Over the past several years, the ASC industry has experienced significant changes. Patient responsibility is on the rise as high-deductible health plans continue to gain traction in the insurance market, and payers and employers shift more of the financial burden onto consumers. Patients are taking on a more active role in their healthcare, including conducting research into their options for surgeons and facilities in the hopes of receiving the highest-quality care at the lowest cost.
Furthermore, competition for surgeons is increasing, in part due to the shortage that is projected to grow significantly in the coming years, according to a recent Association of American Medical Colleges report. This is putting surgeons in a stronger position to choose the surgical facility that will best meet their needs and expectations. Qualified staff members (e.g., nurses, surgical technicians) are also in high demand, which is contributing to greater turnover and higher employee-related expenses. Finally, the industry is experiencing a gradual shift away from the traditional fee-for-service payment model toward one where reimbursement is based on value.
With so many challenges and uncertainties, how are ASCs expected to keep up the high level of performance and efficiency required to maintain solvency? Many ASCs have turned to technology for assistance. While these solutions helped deliver some improvements, there were shortcomings. They have now been addressed with the introduction of modern, innovative technology that is delivering significant improvements in ASC clinical, operational, and financial performance.
Here are eight benefits associated with modern ASC software.
1. Comprehensive design
ASCs have long been forced to piecemeal technology implementation to achieve objectives. While such an approach can prove effective, it is not without risks and downsides. If solutions cannot effectively communicate and share information with one another, ASCs may be forced to implement workarounds or perform manual processes to keep information flowing. These additional efforts can decrease staff productivity and increase the likelihood of errors. Furthermore, ASCs are likely to spend more to purchase solutions from multiple vendors and pay for the development of any interfaces that may be required to attempt cross-platform communication.
Today's modern ASC software solution is comprehensive, on a single database, and includes a design and features that cater to all surgery center stakeholders — patients, physicians, anesthesia providers, nurses, and ASC staff. It is also provided by a single vendor, which eliminates the piecemeal challenges noted above while delivering maximum value at a lower total cost.
2. Mobile access
As a 2018 Pew Research Center report notes, "The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%." People are growing more reliant on their smart devices to help in all aspects of their lives, including their professional responsibilities.
A modern ASC software solution provides mobile, secure access to various functions and components that do not require an individual to sit at a workstation at the surgery center. For example, ASC physicians should be able to use their smartphones and other smart devices to view their schedule; view and sign attachments (e.g., labs, EKGs) and case consents; add, edit, sign, and amend their operative notes; and complete medication reconciliation.
3. Patient engagement
Improvements in patient engagement have been linked to improvements in compliance and outcomes; patient, physician and staff satisfaction; and reputation. As healthcare continues to move to value-based models of payment, stronger patient engagement can help increase reimbursement or at least avoid penalties.
Modern ASC software helps strengthen many areas concerning patient engagement, including collecting patient information (e.g., pre-admission questionnaire); reminding patients about appointments, pre-surgical compliance, and payment responsibility; and effectively communicating with patients leading up to and following surgery.
A cloud-based solution provides several features that today's ASCs will likely find quite appealing. First and foremost is the enhanced level of security. Cloud-based technology alleviates some of the stress and responsibility for ensuring technology security and disaster preparedness and response. The subscription service model that typically accompanies a cloud-based solution significantly reduces infrastructure costs and IT support, and software updates happen automatically.
5. Intuitive interface
Software should make it easy for ASCs and their staff members to find the information they are looking for. Modern ASC software features an intuitive user interface that factors in insight and guidance from ASC experts, human factors experts, and users of the technology. It presents information in a way that is easy to find and process, such as grouping information in trackers and using color judiciously to highlight key information, keeping users from having to scan the screen or tab through an electronic chart to find what they need.
Every ASC is different with different workflows. Such workflows are intended to enhance staff productivity and ensure the surgery center accomplishes every step necessary to provide effective, compliant, cost-efficient care and earn the surgery center the reimbursement it deserves.
Modern ASC software is easily configurable by the ASC and its users to support and improve the center's clinical, patient, operational, and financial workflows. Furthermore, it creates a more personal experience that helps maximize productivity and increases staff satisfaction and performance in the process.
7. Robust data
It is often said that, "You can't manage what you don't measure." Modern ASC software provides surgery centers with extensive data and streamlines measuring and benchmarking efforts. This helps ASCs more effectively leverage what they learn from these efforts to implement impactful changes and then monitor changes to ensure they deliver the intended, desired results.
Modern software also simplifies analyzing and sharing data through graphic-focused, easy-to-consume information on dashboards that are kept current. Managers can quickly drill down into specific areas like cost-per-case to correlate various factors, such as supplies used and surgeons performing similar cases, to fuel data-driven discussions.
8. Streamlined implementation and training
ASCs thrive when they operate at a fast-paced, highly efficient level. Time spent waiting is time wasted, and time wasted is money lost.
Modern ASC software is built to keep up with the speed ASCs need to operate at to prosper. This includes the time required for implementation and training. Gone are the days of waiting for up to a year to complete implementation of a platform and educate all staff on how to use a new solution. Modern software is designed to be up and running at full capacity in 10 weeks or fewer, with end-user training only taking hours, not days or weeks.
This means an ASC can start using its new solution and take advantage of the many benefits described here — as well as numerous others — faster. And that translates into better care, reduced costs, enhanced productivity, and improved profitability.
To learn more about SIS Complete, our comprehensive ASC business and clinical management solution, download our brochure at the link below.