Takeaways at a Glance:
- Many Ambulatory Surgery Centers need a technology upgrade in order to compete in an increasingly crowded market.
- Automating, streamlining and clinically integrating ambulatory surgical supply chain workflows can have a direct impact on nurse retention.
- Data capture is becoming ever more crucial as an ambulatory healthcare management tool.
This article looks at three ways that ambulatory care centers are addressing inefficiencies, so that they can compete in the evolving outpatient ambulatory care market.
With the ambulatory services rapidly expanding, there are both challenges and opportunities for ambulatory centers. As the market heats up, what can ambulatory healthcare providers do to improve their chances of success?
It’s actually not rocket science, it’s the same buzzwords that we hear over and again.
Streamlining. Automation. Data Analytics. Reducing Nurse Admin Time.
The ambulatory medicine providers who are able to embrace these known drivers for success, are the ones that will most likely reap the biggest rewards.
1. Embracing technology to improve day-to-day operations
There are very real financial pressures on ASCs as they receive lower reimbursement than hospitals for the same procedure.
On average, CMS reimburses ASCs at 53% of the rate it reimburses HOPDs for the same procedure*1
On top of this, ambulatory centers are having to navigate the ‘new normal’ of increased staff overheads, a disrupted supply chain and higher inventory costs. Although ASC reimbursement rates are periodically reviewed, they simply aren’t comparable with rising costs, adding to the financial pressures on outpatient ambulatory care providers.
Since external factors cannot be easily controlled, we are seeing renewed efforts to
improve internal systems and procedures, as part of cost-cutting exercises.
Having traditionally relied upon manual workflows, there is now widespread recognition that medical inventory is an expensive resource that needs more efficient management. In addition, clinically integrating supply chain workflows has reaped both clinical and operational benefits, so working holistically and removing silos is also high up on many ASC wish lists.
Many ASCs are now turning towards technology as they scale up, in an attempt to reduce the cost and complexity of day-to-day operations.
Current workflows, systems and tools all need to be reviewed with a critical eye – as ambulatory centers embrace automation in a bid to achieve simpler, less labor-intensive workflows. Once achieved, ASCs can work smarter and redirect staff time and organizational budgets to other priorities.
2. Automating workflows can help retain staff
It’s not easy for the ambulatory care sector to attract and retain nursing staff in the aftermath of the Great Resignation. Not only is there a shortage of qualified, experienced staff, but Ambulatory Surgery Centers are up against hospitals where salaries tend to be higher. This makes it harder for ASCs to compete for and retain, the workforce they need.
One thing’s for sure, now is the time to appreciate and nurture your staff!
In a bid to reduce staff turnover, some Ambulatory Medicine Centers are trying to
identify and address the specific tasks and issues that underpin nurse dissatisfaction.
One factor known to have a negative effect on nurse morale is the heavy supply chain workload in the surgery setting. Perioperative nurses are motivated to care for patients, so time-consuming admin is an annoyance and a distraction from their key role. ASCs tend to have older technology or manual systems, resulting in nurses spending a lot of time keying information into the hospital system. Not only is this task mundane and time consuming but it also has a high error rate.
New technology is easing perioperative admin, automating longwinded supply chain tasks and freeing up nurses .
As an example to look at the impact of technology, let’s look at the value of adding two health-tech automation tools into the surgery setting.
Adding these two advanced automations to clinical workflows has achieved two important clinical aims in healthcare organizations:
- It slashed the admin burden placed upon nurses by enabling:
- Quick location of items needed in surgery.
- Easy item and charge capture at the point of use.
- Accurate supply chain data that improves the availability of inventory at hand.
- It improved protection for patients, and provides a safety net for nurses by:
- Flagging up recall and expiry issues, prior to surgery.
- Enabling quick and efficient recall management for any future recalls.
Automating and streamlining surgical supply chain workflows not only boosts clinical and operational performance, it has a positive effect on nurse morale too.
Simplifying, automating and speeding up surgical supply chain workflows can improve:
Nurse retention. Patient safety. Inventory management. Revenue recovery.
There are clearly major wins to be had by getting the right tools in place to simplify nurse supply chain admin.
3. Using complete data to inform decision making
As the industry changes, ASCs are wising up. Data used to be a big turn-off for clinical staff, but these days the value of this critical information is clear.
In terms of supply chain management, the automated, accurate and timely capture of clinical data can be used to provide metrics, reports and advanced data analytics. This key data is being used by shrewd ASCs to identify supply chain weak points, predict demand and pinpoint potential cost savings.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers who use manual methods or older technology, generally end up collecting limited data,
meaning that the figures used for decision-making are incomplete.
They were basing important, high-cost decisions on a partial picture.
There is now recognition that robust software that facilitates the collection of timely, full and accurate data is a crucial tool for same day surgery centers. Once accurate data capture is achieved, management will finally have the full picture and be able to make better business decisions.
In a tough healthcare sector, full of uncertainly and challenge, outpatient surgery centers need to run a tight ship to survive. Incorporating automation into clinical and supply chain workflows has proven to be an effective way to:
- Lower wastage
- Achieve a streamlined inventory
- Reduce supply chain admin
- Retain nurses
- Increase revenue
Improving inventory control by leveraging new ASC-centric technology is the tactic that many ambulatory outpatient centers are using to fight back against higher supply chain costs, enabling them to keep surgery rates low, and gain a competitive edge.
Three ways to improve ASC performance are to streamline processes, improve POU data capture solutions and use data to inform decision-making.
Using the latest technology to work smarter will improve ASC performance and prepare them for a tougher market.