5 Technologies for Forward-Thinking Surgery Centers
Here are five technologies that forward-thinking surgery center administrators and physicians are incorporating into their facilities.
1. Electronic medical records. EMR is already an essential technology in physician offices and hospitals, and more ASCs are now following suit. "The EMR standardizes and drives the best clinical practices," says Joe Macies, president and CEO of AmkaiSolutions. "It also eliminates the manual process that leads to human errors. With an EMR, there's no interpretation needed. You know what you see on the screen is how the information was entered. These are just a few of the numerous benefits of an EMR."
Patients are taking a more active role in managing their overall healthcare expenditure and outcomes, and are expecting providers to have the ability to electronically update their medical records.
"The Affordable Care Act is helping drive this, and the patient is becoming more central in determining where they go and how they want to spend their dollars," says Mr. Macies. "Even though ASCs haven't been nationally mandated to use EMR, certain states like Minnesota have mandated it and others are considering doing so as well. Competition is also driving this trend toward EMR. Patients are going to physician offices and hospitals that are already electronic, and if they walk into the ASC, they want to see similar, cutting-edge technology serving them there as well."
2. Patient tracking. Patient tracking software allows medical professionals and family members to track patients as they make their way through the surgical process. "This technology allows an ASC's nurses and staff members to track patient flow and identify whether there are any issues or areas for improvement in the surgical process," says Mr. Macies. "A patient's family or friends in the waiting room certainly appreciate the technology as well."
The use of patient tracking is a relatively new trend among surgery centers, and interested ASC leaders are now touring facilities that were early adapters to see the technology at work. "They are talking to their peers to learn more about this technology and how it would fit into their environment," says Mr. Macies.
3. E-prescribing. Physicians have the ability to e-prescribe medications, which allows them to send prescriptions from any place with secure Internet access and to electronically track all the medications patients are taking. "Physicians and nurses no longer have to ask the patients about medications; they can now see what the patient has purchased and been prescribed over the past few years," says Mr. Macies.
4. Systems connecting ASCs to physician practices. Now available to ASCs are Internet-based programs and software solutions that connect surgery centers with the offices of physician partners for the purposes of submitting appointment requests and passing patient data and billing information seamlessly.
"These processes are paperless and should be easy for an ASC to incorporate," says Mr. Macies. "They save time and energy for employees that can be put toward more important tasks than manually tracking down patient information. People want interoperability in technology. This includes not only the benefits of using an EMR in the ASC, but also having the EMR connected and talking to the physician practice, health exchanges and accountable care organizations. Having the ability to communicate with other systems and accumulate patient information is invaluable and is going to be a requirement in the future."
5. Automated administrative processes. Many ASCs are incorporating automated information gathering and processing systems to decrease or eliminate human error. "They can automate physician standing orders and dosages, and it really helps the facility to manage licensing and certification," says Mr. Macies. "That is becoming more onerous because of government regulations. There are a lot of new requests from CMS and HHS, and technology can help improve efficiency and accuracy in reporting."
In this rapidly changing and evolving healthcare environment, ASCs need to explore how the various technologies available can help keep ensure their organization keeps moving forward and maintaining a competitive advantage.
"A lot of people focus primarily on the cost of technology when they are considering whether to make an investment," says Joe Macies. "While cost is certainly an important factor to consider, it's more important to determine the return on investment as well as the long-term impact of the technology. The operational, financial and clinical benefits new technology brings will make an ASC much stronger, in both the short and long term."
More Articles on Surgery Centers:
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