Steve Bowman, MHA, MBA, is administrator for Mercy Outpatient Surgery Center in Fort Smith, Ark. Mercy Outpatient Surgery Center is a multi-specialty ASC providing procedures in orthopedics, general surgery, otolaryngology (ENT), plastics, ophthalmology, podiatry and gynecology. It has been an AmkaiSolutions partner since 2011, and went live with AmkaiOffice in 2012.

Q: Why did Mercy Outpatient Surgery Center choose AmkaiOffice as its administrative system?

Steve Bowman: When I joined the ASC in August 2011, the governing board had already made the formal decision to go with AmkaiSolutions during the prior quarter. I was informed that it was a two-fold rationale for choosing AmkaiSolutions: The staff liked what they saw from the billing and collective perspective, and they also were interested in the inventory management component.

Q: What was the integration process experience like for you and the staff?

SB: I think that was one of the biggest pluses with choosing AmkaiSolutions and AmkaiOffice. When we actually started the integration process, and shooting for a go-live date, AmkaiSolutions brought a perspective that I wasn’t used to with some of the other vendors. Their team really works hand in hand with you during the installation, which was a big plus for me and for the staff. We were able to ask questions, see the system in a test environment and then get a feel for it, whereas other vendors just give you the software and then they come back a few weeks later on the back end to do some follow-up training.

Q: You went live with AmkaiOffice in July 2012. What have been your impressions of the system thus far?

SB: The system has really great features. One of the best things is the ability to actually send bills out. We use an intermediary that handles our bills, and the ability for AmkaiOffice to get our bills out is fabulous. It’s just a couple of points and clicks and the bills are on their way. That’s one of the best functionalities of this system.

Another great piece is the ability to print patient statements in a mass group. With the system we had before, you couldn’t do that. You had to go one by one and print every statement individually. With AmkaiOffice, you can print a whole group of statements based on a period time. It’s phenomenally easy and makes our lives a lot easier than the way we had it before. Once we verify balances, we print a batch at the first of the month and then we mail the statements to patients who have balances remaining. Our volume typically ranges from 520-615 cases a month, although sometimes we hit 700 cases. To print so many statements individually and not in batch form would probably require us to hire another staff member.

Q: Are there any other features of AmkaiOffice you find valuable?

SB: Something else I find is fabulous is the year-at-a-glance feature. It allows us to look at the schedule and see the number of cases that have been scheduled, so we can get a visual quick count of how many cases we have going for any period of time we’re looking it — this week, next week, the next three weeks, etc. For me as the administrator and for my scheduling people, it’s a great way for us identify how many cases do we have and do we need to put a full push on to the doctors to try to get more cases. It also helps with managing staffing levels and other issues.

Another fantastic feature is the reports, and the ability to run reports at different levels and customize them on the fly. That alone is worth the price of the system itself. For example: the ability to run the revenue by period. We use that on a monthly basis. We usually run it by payor, physician and by the actual date that the revenue was brought in so we can see all of the charges and payments based on the day of the week. All of this gives us an idea of who is paying us and for which surgeon. To be able to pull this data gives us a phenomenal advantage. I can quickly sit down with my surgeons one on one and say, “Here is what your payor mix is. I’m seeing increases in payments from these payors, you’re looking stable here or your payments are being reduced, so maybe you have some more Medicaid in your mix and that’s affecting your distribution stream.” I get this data in one or two clicks. It’s amazing, and it gives me a great way to sit down with my surgeons individually and discuss areas for improvement.

Something the staff has brought to my attention is they like the flexibility and ease of use of the scheduling component. It’s easy to move the cases around on the schedule. Sometimes we have some rescheduling that goes on, and just to be able to move the blocks around with the cases for individual surgeons is another big positive of the system.

The bottom line for me is as an administrator, what’s great about AmkaiOffice is the overall robustness of the system. It does exactly what you need it do in order to function from a billing, collecting and inventory control system perspective, and those are the absolute keys for me to make a center successful.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you had a great experience with the AmkaiSolutions team during the integration process. What experiences have you had with other members of the AmkaiSolutions team?

SB: AmkaiSolutions has a great sales staff. They’re very knowledgeable about the product. The customer support people have been fantastic as well. When you buy something, you want to have support. We’ve called a few times in a week, and everybody is just more than happy to help us out. Typically when you call a place, they put you on hold. AmkaiSolutions: They answer right away, and if the person answering the phone doesn’t know the answer, they find someone who does. That part of it has just been tremendous. On a scale of 1-10, I would give them a 12. We’re running 100 miles an hour here and I don’t have staff with time to try to answer these questions I have, so I need to figure a lot of this out myself. The AmkaiSolutions team has made addressing any questions much easier.