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ASC Survival Depends on Implementation of an EHR

December 12, 2012

ASCs ChallengesToday ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are under pressure because of economy conditions and ever changing healthcare environment. Lower reimbursement by insurance companies and greater scrutiny by regulatory bodies are few of the many threats facing their business.

To overcome these challenges ASCs are trying to identify ways to continue provide high quality of care while compliance with CMS requirements and managing their operational costs. One of the most popular ways to do so is to adopt and implement Electronic Health Record (EHR) in their daily processes. There are many other reasons why EHR is a natural progression for ASCs.

1. Ensure Compliance.  The increased documentation opportunities that EHRs offer means that medical records are more complete.  They contain necessary information tailored to each ASC’s needs.  Templates can be designed to accurately document each type of patient encounter or procedure in order to ensure that required information is included for accurate billing and coding.  Third-party payers, including government healthcare programs and commercial insurers, require the medical record document pertinent information to prove medical necessity for performed procedures.  
2. Enhances Operation Room Efficiency.  Ever have to wait in mid-procedure for lab results or a radiology report before proceeding with an important procedure.  EHR brings logically arranged medical history and consultation reports to the operating suite.  Entries can be made as events occur in the OR, making documentation a real time record of medically necessary services.
3. Improves Patient Safety.  Instant access to pertinent information is essential for providing quality patient care.  With EHR, medical records are available at the press of a button, anywhere in the clinic, in the office, or on mobile devices.  No need to ruffle through papers to find the right lab report when the results are only a mouse click away.
4. Increase Physician and Staff Satisfaction.  Documentation is the most burdensome part of delivering effective health care.  EHRs allow for templated records and pre-written entries that can be tailored to each individual case.  Documentation time is reduced so that physicians can do what they are trained to do: treat patients.
5. Boost Profitability.  Back office operations depend on access to medical records to ensure correct coding.  Most coding and billing is done electronically.  Seamlessly integrate the flow of information from the surgical suite to the third-party payer.  Reduce the time between when a record and completed and bills can be submitted. 

6. Reduce Costs.  Paper records take up valuable floor space.  They are inefficient and often misfiled.  How many times has a physician had to examine a patient without the paper record at hand?  Eliminate the costs of supplies and storage space with an effective and efficient EHR system.

 7. Easy to work with. Given a choice between paper records and EHR, nobody like paper records since it can be a challenge searching old paper records for audit and other compliance purposes and at the same time administratively putting together complete paper work is always hard for support staff.

8. Clinical Reporting and Quality Outcome Requirements.  By design, an EHR is more thorough than a handwritten SOAP note.  The format of a SOAP note is not abandoned, but an effectively useful EHR prompts providers to document to the highest degree of specificity.  Beginning in 2014, ASCs that participate in the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) program will qualify for full annual update of their annual ASC payment rate.  Accurate documentation will allow an ASC to take full advantage of the ASCQR program.

9. Increase Patient Satisfaction.  Patient care improves when information is readily available to the health care team.  Nurses, doctors, and ancillary staff can all review a patient’s EHR at the same time from different locations.  When a patient has a question for a medical assistant, she doesn’t have to say she will have to check the paper record once the doctor has finished with it.  She can check the EHR to answer the patient’s question promptly.  With a stack of paper records on his or her desk, who knows when this patient’s record would make its way to the to-be-filed box and then to the shelf.

10.  Mitigate Risk.  In the event of a RAC audit or any question regarding questionable billing practices, a complete and integrated EHR is the best defense against charges of fraudulent intent.  EHR eliminates the chance of lost or misplaced required supporting documentation.  If records are requested, they can be quickly retrieved, copied and submitted to justify reasonable and necessary claims for reimbursement.

Write to us if you have any other suggestion why ASCs need EHR today.

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