5 Steps to Quality Preoperative Processes in an ASC

The following article is written by Mary Sturm, VP of clinical operations for Surgical Management Professionals.


As the saying goes, "You only have one chance to make a first impression." For many of us in ambulatory surgery centers, that first impression starts well before our patient crosses the threshold of the ASC. The following are five tips to promote efficient and quality processes for the preoperative patient preparation.


1. Patient education at the time of scheduling

The first "touch" with the patient frequently comes at the time of the procedure scheduling via the physicians' office staff. Create and maintain excellent relationships with office scheduling staff to ensure that they are familiar with distributing accurate and patient friendly ASC information at the time of scheduling.


2. Quality patient preoperative phone calls

Work with clinic staff to obtain good patient contact information, including cell phone information and a "good time to call." In today's mobile, working society, it is necessary to staff the pre-op phone calls function earlier in the morning and later into the afternoon and early evening to find a successful time to complete phone calls.


Comprehensive pre-op phone training for nursing staff is essential. Pre-op phone calls are many times the first opportunity to instill confidence that your ASC is an efficient, compassionate and quality facility for them or a loved one to have their procedure. Consider and promote standing orders and processes to empower nursing staff. This is especially important when talking to the parent of a pediatric patient. Many times, the parent's anxiety is equal or greater than the pediatric patient. Consider conducting a pediatric tour prior to the procedure to allay fears and concerns for both the parent and patient.


Avoid multiple phone calls. Because of dynamic surgeon and facility schedules, it is possible that the originally anticipated surgery time may change a few times before the date of the procedure. A successful model includes calling the patient to obtain a health history up to a week ahead of the surgery, but inform the patient that they will receive a call the day before the procedure date with the arrival time. This also becomes an efficiency and labor issue for the surgery center. Making multiple phone calls to patients regarding time changes is counterproductive for the ASC staff.


3. Consider an online registration/health history option for patients

Recent patient satisfaction scores, as well as a Surgical Management Professionals' benchmarking activities, demonstrate that provision of online patient history and medication information is quickly becoming "best practice" for quality and efficiency for both patients and ASC facilities. Interestingly, while we may tend to stereotype that older patients may not be comfortable or savvy with this technology, we are actually finding that many retired individuals have the time and opportunity to embrace this option.


4. Tie it all together

The goal of all of these efforts is to create a safe, well-organized and quality experience for all parties. Ensure that someone at the ASC is point for utilizing all the patient information obtained to assess for completeness — is the history and physical complete and on the medical record? Is all necessary lab work reported? It is certainly frustrating to delay or cancel a procedure because of lack of coordination of necessary steps.


5. Evaluate

As part of your quality improvement program, include patient, physician and staff satisfaction with preoperative processes. Are they as streamlined and effective as possible?


Preoperative patient preparation is an essential part of the patient experience at your ASC. Attention to these processes can positively impact the experience for all involved.


Learn more about Surgical Management Professionals.

More Articles Featuring SMP:

Physician-Hospital Involvement: Why It's Not Too Late: Q&A with Mike Lipomi of Surgical Management Professionals

Surgical Management Professionals Launches Medical & Pharmacy Cost Reduction Program

10 Statistics for ASCs to Track

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