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analytics on tabletAmit Jiwani is director of analytics for AmkaiSolutions and Surgical Information Systems. He presented on "Using Analytics for Insights to Accelerate Your ASC's Performance" at the Becker's ASC 23rd Annual Meeting: The Business and Operations of ASCs at the end of October.

Q: Why are more ASCs considering analytics solutions?

Amit Jiwani: I think there are two reasons.

  1. First, technology adoption is catching a tailwind, making more digital data available. As an increasing number of ASCs are implementing EHRs, readily available digital data is becoming ubiquitous in the ASC environment. Then the question becomes: "What do we do with it?"
  2. Second, there are growing pressures on ASCs. Brought on by regulatory, market, and revenue factors, these pressures are making it much more necessary to find ways to cut costs and increase revenue.

With these two factors colliding, ASCs are motivated to find opportunities for improvement in response to these new dynamics.

There is pressure for ASCs to improve cost management in order to maintain a certain margin and remain profitable. People are becoming forced to examine their operations with a different lens, to consider new ways to do things versus sticking with the traditional approaches they have followed. That's where analytics can come in.

Q: What can an analytics solution do for an ASC that it may not be able to do now?

AJ: At first pass, many people think analytics is a way to get more out of their current reporting systems, which are traditionally built on manual data extracts and spreadsheets. People spend a lot of time massaging the data in spreadsheets to make it produce the information they need. An analytics solution can reduce that time significantly.

Initially, that's part of the value proposition for a lot of people, and it is a reason to consider an analytics solution like AmkaiAnalytics. Most ASCs need to run lean and don't have much capacity for wasted time. If an administrator spends a lot of time on a task, such as massaging data, that time is not being spent on something else. That something else may be more crucial to their role in the ASC.

An analytics solution can help free up much of that capacity. That's the low-hanging fruit. What also ends up happening with an analytics solution is it allows you to not have to predict or come up with every question. This is in contrast to using static reports, massaging data and getting the system to answer questions you ask of it. An analytics solution can shine a light on all of the dark corners of reporting — those areas where if you did not know to ask the question, or know you could ask the question, you would not know you could receive an answer.

In short, an analytics solution helps you ask questions better and also ask more advanced questions.

Q: What are some common examples?

AJ: Let's consider low-hanging fruit from a revenue cycle management perspective.

With traditional reports, you may be able to identify the breakdown of your accounts receivable (A/R) amounts across different aging buckets categorized by your different payers (e.g., Medicare, commercial, workers' compensation).

When you drill into that data further using an analytics solution, there may be some other salient patterns that do not present themselves when you look at this data tabulated in a program like Excel. An example: It is not unusual to see a seasonal shift in how some payers or payer categories process claims and sometimes experience a slowdown. An analytics solution can help you initially spot these trends and then also examine ways to change your claims submission process to help capture revenue faster, which affects cash flow.

From a clinical perspective, let's look at quality of care.

Consider the amount of time patients have to wait from when they get through your pre-op process prior to surgery to the time they get wheeled into the OR for the procedure. During that time, the patient is awake and experiencing the wait. For a lot of patients, the wait time creates anxiety. No care is being provided, but they know they will get wheeled into the OR at some point. The longer that time is, the more anxiety the patient will feel. That affects patient satisfaction and the overall surgical experience in terms of what they will remember from their visit.

An analytics solution can help minimize — or even eliminate — that wait time by quantifying it and then helping determine what amount of that time is non-value added versus necessary. When you are able to examine your clinical workflow and identify areas of waste or leakage, you can go further at minimizing them and improving the overall patient experience.

In this example, that may mean not having the patient wait as long, if at all, to get into the OR. It may mean calling patients into the ASC 90 minutes prior to surgery rather than two hours. There are documented studies where a reduction in the patient's wait time prior to surgery has a positive effect on patient satisfaction scores.

Q: Why is AmkaiAnalytics a solution ASCs should consider when they're getting ready to add analytics?

AJ: I think it really points to our industry position and expertise. That's not just in healthcare IT but specifically around perioperative services and performance. Wherever surgeries are performed, AmkaiSolutions and Surgical Information Systems are the experts. We've been the experts for the past 20 years, and have worked to hone those skills and our knowledge of the industry to perfection.

AmkaiAnalytics is flexible in its design. It provides actionable information, which would tell you what is happening, where is it happening, how much and by whom. Consequently, the solution allows our clients to dig deeper to determine why is it happening and what will the impact be if adjustments are made.

We want our clients to be able to do root cause examinations, quantify the results, and then optimize performance based on actionable information. AmkaiAnalytics can take an ASC through that entire continuum, from the basic "what, where and how much" to determine the "why" and evaluate necessary changes and how they would affect the overall operation and my performance.

Finally, AmkaiAnalytics is a native solution rather than a third-party "bolt-on" system. For IT directors and technology stakeholders at an ASC, having a native solution that's core to your EHR rather than a bolt-on creates efficiencies. A native analytics solution will evolve at a much faster pace along with the EHR than a third-party system could. If the EHR's data model changes, everything that feeds into the analytics solution will adjust accordingly. Enhancements in feature functionality to the EHR and associated analytics will be released in sync to ensure there are no inconsistencies. This ultimately improves the value proposition for the ASC leadership and the overall user experience.