Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) have a very important role in shaping the surgery landscape and how the move toward consumerism in healthcare unfolds (as I wrote about here) But one thing that surprises me is how far behind ASCs are when it comes to adopting the IT systems that could help them become more efficient and profitable while allowing them to provide enhanced patient care.
IT can help both hospitals and ASCs to better understand the cost of surgical procedures and move toward enhanced profitability, yet a primary research study by GE comparing IT adoption between ASCs and small hospitals shows that 47% of ASCs do not use IT systems for surgery management and/or anesthesia compared to approximately 34% of small hospitals. About 18% of ASCs have surgery management IT systems, while 29% of ASCs have both an electronic system for surgery management and anesthesia. More information about this study is published in a whitepaper here.
On a more encouraging note, 65% of ASCs in this survey voiced plans to purchase a new surgery management IT system, and 57% plan to purchase an AIMS in the next 18 months. This suggests that more ASCs will soon be able to make strides using information technology similar to the advances made by USF Health.
From my discussions with ASC administrators, most ASCs have at least some type of electronic billing system. These systems provide ASCs with great amounts of financial data, but in order for a system to be helpful to an ASC, it should allow the ASC to do detailed case costing and analysis; identify historical patterns; benchmark data, and optimize scheduling of patients, surgeons, rooms, staff, equipment, and anesthesia personnel. Electronic systems can also help ASCs manage variable costs in inventory and pharmacy supplies related to surgical preference lists by surgeon and by procedure.
Clearly ASCs could do more to make their businesses more efficient with the use of information technology. Hopefully ASC owners and administrators will start to take notice and begin to adopt these systems soon so that both patients and care providers can benefit from ASCs in an enhanced capacity in the upcoming years.