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4 Advantages of Using Cloud-Computing Software for ASCs

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Stephen Punzak, MD, is the founder and CEO of Medical Web Technologies, a developer of the Internet-based pre-admission software One Medical Passport. Dr. Punzak is a practicing anesthesiologist for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

Dr. Stephen Punzak, founder and CEO of Medical Web TechnologiesCloud-computing software can be used to improve an ASC's business productivity and patient experience. "It's a low-cost way to bring disparate constituents together in healthcare," he says.

Here are Dr. Punzak's four advantages to implementing a cloud-based pre-admission computing system in your ASC.

1. Safety and cost effectiveness. Cloud-computing systems require very little in terms of infrastructure for ASCs, and patients only need access to a Web browser to take part. The essence of cloud computing is a secure, cost-effective way to manage patient information and communication, he says.

Other than subscription or software costs, cloud-computing systems do not require large financial investments from surgery centers. Choose a system compatible with your existing electronic health record, and pick a provider that can ensure information security, Dr. Punzak says.

"Obviously with anything that contains personal health information you will want to make sure you have very good security," Dr. Punzak says. "With cloud computing, rather than having to worry about security of servers actually housed at the ASC, your practice can contract with a company like ours to offer a level of security and reliability that would be expensive to duplicate on your own."

2. More accurate patient information. Cloud-based systems give patients the opportunity to complete their medical history at their convenience, which can eliminate problems that occur from information gathered over the phone.

"ASCs tend to call patients between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. when nurses are available," he says. "Half of the patients, statistically, will complete their Medical Passports after dinner time. It's a tremendous advantage for patients to be able to work on assessments at home where their medications are and where they have access to other health information."

Surgery center staff may call patients when they are working or driving, forcing them to complete information based on memory and increasing the chance of mistakes. At home, however, patients may have other information or family members nearby to remind them of critical information.

More accurate profile information prevents day-of-surgery delays or cancellations. "It eliminates surprises, where the patient has a health issue the center is unaware of or a medication he should've stopped," Dr. Punzak says.

3. Increased staff productivity and efficiency. Allowing most patients to fill out their own information through cloud-computing software frees up nurses and other staff members to perform more necessary duties throughout the center.

"Cloud computing gives staff the tools that are going to make them more productive during the day," Dr. Punzak says. "They can get away from paperwork and back to nursing. They'll spend less time shuffling paper and more time engaging in meaningful interactions with patients."

Medical Web Technologies' software also allows Medical Passports to be created for subsequent surgeries without entering duplicate patient information, he says. For a new procedure, patients can log back in and easily update their Medical Passport. This easy flow of information can be beneficial for pain management procedures or any other specialties where patients return frequently over a series of months, he says.

"Pick software that allows patient information to be easily updated, not completely redone, for any new visits and that has patients verify that their information is still accurate," Dr. Punzak says.

4. Ease of use. When selecting a cloud-computing system, choose one that will provide patients with an intuitive interface. If patients can easily work through the system, their information will be more complete and satisfaction greater.

"The software design has to be useable for patients the very first time they encounter it," he says. "User interface intuitiveness of the site needs to be very good. For example, with One Medical Passport, and we closely track how many minutes it takes patients to complete each individual page and the entire Medical Passport."

Patients who can compose an email or make an online purchase should be able to use cloud-based software, he says. A successful program will seem simple but have incredibly robust functionality. A nurse or office staff member can also easily fill out any information for patients who are unable to complete the Medical Passport themselves.

"Whether a patient or a nurse fills out a Medical Passport, most facilities have 100 percent of documentation in the One Medical Passport system," he says. "Do not underestimate patients — everybody uses the Web now, and even senior citizens are incredibly web savvy."

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