4 Technologies for Improved Surgery Center Efficiency
1. Electronic scheduling. Using electronic scheduling can help an ASC get work done faster, and can increase patient satisfaction. Physician offices must run as efficiently as possible to create a positive experience for patients, said Oliver Kharraz, MD, COO and co-founder of ZocDoc. Many practices are concerned with implementing new technology and changing their processes because of the time and energy put into the change. However, more information technology companies are becoming savvy to these concerns and simplifying the integration process by using the Cloud.
"These systems should pull information on available times from the Cloud," he said. "We have tools on how the office manager can engage with these appointments. There is also a two-way messaging system to coordinate the times."
For practices that do not have electronic scheduling, there is a web-based gathering system that shows available times. "These platforms should be designed to have a minimum impact on workflow and provide all the information neatly written down in a copy/paste format that can be used easily," Dr. Kharraz said.
2. Patient information gathering system. 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," says Stephen Punzak, MD, is the founder and CEO of Medical Web Technologies, a developer of the Internet-based pre-admission software One Medical Passport. "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. Patient tracking. Key-Whitman Eye Center began using the Versus Advantages™ Real-time Locating System (RTLS), a patient tracking technology, and already sees improved efficiency. The technology records when patients are in each area of the ASC and how long they spend there so Nikki Hurley, BSRN, MBA, COE, Director of Surgical Services at Key-Whitman Eye Center, can extract information about patient wait times and identify bottlenecks in the process.
"This helps track patients throughout the process so you know where the breakdowns of communication can be within your own staff," she says. "If there is something holding them back in pre-op, the nursing staff can view that more readily and figure out how to make the process smoother. They can also deploy additional staff to help in real time, if necessary."
The data can be pulled for various reports to help refine processes. "We place the software on a hosting computer remote to our location and I can view the information from my satellite office," says Dan Chambers, Chief Administrative Officer with Key-Whitman Eye Center. "I know from 20 miles away how many patients are waiting and where the physicians and staff are in real time."
ASCs can also display a screen with the tracking system in their waiting rooms so families can see where their loved ones are. The program is HIPAA compliant and uses numbers or initials instead of full names on the screen.
4. Transcription. Surgery centers have lagged behind hospitals somewhat in terms of implementing technology, but the time for ignoring technological developments is past, says Jeff Blankinship, president of Surgical Notes.
He says increased utilization of information technology can improve work flow processes, and using technology for responsibilities such as transcription, scheduling and satisfaction can increase center efficiencies. Otherwise, these responsibilities would have to be allocated to a surgery center staff member, which costs money in yearly staffing costs.
More Articles on Surgery Centers:
The Challenges of Surgery Center Leadership: Q&A With Ravine Way Surgery Center
13 Recent Key Notes on ASC Management & Development Companies
8 Tips for Surgery Center Administrators in the Shifting Healthcare Landscape
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