Quality Improvement studies can be an effective way to improve the clinical, administrative, and financial operations of your ambulatory surgery center. But when it comes to implementing an effective quality improvement program, many ASCs don’t know where to start. During this interview, Daren discusses the importance of developing and managing an effective quality improvement program.
Q: What does it mean for ASCs to manage a quality program?
Daren Smith: Quality Reporting programs are required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for ASC’s to receive the full annual update to their payment rate. They are also required by AAAHC, AAAASF and The Joint Commission to receive accreditation. This makes it important for surgery centers to have quality data and information gathered for their 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. 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 several years back. It’s a requirement, so I primarily focused on just “getting it done” so my ASC could comply with CMS and the other accreditation bodies. 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.
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 SIS work to help ASC clients with their quality program management?
DS: SIS solutions allow users to easily track and manage individual requirements of a quality program 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 that paperwork to make sure everything was up to date and I had what I needed for the survey.
If I could put that information into a ASC business management 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 SIS is giving ASCs an opportunity to put their data in a reportable format so it’s much easier to search and manage.
SIS understands that ASC administrators are trying to run a lean operation while 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 must — and will continue to — take this into consideration.