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ASCs have opportunities to connect their existing software to enhance their efficiency and reduce cost and errors

Recently, I talked about interoperability and how important it is for ASCs to consider connecting their technology systems. If you missed it, you can read that here.

In this follow-up article, I want to share how ASCs can start thinking about interoperability opportunities at their centers, share some interoperability examples that some of our clients use today, and provide some guidance in case you aren’t quite sure where to start.

Interoperability Provides Clear Benefits for Care Providers

There are many instances throughout an ASC where a simple interface can be a value-add for the ASC. Look across your center and consider which tasks and workflows:

  • Are manual and labor-intensive.
  • Are cost ineffective.
  • Require a high degree of accuracy.
  • Require a user to duplicate work or re-enter data.
  • Could be strengthened to better comply with HIPAA (i.e., processes that reduce the need for patient data or records to be transmitted on paper or email).
  • Require you to work with an outside entity (another care provider’s office, laboratory, financial clearinghouse, etc.).

You may have found that it takes a long time for a case to get scheduled. If your ASC were to set up interfaces between your ASC’s system and your physician’s office system, you might find that:

  • ASC staff spend less time manually reentering patient data and avoid human error from typos.
  • Staff from both offices spend less time calling or emailing each other working out the details of a specific case, leading to cases getting scheduled faster.
    • This may also mean that more cases can be scheduled at your ASC, resulting in cost savings as well as increased revenue.
  • The patient’s insurance card and other preoperative documentation can be sent to the ASC to substantiate the case request. (Depending on the sending vendor’s capabilities.)
  • Patient data is more secure because it is shared directly between two software solutions instead of being emailed or faxed.

On the clinical side, you may have staff who spend much of their time downloading OpNotes from your electronic health record (EHR) and emailing or faxing them back to the surgeon’s office or the referring provider’s office. (If you don’t have an EHR, you’re missing out on some serious opportunities to improve your ASC’s efficiency and provide better service to patients).

With an OpNote interface, your ASC can send OpNotes back to the surgeon’s office or referring provider’s office within the EHR.

  • This saves the ASC time and money from paying a staff member to do this each day (when they can put that staff member’s talents to better use elsewhere in the ASC).
  • It also reduces the risk of human error, such as attaching the wrong OpNote to an email, or sending an OpNote to the wrong email address.
  • Patient data is more secure because it is shared directly between two software solutions instead of being emailed or faxed.

The larger your center’s case volume, the greater your savings will be by automating this process. We have worked with several clients who implemented this type of interface, and by doing so, they greatly reduced the amount of time their teams spent sending OpNotes out each day and had their staff work on more valuable tasks that made better use of their skills.

Easy Opportunities to Leverage Interoperability

The examples above not only demonstrate how interoperability can benefit ASCs – they are also two very common workflows that many surgery centers don’t even realize can be automated. There are even more opportunities throughout the surgery center where technology can help drive efficiency.

Surgery centers are always looking for ways to enhance their revenue cycle processes. If your team spends a lot of time logging into multiple applications to monitor the status of the claims they have submitted, can those portals integrate with your billing software to display claim status directly in the billing software?

Look beyond integration with other software systems and consider the medical devices your surgery center uses. Instead of having a member of your staff manually chart vitals from the vital monitor, you may be able to integrate your vital monitor directly with your EHR. That way, vitals can be captured and added to the patient’s medical record automatically.

Interoperability can enhance your ASC’s efficiency even after a procedure has been performed. When a specimen is collected during surgery and sent to a laboratory for analysis, setting up a connection between your ASC software and the lab’s software can enable the lab to transmit the results electronically back to the ASC for placement directly in the patient record. This also allows the ASC to receive the results immediately rather than waiting for the results to be delivered through the mail or having to manually attach a fax or scan.

Don’t Know Where to Start?

In working with ASCs, I find that they are often hesitant to ask about automation because they don’t know what’s possible. My advice to ASCs: just ask! Come up with a wish list of opportunities to automate workflows across your ASC. Ask your staff what opportunities for automation they see in their departments and share those with your ASC technology vendor. This not only allows us to tell you what interoperability is available in your technology ecosystem, but it also allows us to explore areas where we can develop additional capabilities that can benefit your ASCs.

If your center is considering a new software solution, I recommend bringing up interoperability during the sales process. Discuss with potential vendors what opportunities exist to automate workflows at your ASC.

If your ASC is not moving to or implementing new software, set up a call with your account representative to discuss where you can leverage interoperability to automate workflows with your existing ASC solution.

I often recommend that ASCs submit enhancement requests to their technology vendors to request integration capabilities that support ASC workflows. This helps those vendors better understand what their clients want and, in some cases, can help get these interfaces in place faster.

For instance, it would be beneficial for an ASC to receive patient documentation from the physician’s office; however, most physician’s office solutions can only send patient documentation for all their patients in the system, not just those that have been scheduled at the ASC.

What Are You Waiting For?

The question is not “SHOULD my ASC be looking at where we can set up interoperability between systems?” but rather “WHERE can we set up interoperability between systems?” The advancements in healthcare IT over the last decade have provided numerous opportunities for ASCs to work more efficiently and reduce their operating costs. Spend some time looking across your ASC and consider what opportunities might exist to set up an integration between your existing solutions or solutions outside of your surgery center.

On Apri 25th, we're hosting a webinar where we'll discuss in greater detail the benefits of interoperability, dig into some of the different interoperability possibilities, and learn how to get buy-in from stakeholders. You can register here  - hope to see you there!

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