How a Delaware ASC handled EHR adoption: Big challenges, best practices & lessons learned

Wilmington, Del.-based American Surgery Center's Kemal Erkan, board chairman, spoke to Becker's ASC Review about the importance of EHR adoption in ASCs and how his center approached it.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How has American Surgery Center approached EHR adoption?

Kemal Erkan: As we are utilizing Cerner Powerchart in our medical offices when it comes to the EHR selection for our ASC, Cerner's SurgiNet was a natural choice for us. In this new healthcare era, we have to keep up with all the regulation requirements and compete with big hospital systems while providing the best environment for our surgeons as well as the care our patients deserve.

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care's accreditation requirements are challenging. With accreditation from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, which we accomplished in May, our challenge got even bigger. Without the proper system in place, it is almost next to impossible to achieve the internal levels needed for multi-accreditations.

Q: What are the biggest lessons you've learned through the process of EHR adoption at American Surgery Center?

KE: The most difficult challenges that ASCs face in closing the gap from paper chart to EHR is finding the system that best fits their facility. Most EHR systems are geared toward the hospital setting, which can be intimidating for ASCs. Luckily, we have Cerner who allowed us to mold their software to fit our needs. This helped us close the gap in communication between all levels of healthcare staff and allowed more patient interaction with efficient documentation.

Further, understanding the unique training needs of surgeons and anesthesia specialists and scheduling the additional time needed to address their needs is important to the overall success of the transition to EHR.

Lastly, ensuring a thorough testing of devices and device interfaces is crucial for a smooth adoption process.

Q: What's the most challenging aspect of EHR adoption for ASCs? How can facilities overcome that challenge?

KE: Because of different schedules of nurses and surgeons, I would say training and standardizing certain forms and workflow were the most challenging aspects of it.

Q: What are three best practices for EHR adoption in ASCs?

KE: As always, the No. 1 best practice is "Start with the end in mind." Second, have all of your ducks in a row before you start. Third is timely and appropriate training for every level.

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