Vice President of Clinical Strategies
Electronic health records (EHRs) are finally making themselves a must-have in the Ambulatory Surgery setting. However, convincing some physician owners of the value of this change is not always a walk in the park. We often encounter scenarios where clinical staff, business office managers, and other stakeholders are ready to switch from paper to electronic charting, but their owners are saying no. This information may help change their outlook.
Here’s a very high-level, step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Gain a full-picture view of your physician owner’s concerns.
Understanding where they’re coming from is going to be essential. What are their main concerns? More times than not, it comes down to cost, but are there other reasons? Take detailed notes to help you stay organized and focused.
Step 2: Gauge internal interest.
Discuss with your clinical team and others who would be using an EHR day in and day out. Are they on board as well? What concerns do they have? Do any of them have EHR experience?
Step 3: Engage trusted EHR vendors to help you.
The ASC industry has several different EHR options. They all vary slightly in terms of features and functionality, but what shouldn’t vary is their willingness to help you present your case to your physician owners.
Step 4: Do your research and prepare a presentation.
Now that you have a bulleted list of what’s holding them back, it’s time to create a clear and concise presentation addressing every concern. Speak their language and stay focused on everyone’s end goal – improving the bottom line, workflow efficiencies, and patient care.
Here are a few talking points to help you succeed.
Paper charts are severely limiting patient care.
- The handwriting is often illegible.
- It cannot be electronically shared or stored.
- It is not structured data that is computable and shareable with other computers and systems.
- Paper is expensive to copy, transport, and store, easy to destroy, challenging to analyze and determine who has seen it, and harms the environment.
How does this play in the often short-term care environment of an ASC? All of the above elements are equally important in the ASC world. A few years ago, sharing data was not as significant an issue as it is today. State and federal agencies, specialty registries, and payers require data on the cases you perform. Plus, with more and more procedures moving to the ASC space, this will grow exponentially. The relatively recent healthcare model of outcome-based payment has new reasons to embrace technology to aggregate and report results to receive reimbursement. It is easier to retrieve and track patient data using an EHR and patient registries than labor-intensive paper chart reviews. EHRs are much better organized than paper charts, allowing faster data retrieval. Pages may be missing even when the chart is available.
Human capital is your biggest line item, and paper charting is a full-time job.
Managing patient charts via paper is becoming a full-time employee job. It wastes salaries and, more importantly, employees who could be used for patient care. Almost every industry is computerized and digitized for rapid data retrieval and trend analysis. Why would they want their center to be left out of this loop?
The ROI for implementing an EHR is real and trackable.
Believe it or not, it is not the actual outlay of money for the software. The return on investment for implementing an EHR made for ASCs is ever-improving. Where else in this explosive industry can you gain:
- Convenience and efficiency
- Fewer Storage costs and demands
- Organized and referenced data
- Improved Security and compliance
- Improved patient safety and quality outcomes
- Reporting and quality outcome requirements
- Assist in recruiting young people to your center
- Allow for patient engagement with patient access simplified
- Increase market share as more providers and patients choose your ASC
I will leave you with this…
EMRs are for everyone in the ASC space. Our culture, payments, and future revolve around data. Going digital is no longer about cost as it is too costly to go without. The conversion process isn’t always easy, but it can be surprisingly simplified with the right software partner. Acquiring new skills might be frustrating, but now that so many providers use EHRs in hospitals and clinic environments, the skills are there to tap into. Transitioning to an EHR system has improved the quality of care and outcomes, reduced overhead, and increased job satisfaction. You can’t always convince your physician owner to let go of paper records, but you can share your thoughts and encourage them to do so. If you do, they will be glad they joined your many colleagues on the high-speed road ASCs are creating for the future of healthcare.