Surgical practices today are increasingly reliant on technology in order to carry out their daily operations. This is partly due to legislation that requires—among other things—the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and open access through the internet to structured electronic health information. It is also due to the challenges and complexities of running a surgical practice which requires technology to ease the process and make things more efficient.
As EHR and PMS systems become mainstream and no longer need to be “sold” to most practices, there are a plethora of other platforms emerging to manage every aspect of the workflow in a surgical practice. Among these platforms is surgical scheduling software. For practices that have already invested heavily in their EHR and PMS systems, there can be considerable hesitation around deploying yet another software solution, as well as doubts about whether the benefits of such technologies will really outweigh the disadvantages of adding surgical scheduling software to an existing tech stack.
In this article, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a surgical scheduling solution and consider whether it is worth the hassle.
Objections to adopting new solutions (and why surgical scheduling solutions are worth it anyway)
As any practice that has adopted new technologies knows, onboarding a new solution is rarely a smooth process. Training staff on how to use the technologies, making sure the new solution integrates with other technologies already in place, and a potentially lengthy and complex onboarding process are all major disadvantages of adopting new technologies—and that is before even factoring in the issue of cost. Decisions about whether to adopt new technologies or not cannot be taken lightly. Rather, practice managers must intelligently weigh the benefits against any disadvantages and then decide whether it is still worth going ahead.
In many practices, surgeries can be the most substantial contributor to the practice’s revenue stream, but surgical practices face daily challenges around surgical scheduling and coordination. Many practices inadvertently lose revenue because of inefficient processes, tracking and a lack of transparency. Anything from not having an easily-accessible digital and shared surgical calendar to having surgreries being canceled due to a lack of adequate tracking of items can be very costly for a practice. It is these issues and more that a surgical scheduling system addresses.
Following are some common objections to adopting new technologies and reasons why, in the case of surgical scheduling scheduling, the benefits tend to outweigh the disadvantages:
Objection 1: It costs too much to purchase yet another solution
The subscription cost for a surgical scheduling solution is often the biggest deterrent to moving ahead, but this should be weighed up as part of a cost-benefit analysis. While it is always important to consider the costs of new technology, it is equally important to consider how much money will be saved once the solution is in place.
The practice should consider the fact that each last-minute surgical cancellation could cost their practice upwards of $4,500 (due to block time, lack of reimbursement etc), and if the tracking from the surgical scheduling platform were to prevent just one last-minute cancellation each month, then the platform could potentially be paying for itself from day one.
Objection 2: It will take too long to train and onboard staff
With any new software, there is inevitably a training period during which staff must learn about its capabilities and get up-to-speed with using it in their day-to-day job. As staff adjust to new practices and systems, tasks that they used to be confident about performing could take longer to complete and there may be some onboarding errors. Of course, these issues can be greatly reduced if the software in question is intuitive and easy to master. But even the most intuitive system requires some kind of onboarding period. As with the issue of cost, the inconveniences posed by training and onboarding should be weighed against the potential benefits once the software is up and running.
When it comes to surgical scheduling software, the onboarding may take a few weeks to level out (though most practices are very comfortable within days due to a very user-friendly UI) but the benefits of the system kick-in immediately.
Booking forms, insurance forms and patient letters are able to be printed or faxed within seconds, surgical calendars are all in-sync and surgeons are able to access their schedules on their mobiles instantly, and the pre-surgery tracking process is immediately improved due to inbuilt dashboards and checklists.
So while users may take some extra time to get used to using the system, the benefits are immediate and time is saved on other tasks. In fact, the time-savings, error-reductions and creation of transparency alone should make the several days or weeks of onboarding and training time well worth it.
Objection 3: What if the software doesn’t integrate with other solutions already in use?
As mentioned above, most surgical practices already use EHR & PMS systems and having other platforms in their tech stack interface with these existing systems is essential. The flow of data between systems is critical and ensures there will be no duplicate entry and prevents human error.
These days, with APIs across the market, most surgical scheduling platforms will offer a certain level of integration with your EHR or PM system. Some surgical scheduling platforms even offer a two-way integration so that data around the surgery is pushed back into the PM or EHR. The level of sophistication around integration continues to rise, and surgical scheduling platforms should be able to facilitate a smooth interface between your existing systems.
The right surgical scheduling solution pays for itself
Onboarding a new technology is not a simple decision, but when an appropriate solution is selected, the benefits will very quickly outweigh the concerns & costs. When considering which surgical scheduling software to use, look at factors such as how user-friendly and intuitive the interface is, how easy it will be to get up and running, how much time is likely to be needed for onboarding and whether the system can integrate fully with existing systems – likely PMS or EMR – from the get-go. A surgical scheduling solution, like Surgimate, that offers the necessary functionality and can also be quickly, economically, and painlessly integrated into a practice’s tech stack, will quickly pay for itself through improvements in efficiency and profitability.