5 Tips on Using Information Technology in Surgery CentersWritten by Taryn Tawoda | June 18, 2012
In a session titled "Information Technology for Surgery Centers: Achieving Positive Outcomes and Avoiding Complications" at the 10th Annual Orthopedic, Spine and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference in Chicago, Michael A. Rauh, MD, of UB Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, and Mike True, chief technology officer of QSE Technologies, discussed strategies for and advantages of using information technology in ambulatory surgery centers.
1. Patients expect surgery centers to be technologically proficient. According to Mr. True, many of the surgery centers he works with say that patients have a positive reaction to technology upgrades. "People equate technology with success, and they equate that with a good experience," he said. "People also expect it. They expect to be able to review an MRI, and if they don't have the opportunity to do that, they think you're putting something past them."
2. Surgery centers need at least one employee to drive technological growth. Mr. True said that it is important to have a "champion" in the surgery center who wants to spearhead successful technological strategies. This includes ensuring that the center appropriately researches technology before making a financial investment. "The worst investments I've seen are when physicians go to a trade show and, without a lot of investigation or due diligence or training, try to implement a technology," he said.
3. Voice recognition software includes time-saving shortcuts. Physicians who are accustomed to dictating during surgeries will find that voice recognition dictation software saves times and money, said Dr. Rauh. "It requires an initial time investment to get used to the buttons and windows," he said, but added that physicians can save time during dictation by typing commonly-used phrases, sentences, paragraphs or notes into the software database and attaching a "shortcut" to each series of words. The words can then be easily recalled during future surgeries when the shortcut is mentioned, said Dr. Rauh.
4. Voice recognition software requires an initial investment and will take time to reap profits. According to Dr. Rauh, voice recognition software involves four key expenses: the software and site license cost (between $2,000 and $3,000); the noise cancelling microphone (between $300 and $400); a Bluetooth headset (between $150 and $250); and computer upgrades, which can cost approximately $2,000. The computer should have XP Pro, a 2.27 GHz processor and 3.0 GB of RAM, he said. "Don't expect it to reap dividends from day one — it takes time to learn the system and time to see how it will fit into your own workflow," said Dr. Rauh.
5. Voice recognition software has multiple benefits in less than six months. Physicians who devote the necessary time and training to voice recognition dictation software will see multiple benefits in their surgery centers, said Dr. Rao. "You'll initially see a decrease in productivity as you're getting used to it, but then you will see a rapid increase in productivity," he said. Benefits include a decreased turnaround time, increased referrals, better documentation and structured data for efficient coding and billing. "The software has a very rapid return on investment — usually within six months," he said.
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