment pen- alties by enhancing the facility’s abil- ity to meet Medicare’s evolving qual- ity reporting requirements. Software makes it infinitely easier to track prog- ress and performance on the details and requirements for each measure, such as any requisite codes, inclu- sions, exclusions and reporting inter- vals. EHRs also provide the necessary automation to remind staff what qual- ity information to capture and when this information should be submitted. EHR systems also make it easier

for ASCs to measure the quality of services they provide and their overall performance. Those data reports can help the facility achieve accreditation and streamline everyday processes that affect both staff and patients. Business analytics tools that can

be integrated into an ASC’s EHR soft- ware can provide valuable insight into a center’s case costing, staff produc- tivity, supply utilization, and staff and

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

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