Guest Column | March 16, 2018

It's Time To Modernize Surgery Coordination

By Gavin Fabian, CEO of Casetabs

Healthcare IT

Paper charts and file rooms, once a common site among healthcare facilities, are nearly extinct. They have been replaced with electronic health record systems. Mobile technology and the cloud have enabled anytime, anywhere access to patient information while making access to Health IT easier and more affordable. From surgical robots to smart hospitals, there is a digital transformation taking place and it is radically changing patient care.

The advancements in the healthcare industry are exciting. Yet despite remarkable progress, it is surprising to see that some of the most critical areas of healthcare continue to rely on archaic methods like phone and fax. Consider for example, surgery coordination and communication.

The vast majority of hospitals, physician offices, and surgery centers still rely on old-school phone, fax, and text to coordinate surgical cases. Pre-clearance documentation is still faxed to a surgery center from the physician office, then a series of phone calls and text messages are placed to confirm schedule details. Any changes or updates to a case require yet another round of calls and texts to every person involved in the case including physician office staff, anesthesia, surgeons, and medical vendor reps. The process is very time consuming and error prone. When updates or changes are missed errors happen; case delays and cancelations quickly follow. As a result, patient satisfaction and safety are impacted and financial losses occur when a fully staffed OR is left sitting idle.

Understanding The Problem

When you consider that advances in technology have made it possible for computer-controlled robots to assist in certain surgical procedures, it is hard to understand why something as basic as surgery coordination has not followed the same technological path as other areas of healthcare. A key reason for this stagnancy has been interoperability. While most hospitals, surgery centers, and physician offices have transitioned away from paper to clinical software, they are on different platforms. And because these systems are not integrated, each organization operates independently, in a silo.

Thanks to cloud computing, technology does exist that allows these silos to be connected. Unfortunately, lack of awareness has limited its reach. In some instances there is an unwillingness to change how things have always been done. Hopefully with greater understanding and awareness of advances in surgical coordination technology, the use of phone, fax, and text to coordinate surgeries will soon be a thing of the past.

Leveraging The Cloud

Cloud computing has been touted as a game changer for its ability to drive business innovation. In addition to anytime, anywhere access to information, the cloud enables new technology to be developed faster and at a price that is more affordable than traditional software deployments. One such technology is rapidly changing how physician offices, hospitals, and surgery centers manage cases.

Surgical coordination and communication systems are growing in popularity for their ability to breakdown the silos between physician offices, surgery centers, and hospitals. These cloud-based systems serve as a central hub for all case-related information. Similar to a project management tool, surgery coordination systems simplify tasks by providing an at-a-glance view of where a patient is at each step in the case, from scheduling all the way through discharge. They allow real-time schedule and patient demographic information to be quickly pulled from the physician’s office and populated into the surgery coordination system. Every time there is a change or an update to a case, the system sends automated alerts to everyone involved in the case, including vendor reps. Because these systems are cloud-based, information is easily accessible to those who need it, regardless of location, either through a laptop or mobile device such as an iPhone or Android.

No Excuses

Physician offices, hospitals, and surgery centers spend too much time coordinating cases using archaic methods. By not moving forward with technology, patients are needlessly put at risk while healthcare organizations lose money.

Advances in cloud-based technology provide an affordable and easy-to-use fix for what has typically been a time consuming, error-prone process. Surgery communication and coordination systems streamline case communication, alleviate unnecessary delays and cancellations and improve quality of care. With these systems, there is no excuse to continue forward with antiquated methods like phone, fax, and text for surgical case communication.