Today’s U.S. healthcare system faces many challenges, most notably how to control escalating costs.
This is particularly challenging for hospitals and clinics since about one quarter of their total expenditures currently go to administrative costs—and a lot of those costs are related to handling patient records and billing.
The sheer volume of paperwork is overwhelming, given that hospitals and clinics are required to maintain all patient records for a minimum of 10 years after a patient’s final visit. To complicate matters, the Affordable Care Act has instituted additional regulations for recordkeeping.
It’s not surprising then that more and more healthcare facilities are now digitizing their medical records and implementing document management solutions. The transition from paper to digital offers them several advantages:
- Reduced costs
Hospitals and clinics end up spending less money on equipment (printers, copiers and fax machines) and materials (paper and ink). They require less physical storage space for record keeping since digitized records are kept on onsite servers or in the cloud. And they need fewer employees to handle and retrieve documents.
- Improved security and compliance
While paper documents can get lost in the shuffle or damaged in accidents, natural disasters or through exposure to the elements, electronic file management systems have redundant storage and digital backup and recovery features to minimize risk. Not only that, but every file in the system has a detailed transfer record for greater accountability—with employee names and timestamps automatically assigned at every stage of processing. In addition, access privileges can be assigned to individual files as an added protection for sensitive patient data. Safeguards like these make it easier for hospitals and clinics to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act (PIPEDA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
- Faster processing
While paper documents need to be physically transported from one department to the next, retrieving records through a digital document management system can be done in seconds. And multiple departments can access and update the same records simultaneously.
All of the above factors make healthcare facilities more streamlined and productive so they have more resources to devote to their primary business: providing quality care to patients.
Help you customers make the switch
Some healthcare facilities delay transitioning to electronic document management because they perceive it as difficult and expensive. If you have customers that are hesitant to make the change, point out to them that the move can be done gradually. They can start with a small batch of records in one or two departments and then expand incrementally.
One thing’s for sure, the investment will be well worth it.