How Hybrid EMRs Can Save ASCs Time, Money

At the 11th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference on June 13, Robert Brownd, director of business development for Surgical Notes, delved into how ASCs can use appropriate electronic medical records to their advantage.

In a session titled “The Evolution of EMR: What Works for ASCs Today and How You Can Realize an ROI,” Mr. Brownd discussed how EMRs can be selected to meet the needs and demands of a surgery center, as well as what Meaningful Use requirements ASCs are expected to meet.

Typically, to obtain electronic records ASCs can choose between scanning in paper files, using a table EMR or using a hybrid EMR. While all options have benefits and drawbacks, Mr. Brownd recommended hybrid EMRs as a flexible option that also brings a high return on investment.

Hybrid EMRs will prepare charts and imaging for on-demand retrieval with the goal of shredding the chart and becoming paperless. Hybrids are not disruptive to care turnover, complementary to multispecialty centers and flexible for physician preference. They also interface with core software and require a lower capital investment, Mr. Brownd said.

“Full EMRs can get too complicated for ASCs,” he said. “With so many different forms in ASCs, the variety can be very difficult to turn into true Web pages and keep them on the same, normal workflow. However, something that automates the chart prep and tailors it toward multispecialty prep can work.”

Tablet-based EMRs can also be problematic for surgery centers because of how quickly the technology is evolving and because the systems are often not scaleable across multiple centers. Multispecialty centers will always have some paper to work with, and tablets cannot eradicate that need.

Some of Mr. Brownd’s keys to a successful hybrid EMR implementation include:

•    Gain buy-in from business owners
•    Create and implementation committee
•    Develop “super users” for each department
•    Manage expectations with staff members
•    Have a strong project plan
•    Plan for a follow-up training visit

Cost savings from the hybrid EMR will largely be realized through reduced sticky label and chart purchasing, preprinted forms and fewer chart retrieval and storage costs. Centers should look for a 2-year payback and an annual total savings of $20,000 to $30,000, Mr. Brownd said.

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