How Knowledgeable ASCs are Affecting the EMR Market

Ambulatory surgery center leaders are quickly becoming more educated and conscientious consumers when it comes to electronic medical records, says Craig Veach, senior vice president of corporate relations at software solutions vendor AmkaiSolutions, maker of the ASC EMR AmkaiCharts.

"There has been a significant amount of distraction by companies that tout 'EMR' systems when, in reality, these are merely scanning solutions to archive paper records. These systems, referred to as an ‘EMR under glass', are simply forms on a computer without actual data, patient safety alerts or the ability to analyze and improve outcomes," says Mr. Veach.

ASC leaders are increasingly focused on acquiring systems which will help the organization reap all the promised benefits of digitized records, whether that means purchasing a first EMR or switching from another system.

Those ASCs moving to an EMR from paper-based records recognize the shift to electronic records in the ambulatory setting, like in the hospital setting, is inevitable. "The majority of today's ASC management no longer has an 'if we should switch to an EMR' mentality; rather, it is now a 'when we should switch' perspective," says Mr. Veach.

Knowing the move is imminent, these organizations are looking for EMR systems with discrete data abilities, allowing for the creation of structured data that can easily be aggregated, analyzed and, most importantly, exported and shared. Mr. Veach credits AmkaiCharts' strong market share to the system's data collection processes. "It's all discrete data, which means if someone outside the system needs the data, it can efficiently be sent," he says.

Structured, transferable data is also required for meaningful use attestation. While there is currently no federal financial reward associated with switching to an EMR and only Minnesota has required ASCs to use an EMR (by 2015), investing in an EMR that is meaningful use-certified is increasingly seen as desirable. It is more likely that such a system will be able to easily meet criteria eventually mandated for ASCs by the ONC, he says.

Additionally, more and more of AmkaiSolutions' EMR customers are not first-time purchasers. "Over the past 18 months, we have begun to convert centers from EMR systems that are poorly designed, not designed for the unique requirements of ASCs or are provided by vendors that do not take care of their ASC partners through dedicated customer service and regular updates that address new needs and requirements," says Mr. Veach. The move to more advanced systems shows that ASCs realize what an integral part of their business EMRs are becoming, and they are willing to forfeit sunk costs in the form of an underperforming system for an EMR that is up to the challenges of the modern healthcare landscape.

In the coming years, Mr. Veach predicts the ASC EMR market will become increasingly saturated as ASCs struggle to meet efficiency demands. Regulatory and reporting demands will also hasten adoption or upgrades, as gathering the growing amount of information required by CMS becomes too difficult when using paper-based systems or 'under glass' EMRs. "Outcome reporting now falls in the range of 'Did you administer a prophylactic antibiotic X minutes before the incision?' Can you imagine collecting that kind of information by hand?" he says.

AmkaiSolutions currently has more than 500 of its systems operational, including multiple systems run by single clients. Mr. Veach credits this success to AmkaiSolutions providing the solutions and features ASCs are looking for so as to get the most out of their EMRs, and he predicts future success for the company as it continues to adapt to customers' changing needs.

"We canvas our partners for input through our client development councils," he says. "We have asked our partners to work with our development teams to provide input on their functional needs, workflow improvements and unique ideas to help us get the best solutions possible."

More Articles on ASC EMRs:


EMRs – How to Improve Productivity & Profits for Physicians & ASCs
How Hybrid EMRs Can Save ASCs Time, Money
Opinion: EMRs Should Focus on Billing, Leave Patient Care Measures to Physicians

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