With a growing 23 million surgical cases performed annually,1 ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are an increasingly popular, convenient, and lower-cost choice among patients.
Compared to inpatient services, these outpatient facilities have specialized resources to deliver quicker and safer same-day procedures. Patients have their procedure performed in a full-functioning OR, recover and return home within hours. ASCs are ideal for those in need of procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay, such as endoscopies.
As case volume in ASCs continue to rise and reimbursements decline, these facilities have an increased need for process improvements that help enhance workflows and maximize revenue. Pre- and post-procedure patient outreach is an opportunity area for surgery centers to achieve greater operational efficiency.
“As ambulatory surgery centers gain popularity, competition and patient volume rise. Finding cost-effective ways to streamline processes and not overburden staff members is a critical aspect of remaining competitive and a top-rated facility for patients,” said Jeffrey Singerman, Director of Operations at Manhattan Endoscopy Center.
Preoperative patient outreach reaffirms patient understanding of procedural requirements, such as dietary restrictions or financial expectations. ASCs can identify barriers to successful surgical preparation earlier and address questions prior to arrival. Postoperative outreach to patients provides education around symptom management and confirms recovery status to help avoid adverse events such as infections. These patient touch points require careful documentation and consistent staff efforts to complete, especially to support routine audits of internal processes.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN salary in 2016 was $32.66 and in New York was $37.96. Considering the cost of this highly-skilled resource, for ambulatory surgery centers, finding ways to maximize staff time is critical.
“Reaching out to patients before and after their scheduled visit is a critical and often inconsistent part of day-to-day operations. This can require a lot of man-hours that would be better utilized elsewhere. For this reason, we sought out technology that could help us allocate resources more wisely and also provide even greater value with advanced reporting and seamless documentation,” stated Singerman.
In less than a year, Manhattan Endoscopy Center achieved approximately $150,000 in labor savings by switching from manual to automated outreach using CipherHealth’s Voice technology. The center tailored automated calls and alerting workflows to support initial pre- and post-op outreach to patients, along with triage to RNs for follow-up with patients needing assistance. This is especially helpful for confirming appointments to better manage OR schedules and also clearing invalid phone numbers with surgeon’s offices. Additionally, increased communication reminds patients of important information at various points to keep them engaged in their care.
“My staff love the program. With various calls to patients and physician offices throughout the day, our nurses went from spending hours manually attempting to call hundreds of patients to only calling those that truly need assistance, as identified proactively in Voice calls. This has helped us to achieve a higher level of clinical and staff efficiency.”
Ambulatory Surgery Centers continue to rise in popularity as they are a lower cost alternative to hospital-based procedures. According to a 2015 study, 70% of surgeries start within seven minutes of the scheduled start time, and nearly 70% of ASCs have 20 or fewer employees. These statistics indicate the importance of maximizing staff time and workflows. Efficiency is critical to this industry, as keeping surgeries on time and resources lean keep surgical care accessible and convenient without sacrificing safe, high-quality care. Identifying opportunities to improve processes and leverage more robust reporting help ASCs to thrive in a growing market with increasing competition for patient volume.
“As healthcare cost continues to rise in the form of premiums and higher deductibles, patients will continue to gravitate towards less expensive options, such as ambulatory surgery centers,” said Shawn Lemerise, Vice President and Managing Partner at CipherHealth. “As demand increases, ASCs should look to technology to help them remain efficient.”
To learn more about how ASCs such as Manhattan Endoscopy are driving efficiency through the use of technology, click here.
1Ambulatory Surgery Center Association. Available at http://www.ascassociation.org/AdvancingSurgicalCare/whatisanasc/historyofascs