5 must-haves for patient, physician engagement in ASCs

To enhance patient and provider engagement, ASCs must have the right tools and strategies in place.

This was the key takeaway from a session sponsored by Surgical Information Systems and held during Part II of Becker's ASC Virtual Event – The Business And Operations of ASCs, held Oct. 14-16. The session featured insights from three speakers:

  • Deborah Otenbaker, executive director of Michigan Institute for Advanced Surgery Center in Lake Orion
  • Cami Myers, director of Arkansas Specialty Surgery Center in Little Rock
  • Daren Smith, director of ASC solutions at Surgical Information Systems

Five must-have tools and strategies for physician and patient engagement at ASCs:

1. SIS Link™. Implemented across the board in Michigan Institute's physician offices, SIS Link enables surgery center schedulers to communicate effectively with physician office schedulers.

"We have a lot of control over what the office has to provide us for us to accept a case," Ms. Otenbaker said. "[The solution] is by no means utilized solely without [direct] communication with those scheduling offices … but the scheduler on both ends can see what patients they have on and get us all the information that we need."

2. Portal-based preoperative assessments. Once a case is scheduled, Michigan Institute and Arkansas Specialty both ask patients to complete preoperative assessments through an online portal. Accessible via mobile or desktop devices, the user-friendly technology enables physicians to proactively verify clearances and safety, while saving time for nurses and streamlining the patient experience.

"[The preadmission questionnaire] doesn't take away 100 percent of the phone calls and the actual one-on-one communication with patients," Ms. Otenbaker said, "but it definitely minimizes some of the workload and definitely saves manpower. We've all been there on the phone with somebody for a half an hour going through their medication list."

3. Physician office buy-in. ASCs can get more patients to fully complete preoperative assessments by coordinating communication with the referring physician's office, according to Mr. Smith.

"[If] part of the brochure that the patient receives says, 'Hey, you're having surgery at the surgery center. Within the next couple of days, you can expect an email or a text message to invite you out to the patient portal. This is the best way to communicate with the surgery center and will take the least amount of time overall' — if you can get some of that prompting from the physician's office, you'll see those [completion] numbers work out quite well," he said.

4. Patient tracking. Internally, SIS' electronic patient tracking boards give ASCs improved visibility into patient flow and whether things are running according to schedule. At Arkansas Specialty, they also give patients' families a way to follow the patient's journey through surgery without personally asking staff for updates.

"The family members that are sitting in the waiting room, instead of walking up to the desk, [then] the desk calling the operating room [or] preop, they can sit there and watch," Ms. Myers said. "It's been extremely helpful in the center from the patient's family member to the staff."

5. A time-saving medication interface. Surescripts® is a health information exchange that supports the electronic transmission of prescriptions between healthcare organizations and pharmacies. By using the Surescripts interface in the SIS Complete™ program, ASC nurses can reconcile any medication information provided by patients with information in the existing database. This functionality helps staff catch any information gaps early in the process, which "saves the nurses a tremendous amount of time on the day of surgery," Ms. Myers said. "It's probably been our nurses' favorite thing [about SIS Complete]."

Click here to access a recording of the session: "Real-Time Communications With Your Patients & Physicians? The Next Must-Have For Today's ASCs."

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