4 tips for introducing new technology to your ASC's board

The process for introducing new technology to a board can be difficult, especially for centers that have a large, mixed board like The Reading Hospital SurgiCenter. Our board is 50 percent hospital owned, 50 percent physician owned.

Because board members are far removed from the day-to-day processes required to run a busy center, convincing them a change is needed can be difficult, especially when that change involves spending money. This is a scenario I'm sure most administrators have experienced. Fed up with the costs and hassles associated with manually phoning patients in advance of their procedure to gather medical histories, we recently achieved board approval to purchase new technology to bring our pre-admission process online. As a result, we were able to greatly streamline the pre-admission process and save more than $44,000 a year in per diem costs alone. By sharing our success it is my hope to help others achieve board approval for technology that really makes a difference and generates cost savings to prove it.

Get the vendor involved. Have the vendor present their product to the board. The vendor knows their product best; therefore, they can do a better job than anyone explaining key benefits, what to expect and answering questions.

Demonstrate cost savings. When detailing anticipated cost savings, be sure to include true costs as well as some of the soft savings you expect to achieve. For example, by deploying the online pre-admission solution One Medical Passport we anticipated being able to save $44,000 a year by decreasing the number of staff necessary to complete pre-admission screenings and redeploying them into direct patient care areas thus eliminating the need for additional Per Diem staff. Additional soft costs were anticipated by eliminating paper copies of the numerous regulatory documents ASCs are required to distribute to their patients such as information on Advance Directives, Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and Facility Ownership information. Because all of these document are in the One Medical Passport system, patients simply check that they read the information; no paper documentation is required. Our board held us to these numbers, and the product delivered.

Create a really good timeline. Assign roles and responsibilities and hold people accountable. There are a lot of things you have to do upfront before implementing any new technology. Establish a committee, this should include representatives from each area within your center, to drive the implementation. Regular meetings should be held with committee members and reported back to the board to show that the team is on target and the implementation is going as planned.

Anticipate concerns. Consider any possible concerns your board may have in advance and anticipate how to address them. For example, our center has a large geriatric and Spanish speaking population, we knew there would be concern over whether or not they would not adopt the technology. After speaking with the One Medical Passport team we quickly learned the system is available in both English and Spanish and that there is a high compliance rate among geriatric patients. For those unable or unwilling to complete Passports on their own, a plan was set up in advance to assist them. As a result, initial concerns pertaining to our geriatric and Spanish speaking population ended up being a non-issue.

When appropriate, involve physician offices. Understand the role physicians' offices will play in the success of your technology and educate them as appropriate. When utilizing a technology like an online pre-admission solution, support from physician offices is essential to ensure compliance. In such instances, schedule appointments with each physician office; conduct a breakfast or lunch to get them interested. Articulating how the technology will help their patients (and them) is essential. Because turnover is not uncommon among physician office staff, regular update meetings will help ensure new staff are made aware of the technology; this also serves as a good refresher for existing staff. For centers that do a good job, be sure to brag about staff by updating physician owners while rewarding office staff with a donut day surprise.

With preparation and thoughtful due diligence, the implementation of new technology can be a pleasant and rewarding experience for all. It is a great feeling when everything that looks so good on paper actually happens. Since deploying One Medical Passport, our nurses are spending more time focusing on patients and less time playing phone tag; both our nurses and patients are happier. Anesthesiologists also are happier because they now have a uniform and complete history. Patient satisfaction is also up as there are no more lengthy and often inconvenient phone calls. Repeat patients can sign into the system to review and update their histories as needed rather than having to complete a new form each time they are scheduled for a procedure.

Most importantly, our board is happy. Anticipated cost savings were achieved (and exceeded). Processes are much smoother. No late starts, no last minute cancellations means happier staff and happier patients. By following these four easy steps, you'll have your board on board in no time!

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