How to eliminate preoperative assessment chaos at ASCs

After reading a recent Becker's ASC article, 5 big dysfunctions in ASCs — and how to fix them, I couldn't help but reflect on the number one dysfunction listed within the article, preoperative assessment chaos.

Just one year ago, we too struggled with preoperative assessment chaos. Thanks to advances in technology, our preoperative assessment program is now running smoother than ever. Preop frustrations are gone, unnecessary overtime costs have been eliminated and cancellations resulting from day-of surgery surprises are no longer an issue.

After experiencing such a positive change, I can't help but share our success with others. It is my hope that by sharing Norwalk Surgical Center's experience, other centers can over come preoperative chaos and experience the many benefits we enjoy each day.

Previously Norwalk Surgical Center relied on nursing staff to phone patients in advance of their procedure to gather medical histories. The process was frustrating to say the least as it required numerous attempts by our nursing staff to reach patients who were often unavailable during normal business hours. Staying after-hours to complete preadmission screenings became a normal routine for nurses. In addition to cutting into the personal time of our staff, overtime pay was adding up. Furthermore, because patients were unprepared at the time of the call, histories were often inaccurate or incomplete. As a result, day of surgery surprises were not uncommon which meant cases were either delayed or canceled.

Frustrated with the process and the mounting costs, we decided to bring Norwalk Surgical Center's preadmission process online. The system we selected, One Medical Passport, allows patients the convenience of completing their medical histories online which has resulted in much more complete, accurate information. Most patients complete their histories at the time their surgeries are booked. Now, rather than scrambling to reach patients the evening before a surgery, our nursing staff have medical histories in hand anywhere from 10 business days to as far out as two months prior to a surgery.

Because the questionnaire is very detailed, we are able to pinpoint potential medical issues well in advance of a procedure. As a result, day of surgery cancellations resulting from last minute medical discoveries have been eliminated.

One benefit we hadn't initially considered which has proven to be a huge hit with patients is the ability to access and update medical histories as needed. This is a huge time saver for our repeat patients.

Since bringing our preadmission process online staff are much happier. In addition to eliminating preoperative assessment chaos, we have given them back their lives. Our management team is equally as happy as we have eliminated more than $17,000 in overtime pay over the past year. Additional costs savings have also been achieved by eliminating last minute cancellations and delays.

More articles on surgery centers:
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Healthcare M&A is here to stay—7 thoughts for medical practice owners
Beloit Health System ASC earns long-awaited CON: 4 key points

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