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Exploring the benefits of systems sharing information, also known as Interoperability

For surgery centers that use several different technology solutions, the ability to connect solutions can help drive efficiency throughout the ASC and capitalize on software investments. Understandably, you may not know what sort of opportunities exist among your current solutions, yet the benefits of leveraging interoperability are worth exploring.

I recently attended the HIMSS 2024 Conference and was inspired by all the new and exciting technology that ASCs will be able to leverage over the coming years. However, I found myself wondering if ASCs are aware of the opportunities to enhance efficiency by connecting the technology they already have within their ASCs. To that end, I wanted to help ASCs explore what interoperability is and why they should consider investing in it.

What Is Interoperability?

Interoperability is the two-way connection that allows data to be exchanged between two software systems. Data in one system, let’s say a physician’s office system, can be shared for use within a system at the ASC such as your ASC management software.

For example, the surgeon’s office and the ASC typically use two different solutions, and a secure connection can be set up so that the surgeon’s office can share patient demographics, insurance, and even the case request directly to the ASC software, which greatly reduces the time it takes to schedule a case and helps ensure accuracy.

The term “interoperability” is often used alongside the term “integration,” but there are differences between these two. Integration is less direct than interoperability and requires a third-party software to act as the “messenger” between two systems. My colleague Bobby Roberts explored the difference between interoperability and integration in this blog post.

The Case for Interoperability

Now that you are thinking about all the possibilities, let’s talk about making a case for getting your systems talking. Whether your ASC is a stand-alone facility or part of a larger group, it stands to benefit from interoperability, but sometimes, it can be difficult for key stakeholders to see why setting up a connection may be worth the time and money.

The biggest potential savings are always cost savings. In helping others see the need for interoperability between your existing solutions, consider things like:

  • How many cases your centers perform a day.
  • How many minutes staff spends performing tasks that could be automated (either inside or outside of the operating room).
  • Their accuracy in performing those tasks.
    • How many times a day do they have to come back and fix an error?
    • How often does human error cause delays or issues with your revenue cycle?
  • The cost to pay your staff.

This is a good opportunity to involve your ASC software vendor. Help them understand the full picture of your technology suite and where connecting your ASC software with other software you use at your center, or the systems used by your physician’s office or lab, could be beneficial.

If you have multiple ASCs, you likely have opportunities within your broader technology ecosystem to connect your existing solutions that may benefit most if not all your ASCs. The stronger the case you can build regarding cost savings, the better chance you have of getting buy-in from key stakeholders.

The Benefits of Interoperability in an Increasingly Complex Environment

The biggest benefit of interoperability is helping to save time and money by automating manual processes. Automation can lead to reductions in human error and the ability to deliver improved service to a center’s healthcare partners and patients.

This need for optimization becomes even more important as we look forward to a healthcare system that is only getting more complex. With industry dynamics such as value-based care and consolidation, interoperability will play a valuable role in allowing care providers to meet these new demands. ASCs are just one piece in the healthcare puzzle – they need to be able to share patient medical data with referring providers, hospitals and health systems, labs, and other organizations.

By becoming familiar with interoperability and looking for ways to optimize your existing investments, with an eye toward the future, you can help position your ASC for ongoing success. Plus, your staff, physicians, and patients may all be happier working and interacting with your center.

In an upcoming article, I’ll explore specific software connections that are easy for ASCs to implement.

If you’d like to learn more about Interoperability with your ASC software, please contact us.