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Recently, Surgical Information Systems’ Director of ASC Solutions, Daren Smith, joined the ASC Podcast with John Goehle to discuss how COVID-19 has affected ASC operations and motivated surgery centers to invest in software solutions that can help them tackle the challenges and opportunities that have surfaced over the last year and a half.

Here are some highlights from that interview:

John So why don’t you just start off by giving an overview of how [COVID] has impacted the technology side.

Daren – Sure. As everybody knows, business has changed in the last year and a half. From the technology side, what we are seeing is that this was the kind of boost some people needed – this was the precipitating event they needed to start looking at how they can operate more efficiently, how they can communicate with physicians, staff members, and patients, and how they can do this from a remote location. So, how can their scheduler efficiently sit at home and schedule cases? As bad as all the lockdowns and COVID restrictions have been, it really forced people to look at their operations and see how technology could solve some of those problems they’re having.

John– I’m always curious as to what other people’s observations are; do you think this is permanent? Do you think that we are going to be seeing people really saying that in the future there are going to be a lot of functions – such as scheduling, billing, and coding – that can be done remotely?

Daren We are seeing that, and we’re seeing a lot more of the hybrid model. They want to keep a hybrid model because they still want to develop a [work] culture and relationships and things like that. But if I only have to go to the office once a week, that appeals to a lot of different people. It actually expands the group of people that I can hire because now I have the ability to go outside of my city, township, or wherever I’m at, and try to find the best talent instead of settling for who can get to the office in 30 minutes.

John – One of the things that’s near and dear to my heart is the whole issue of packages that surgery centers have purchased that are not ASC-specific. How do you think that has changed? Has there been more of an understanding post-pandemic of the importance of moving away from packages that have been designed for the physician’s office as opposed to something that’s been designed specifically for ASCs? And while you’re talking about it, let’s kind of delineate why you need to have a package that’s been designed for an ASC, specifically.

Daren – Yes, we saw it a little bit pre-pandemic, and even three years ago we saw more places trying to take their clinic system and smarten them up or take a hospital system and dumb it down to fit in the parameters of the ASC. We saw that slowly converting, and then the pandemic pushed it even further.

Daren - All those resources that would have been available from a hospital system or from a clinic system to work on creating more ASC-specific things got allocated to other places. So now, the clinic is focused on telemedicine – they’ve shifted all their resources from creating more ASC technology over to telemedicine technology. The same thing on the hospital side is “how can we manage more ICUs and things like that instead of creating more ASC-specific content?”, so that has boosted the need for the ASC content as well, or the ASC-specific software.

Daren - We are still telling the same story we were five years ago: we have a very unique way of billing that is different from hospitals and different from clinics, and you need a system that understands that. We have state reporting; we’re looking at things completely differently than any other division of health care, so [by using non-ASC-specific software] you’re always going to be trying to force that round peg in a square hole.

This is just a small excerpt from a much larger conversation. To hear the segment in its entirety, visit the ASC Podcast with John Goehle homepage and listen for free.