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Enhance ASC workflows, automate processes, reduce human error, and support better service to patients and providers by embracing EHR interoperability.

As ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) continue to expand their use of information technology (IT), it would be beneficial — and will eventually be necessary — to consider interoperability. This concept is taking on greater importance for maximizing the value of ASC IT usage and investments, especially while surgery centers navigate staff shortages and rising costs and work to grow their case volumes.

When implemented effectively, interoperability — or integration between technology solutions — can provide ASCs with the ability for their IT systems to share information securely and without requiring extra manual work. The benefits of interoperability are substantial. When ASC systems are interoperable, they can automatically share information, interpret incoming data, and present the data as it was received, preserving its original context.

There are many scenarios where interoperability can improve operational and clinical productivity by simply automating manual processes and repetitive steps, from scheduling to case costing. To gain a better understanding of how interoperability benefits ASCs, let us look at a few high-level examples of areas of an ASC's operations enhanced by the functionality.


Data Movement

Most patients are referred to an ASC via another provider. In these cases, the providers are the “system of truth” and should already have essential patient information (e.g., demographics) to be shared with the center. Instead of managing back-and-forth phone calls, faxes, and emails between the ASC and referring practice, effective integration can automate data movement between entities, helping ensure patient data is current and remains in sync ahead of surgery. If any of this data is updated by the referring provider, the changes will be reflected in the ASC's system.

In addition, as patients transition between care settings, ASCs can more easily share data between referring providers, hospitals and health systems, physical therapists, laboratories, and other organizations.



With interoperability, scheduling between the ASC and the referring surgeon’s office becomes simpler and more efficient. The referring provider’s office can electronically submit or request an appointment and attach corresponding procedure information in addition to patient demographics. This helps eliminate substantial data entry and saves staff time previously spent on phone calls and faxes while reducing the risk of manual data entry errors.

If the ASC’s current software includes a scheduling module, physicians can view their upcoming surgery schedule, and any changes made to the schedule are automatically reflected in near real-time. This dramatically reduces the need for staff to step away from their tasks to physically track down the surgery team to provide updates and helps ensure everyone is kept current.


Patient Experience

There are many areas of the patient experience enhanced by interoperability. One of the most noticeable is patient communication.

Ahead of the case, ASCs can use interoperability to automate the sending of text message reminders and patient estimates, helping to reduce same-day cancellations and better prepare patients for their procedural and financial responsibilities. If the facility is utilizing software that includes patient portals and pre-operative questionnaires, the patient can provide the requested demographics, health history, medications, and other required information, and this information will be delivered directly to the nurses in near real-time for review. In this scenario, interoperability improves patient experience and clinical productivity.

Following a case, interoperability can help an ASC automate the electronic distribution of discharge instructions to a patient and/or designated caregiver. To assist in patient education, noteworthy images captured during the case can automatically be added to the patient’s chart and included in the discharge instructions and/or procedure summary.


Regulatory Compliance

States such as New York and Connecticut are beginning to require ASC participation in health information exchanges (HIEs). While certain states previously delayed HIE requirements for ASCs, participation will likely be enforced down the road. In these instances, sending data such as a patient’s continuity of care document is critical to ensure compliance with a state’s mandate.

As ASCs and others adopt interoperability standards, HIEs and other organizations can more easily aggregate data, benchmark, analyze trends, and conduct additional research that helps providers and adjacent industries, like the pharmaceutical and imaging industries, identify opportunities for improving clinical outcomes, increasing efficiencies, eliminating redundancies, and decreasing costs.

Additionally, the ability of an ASC to securely automate patient data sharing can help reduce the likelihood of HIPAA violations, such as reaching out to the wrong patient or sending personal information to an incorrect address.


Inventory & Case Costing

Aside from labor, materials are generally the highest expense for an ASC. Interoperability can help ensure the exact costs for items used during a case are captured, contributing to more accurate case costing.

Managing accurate inventory levels is vital to right-sizing inventory levels. Improved integration around inventory management can lead to more effective tracking of supply usage and availability, reducing the likelihood of running out of an item needed for future cases. If an ASC's current software supports established par levels, as inventory levels drop below par, purchase orders can be autogenerated for review and release.

Over time, tracked inventory levels can be compared to caseloads across the same periods to help improve business management and identify areas of waste and areas for improvement.


The Future of ASC Interoperability

There’s no question about it: Interoperability is the future of health IT. As healthcare system consolidation continues, interoperability will become increasingly critical. Even when we look at the continued challenges of staffing shortages and rising costs, interoperability plays a vital role in handling these obstacles by reducing and often eliminating redundant and time-consuming tasks through automation.

With technology that can help support better service to patients and providers, expedite processes, automate workflows, reduce human errors, aggregate data, and produce a wide range of productivity and financial benefits, ASCs that seek out and embrace interoperability will likely achieve significant improvements in productivity and value.


Unleashing the Power of Interoperability in Your ASC

To learn more about how interoperability can help your ASC maximize efficiencies, increase safeguards against potential human error, capitalize on IT investments, and streamline workflows, join us for Unleashing the Power of Interoperability in Your ASC on June 28 at 3:00 ET. This webinar has been approved for 1.0 hours of AEU Credit in the Delivery of Patient Care area by BASC Provider #1125.