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Q&A with Daren Smith

ASC managementDaren Smith, RN, BSN, is a clinical solution specialist for AmkaiSolutions and Surgical Information Systems. He will be presenting on "Managing Your Quality Program" at the Alabama Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers (AAASC) Fall Meeting. His presentation is scheduled for 1:00-1:45 p.m. on October 5.

Q: What does it mean for ASCs to manage a quality program?

Daren Smith: ASCs are required by all accreditation partners (e.g., AAAHC, AAAASF, The Joint Commission) and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to have a quality program. It's important for surgery centers to have the data and information gathered for their quality program available in an organized format. This helps ensure the program serves its purpose, which is to allow ASCs to monitor their activity to identify trends, risks, and opportunities for improvement in certain areas.

Part of my presentation in Alabama will examine a few of these areas and discuss how to organize the associated data so it is meaningful to ASCs. Effective organization puts the information in a format that's easier for surgery centers to understand and analyze.

Q: Why do ASCs need to make development and management of a quality program more of a priority?

DS: It's an aspect of an ASC's operation that's easy to undervalue, as I did when I was an ASC administrator a number of years back. It's a requirement, so I primarily focused on just "getting it done" so my ASC could be in compliance. But by doing such, I potentially missed out on opportunities to identify areas for improvement.

Developing and managing a quality program is more a matter of choosing appropriate indicators to examine and monitor so you are spending time not only meeting requirements, but looking at actual issues in possible need of improvement. It's one thing to have a quality program; it's another thing to have a quality program that helps you improve efficiency and clinical outcomes while reducing risk.

At the AAASC Fall Meeting, I will be discussing how to put this information into a format that is usable, researchable, and reportable so it can give an ASC the information it needs to make those improvements.

The accreditation agencies and CMS are looking more closely to see that ASCs are not just performing the exercise but that actions taken as a result are meaningful. You don't want to treat your quality program requirements like you may when you conduct mock fire drills. That's something ASCs typically check off their to-do list. You want your quality program to be meaningful, allowing you to identify risks, see trends, and react to them, and not just checking off the box.

Q: How does Amkai work to help ASC clients with their quality program management?

DS: Part of my presentation will look at some of the individual requirements of a quality program and talk about how to manage those electronically. For example, one such requirement of a quality program is employee credentialing. That includes keeping employee files and making sure they are up to date, performing employee health evaluations, and confirming receipt of flu shots.

When I was an administrator, I performed these tasks on paper. I had very large files with tremendous amounts of paperwork stuffed in them. Before our accreditor showed up to perform a survey, I would take out and review all of that paperwork to make sure everything was up to date and I had what I needed for the survey.

If I was able to put that information into a system like AmkaiOffice business and administrative software, verifying these details would be as simple as running a report. For example, I could quickly determine whose license would expire in the next six months. What we're doing at Amkai is giving ASCs an opportunity to put their data in a reportable format so it's much easier to search and manage.

Amkai understands that ASC administrators are trying to running a lean operation while usually wearing many hats. We strive to create processes within our system to manage a quality program with the least amount of time and effort involved.

We want to be the one-stop shop for all of this work. If we're going to continue to strive to provide a full solution for our clients, we have to — and will continue to — take this into consideration.

To arrange a meeting with Daren at the AAASC Fall Meeting, email dsmith@sisfirst.com.