The innovation physicians, ASCs need in the 'shopping era' of healthcare

In the "shopping era" of healthcare, patients are consumers with higher standards for care — ASCs, independent physicians and physician groups need to stand out. 

A critical tool in attracting patients is technology. Many ASC and physician leaders feel advancements in automation and EMRs are requirements for providers to thrive. Increasing administrative burdens have made automation necessary to handle large volumes, but the cost of technology is holding ASCs and private practice physicians back. 

"The cost of updating and maintaining the practice EMR and IT needs is a huge financial burden on most practices," Judith Gorelick, MD, assistant clinical professor of neurosurgery at Quinnipiac University's Frank H. Netter School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn., told Becker's. "At this point, the cost of running a private practice continues to increase as reimbursements decline, which makes it difficult to have a successful private practice."

Most patients expect some level of technological development, and easy-to-use care platforms are a key way to keep patients engaged. 

Additionally, some payers are beginning to expect outcomes data, a nearly impossible feat without automation. 

"Technology is key as we move toward an outcome-based payment structure from the traditional fee-for-service. Many payers are approaching us about bundles and outcome data," Jeffrey Flynn, administrator and COO of Gramercy Surgery Center in New York City, told Becker's

ASCs especially are behind on the automation process, with many still operating on paper records. More than one-third of the 157 ASCs in New York do not have EHRs, according to Mr. Flynn, who is also the vice president of the New York State Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers. He sees the lack of digital transformation among ASCs as concerning. 

Outside of automation, specialties like orthopedics and gastroenterology are seeing a push toward pricey technology developments like robotics and artificial intelligence. This new tech is costly, but many leaders say it is necessary. 

"Robotic-assisted technology is here to stay," Jason Zook, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at EmergeOrtho in Morganton, N.C., told Becker's. "Applications for different procedures will continue to evolve and allow for increasingly complex procedures to be performed with less patient morbidity and decreased surgeon fatigue due to the enabling tech such as accurate screw and cage placement."

Technology is a steep investment, but developments will only continue. Physicians and ASCs will be expected to keep up. 

"Technology and social hyper-connectedness have opened avenues for doctors to promote themselves to the end-consumer of their service, that is, patients," Rajiv Sharma, founder of Digestive Health Associates in Terre Haute, Ind., told Becker's. "Staying independent and using technology to enhance access to you is the focus."

 

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