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    Disadvantages of an EHR For Surgery Scheduling

    Sari Nossbaum | June 27, 2018

    There’s a fine art to scheduling surgery. Unfortunately, many practices are limiting themselves by not using the most appropriate technology. Instead of investing in software that is specific to scheduling, they opt to use their EHR as a multipurpose tool. In this article, we discuss the pluses of EHRs, while also highlighting the various disadvantages of using an EHR for surgery scheduling. 




    EHR Benefits and Drawback 


    We understand why practices try to use their EHRs to manage tasks for scheduling surgery. EHRs cost. A lot. Given that EHRs are such a heavy investment, why not use it for surgery scheduling?



    Coupled with this, widespread use of EHRs is a new phenomenon. Meaningful Use completely flipped the industry so that within the space of a decade, the use of EHRs went from 10% to almost 90% among doctors offices in the USA. But after shelling out that much for an EHR, it’s often a shock for doctors to realize they need to add on other systems to their arsenal.


    Surgimate discusses the increase in use of EHR and disadvantages of an EHR.

    SOURCE: The office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology



    It’s true, EHRs can do some of the basic tasks associated with scheduling surgery. You might just need to bend over backwards, and then do five backflips. Jokes aside, there’s a host of reasons it’s time to let your EHR to do what it was designed to do, and does really really well – and that is, manage clinical data. Let’s explore the specific features and tasks that can be executed with an EHR, and the ones that need a different software altogether for efficient surgery scheduling. 


    1. Tracking


    EHRs are great at storing clinical data, but fall short when it comes to surgery data – let alone reporting on it. Tracking what’s still needed in order to process a surgery and ensure the patient is cleared for surgery is not something EHRs can easily do. Schedulers have to keep track of a long list of details, including

    • authorizations, 
    • clearances, 
    • H&Ps, 
    • PATs and 
    • EKGs.

    And that’s before anything complicated comes up. Once you’re dealing with cancellations or rescheduling, fuhgeddaboudit it.

    Surgimate highlights the disadvantages of an EHR when it comes to dealing with cancellations.


    A major disadvantage of EHR for patients specifically is the inability to track insurance and reimbursements associated with surgery. Schedulers might be able to write notes inside each record, but there is no way to report on these notes, and view everything in one snapshot. There’s also no capability to view all upcoming surgeries that require precertification or surgeries that are ready to be processed for billing. All of which means crucial info might be missed… and real $$ in revenue literally slips through the cracks.


    It’s critical to have an organized tracking system for schedulers to easily see the progress of surgeries and follow up with patients.


    2. Calendars & Mobile Access


    Many practices resort to using their Practice Management System’s calendar to manage their surgical calendar. The thing is, PMS calendars are designed for in-office appointment scheduling, but they can’t deal with the complexity of surgical scheduling such as:

    • managing multiple hospitals and ASCs, 
    • juggling doctors block time, 
    • filling in last minute cancellations.

    All of these examples are daily occurrences at any surgical practice. As a result, many practices with EHR and PM systems still resort to using good ol’ paper calendars – often one for each surgeon at the practice – for scheduling surgery.


    Then there’s providing surgeons with mobile access to their surgical schedule as well as integrating with their personal calendar. PMS calendars usually do not integrate with Outlook, Google or other third-party calendars. This often leads to double or triple inputting information or having crucial details going AWOL, and let’s not even mention exposing PHI. Not only is this a big no-no, it could also cause avoidable scheduling snafus, and who has time for that?


    Surgimate’s app allows surgeons, schedulers and medical personnel to access a synchronized calendar. They can view patients’ medical records and surgical details on a completely HIPAA compliant and efficient platform.


    Surgimate explores the various disadvantages of an EHR, including inputting information incorrectly.


    3. Form Generation


    We may live in a digital age, but there’s still endless paperwork associated with scheduling surgery. Form generation is somewhat hit or miss with an EHR. If a form-creation/generation feature is available, it is usually a basic, but still a very expensive add-on. Forms generated out of EHRs tend to be produced using off the shelf templates that are limited in design and expensive and time-consuming to modify (if modifying is even an option!). This can be problematic because most hospitals and insurance companies insist all forms follow their in-house templates, which EHRs can’t do out of the box.


    Digital form generators eliminate the risk of error, saves time and helps boost overall efficiency in practices.


    4. Reporting


    These days, anyone who’s not analyzing business data is digging themselves in a hole. There are some fundamental data points about surgeries that are critical to any practice manager trying to improve their practice’s bottom line. The ability to report on the number of canceled surgeriescanceled surgeries – within any given time frame – is one example of data that EHRs simply cannot report on. 


    Other reports, such as surgery volume or block time utilization at any given facility, are all data points that any manager would drool over, but cannot pull out of their EHR system.


    Surgimate’s reporting feature gives practices valuable insights into their performance levels and identifies recurring problems in the system.


    Surgimate suggests disadvantages of an EHR, including poor reporting capabilities.


    Choose Wisely for Efficient Surgery Scheduling Technology


    Just like you wouldn’t expect your billing software to serve as an effective PACS, don’t expect your EHR to fill your surgery scheduling needs. Adding a dedicated surgery scheduling platform, such as Surgimate, to complement your technology stack, is the ideal setup for every surgical practice. 


    These days, with APIs popping up faster than vegan eateries, interoperability is seamless and reliable. More than that, the proliferation of APIs reinforce the fact that EHR companies themselves recognize the disadvantages of EHR and that they can’t perform all tasks needed to run a surgical practice. As a result, they are welcoming other platforms out there that will complement their functionality. And yes, adding a surgery scheduling platform may be another investment, but it’s one that will definitely pay dividends.  


    Learn more about efficient surgery scheduling software with Surgimate


    Surgimate's form generator automatically generates surgical paperwork.

    Surgimate staff and others recommend
    About the author: Sari Nossbaum is the Director of Marketing at Surgimate. When she’s not writing insightful articles about surgical management, she can usually be found on her yoga mat or on her road bike, somewhere...
    Published on June 27, 2018. All rights reserved by the author.

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