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5 incentives to watch in ASC documentation

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It's an exciting time in ambulatory surgery center documentation. While most ASCs have the hang of electronic (or outsourced) billing solutions, clinical documentation has historically been largely paper-based. Now, that's beginning to change. The following are developing incentives driving the switch to electronic clinical documentation shared by Stephen Hau, founder and CTO of Shareable Ink, a simplified clinical documentation company based out of Nashville, Tenn.

1. CMS is regulating more in the ASC setting. "This is what we're seeing in the whole healthcare marketplace," says Mr. Hau. "ASCs can't be standalones anymore — they have to work in a community setting. There's a need for data and data exchange."

2. Patient volumes are a factor in the abandonment of paper records. Accommodation of higher patient volumes and more efficient patient cycling, both of which are in many cases necessary to handle changes in reimbursements, are more manageable with electronic documentation capabilities.

3. Reimbursements are being tied to quality metrics. Quality reporting is possible through paper records, but the caliber of record-keeping must be meticulous. With electronic templates, prompts and submission abilities, quality reporting becomes less of an unfathomable undertaking and more of a fixture of the daily documentation routine.

4. Clean data is the new "currency" of care. Being able to segment data in various ways is increasingly important, as healthcare organizations must have the ability to analyze how their operations affect the quality of care provided.

5. "Gamification" of data can improve benchmarking efforts. Gamification, or applying the principles of game design to non-games, makes benchmarking more of a challenge. In an electronic system, surgeons may be able see, for instance, who has the best outcomes, least expensive surgeries or highest patient satisfaction rates. Finding out how one is doing compared to one's peers can spur competition leading to improvement.

Shareable Ink itself is capitalizing on these trends to build features into its product that resonate with the needs of ASCs around the country. In addition, the company has partnered with the Anesthesia Quality Institute to create tools allowing anesthesiologists to participate directly in sharing data with national quality registries. This functionality also has applications for the purpose of accreditation and comprehensive benchmarking efforts.

"We've seen a lot of success in ASCs that make the additional investment [in electronic documentation]," says Mr. Hau. "In the ASC space it's becoming clearer that good, clean data is hard to come by. Using a system that won't [negatively] impact productivity and helps clinicians to document efficiently facilitates data-based solutions [in clinical settings]."

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