5 Reasons to Bring the Surgery Center Pre-Admission Process Online

The pre-admission process makes a big impact on the surgery center, whether positively or negatively.Dr. Stephen Punzak, founder and CEO of Medical Web Technologies

"When done right, the pre-admission process can drive down costs and help prevent delays," says Dr. Steve Punzak, Founder and CEO of Medical Web Technologies. "ASCs lose money with cancellations and delays because their operating room is ready on time, tables are set, equipment is open and staff are ready. If you look at the true cost of a delay or cancellation, it's larger than most people think."

Here are five reasons why moving the pre-admission process online will help streamline tasks and improve profitability at your ASC:

1. Patients expect to interact with you on the Internet. People are familiar with online communication; from banking to travel, they are able to control their interactions online. "Bringing the pre-admission process online is a natural extension of the convenience they have become accustomed to," says Dr. Punzak. "Rather than catching the patient while they are driving in the car or trying to get work done, patients can enter their information when it's convenient for them."

Patients are also more likely to complete the information accurately if they are at home with a list of their medications readily available.

2. Patients' first impression of the facility is the pre-admission process. The first interaction most patients have with the surgery center is submitting their medical histories and other necessary information. "If the facility can show from the very beginning they care about making processes more convenient for the patient, that sets the rest of the visit up for success," says Dr. Punzak. "Conversely, if it's a game of phone tag between the patients and nurses and if the calls are viewed as an intrusion, patients will have a negative attitude that colors all other aspects of their stay."

There are multiple ways to inform patients about going online and creating the Medical Passport. The physician's office can provide that information or direct patients to the ASC's website with an easy clickable link.

"We also have the ability to contact the patient with HIPAA-compliant messages to remind them to register online if they haven't done so soon enough," says Dr. Punzak. "The system keeps track of which patients registered or haven't registered and nurses only have to call the patients who haven't done the Medical Passport."

3. Eliminates day-of-surgery surprises for anesthesia. When patients submit accurate information ahead of time, anesthesiologists can identify potential issues well in advance and avoid a day-of-surgery delay or cancellation. "Automated systems can screen for red flag issues, such as high BMI, history of sleep apnea or problems with a prior anesthetic," says Dr. Punzak. "The surgery center can customize criteria and find the problems in advance so they can be easily managed. When something is a surprise, everyone has to scramble to fix it."

4. Insurance information often needs updating. People often switch jobs and with healthcare reform legislation swinging into full gear, there may be more switching between insurance companies than in the past. "What the doctor's office has on file and sends to the ASC isn't always the most current information. Online pre-admission systems allow the patient to easily input up-to-date insurance and demographic information. The updated information is immediately available to the ASC," says Dr. Punzak. "With current information in hand, facilities can avoid costly billing delays."

Patients are able to save information on the portal so they don't have to complete all the questions in one sitting. "We realize patients' lives are very busy, so they can start and stop and the system will hold where they are in the process of registration," says Dr. Punzak. "All information they previously entered is there for them, and they can reuse information for future procedures. This feature is extremely useful for repeat patients such as pain management patients."

5. Online systems have high-security encryption. HIPAA requires the secure transfer and storage of patient information. Online portals, with the right security measures, provide a safe way to transfer and access patient information. "You don't want to work with a company that doesn't encrypt data or stores it with an offshore company," says Dr. Punzak. "The company should have multiple centers across the country so if something happens at one site another can take over without data being lost."

Most people still recommend keeping back-up data, Dr. Punzak says. "Is that back-up data there or offsite? It also important to inquire about encryption; if data is encrypted you don't have to worry about a data breach because the encrypted information is useless."

More Articles on Surgery Centers:
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Eliminate Bad Debt: 4 Steps for Ambulatory Surgery Centers

4 ASCs With Quick A/R Turnaround

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