Finding technology that drives efficiency & profit: 6 steps to successful ASC health IT acquisition

A decade ago you could count the number of ambulatory surgery center-specific technology solutions on one hand, but today those numbers have skyrocketed into the double digits.

During a Dec. 4 webinar hosted by Becker's ASC Review, Chuck Meisel, vice president of sales with Surgical Notes, defined six steps for ASC leaders to take when looking for a technology solution that supports operational and financial improvement at their centers.

1. Discovery. The first step before any major purchase is exploring all of your options. ASC technologies, to name a few, include:

•    Document management systems
•    EMRs
•    EHRs
•    Central billing software
•    Revenue cycle management software
•    Online pre-authorization systems
•    Satisfaction survey options
•    Quality reporting systems
•    Inventory control software

"Track news, attend webinars and trade shows, keep on vendor health and discover new players and products," said Mr. Meisel. Explore what the industry has to offer and consider what processes need the most improvement, whether it be better business analytics or reducing labor costs.

2. Investigation. Once ASC leaders have narrowed their focus, the next step in the process is to research specific options. Consider what technology other ASCs are using. Request vendor demonstrations and presentations. "The solution you choose must have a positive financial impact and that impact should occur within the relatively short 12 month to 24 month period," said Mr. Meisel. Seek products that are likely to provide that kind of performance.

3. Comparison. Gather all of the information gleaned from the investigation process and weigh the potential benefits and pitfalls of each product. "Read case studies, evaluate potential return on investment, validate ROI and speak with other customers," said Mr. Meisel. "The biggest question you want answered from other ASC leaders: Would you buy it again?"

4. Justification. Partner buy-in is an essential element of selecting the correct technology and ensuring it works in practice, as well as in theory. "You need to convince your physician owners, management company and yourself that you've made the right business decision," he said. Provide the data used during the comparison process and build a compelling argument for the solution that best fits your center.

5. Implementation. Implementation is a critical step, one that will make clear whether or not the chosen technology will deliver what was promised. Important questions to ask about implementation include, according to Mr. Meisel:

•    How long will it impact an ASC's daily operations?
•    Is the ASC staff prepared for the new technology?
•    Who is the go-to in-house staff member for questions about the solution?
•    Are physicians up-to-speed on the new technology?

6. Optimization. Optimization never ends. All technology solutions will be subject to updates and upgrades. There will be staff turnover and new team members will need to be trained. "Conduct a post-implementation assessment and ensure you are getting the most out of your investment," said Mr. Meisel. Consistently evaluate continued vendor support and whether or not annual maintenance fees are worth it. "You can't improve what you don't measure."

Download the webinar presentation here. View the webinar by clicking here. We suggest you download the video to your computer before viewing to ensure better quality. If you have problems viewing the video, which is in Windows Media Video format, you can use a program like VLC media player, free for download here.

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