By Dr. Veronica Diaz, medical director of orthopedics, Modernizing Medicine.
The growing preference for outpatient orthopedic surgery is much more than another pandemic-inspired trend. Recent advances in medicine over the past few years have made procedures, even those as intensive as total joint replacements (TJR), safe to conduct in the outpatient or ASC setting.
Now, surgeons can capitalize on regional anesthesia and tranexamic acid to minimize blood loss and GPS software to improve the precision of implant positioning, all factors which ensure the patient can recover comfortably in their own home, not the hospital.
While these advances make outpatient TJR procedures possible, the digital transformation in healthcare makes it preferable. Specialty-specific digital tools are crucial for the transition to outpatient surgery, reducing the burden on physicians, limiting a patient’s time spent out of the home, and lowering costs for both patients and physicians.
As has been widely reported, inefficient electronic health record software can intensify burnout instead of mitigating it. Physicians that spend extensive time documenting, especially after hours, report higher rates of burnout, and programs that are click-intensive and data-heavy contribute to this phenomenon as well.
These pitfalls are especially burdensome in the ASC setting because it is a site of care that may be separate from a patient’s primary care office or hospital system. In order to best understand a patient’s medical history and effectively communicate with their other physicians and specialists, ASCs need interoperable EHR systems that minimize manual data entry.
EHR adoption is already especially challenging within orthopedics, as this is a specialty that covers a wide age range, from children to older adults, and encompasses integumentary, neurovascular, and musculoskeletal systems across the entire body. Therefore, on top of the challenges of finding software that mimics the workflow of outpatient care, it must also capture the nuances of the orthopedic specialty. It should streamline workflows and predict and suggest codes, reducing overall clicks and time spent within the system, so that the physician can dedicate that time to the patient.