Document Management for Improved Healthcare

Lean Document Processes Mean Improved Healthcare

The U.S. healthcare industry produces more than 1.2 billion clinical documents every year. Most organizations (96% of hospitals and 86% of office-based physicians) have embraced the use of electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR), yet still deal with mountains of paper as they manage patient files, physician notes, charts, insurance reporting, and other forms.

With the use of digital records continuing to increase and paper records still needing to be managed, the amount of healthcare data is expected to grow, on average, 36% per year through 2025. This puts new and unique demands on healthcare organizations to manage a growing volume of data. Healthcare providers are becoming aware that applying the lean principles used in industrial facilities, particularly workstream mapping, can help organize data flow and prioritize actions that can lead to better management of this increasing amount of information.  

Bridging Digital and Paper Worlds

Mapping the flow of information within clinical workstreams, healthcare organizations can identify and analyze areas that may be bottlenecks, duplication of efforts, cost drains, or security risks. With that knowledge, providers can make changes to provide better patient outcomes, improve operation effectiveness, reduce costs, and meet regulatory requirements like HIPAA more efficiently. Some of the benefits of lean document processes and management include:

  • Standardized and streamlined workflows that improve patient satisfaction and overall productivity.
  • Enhanced clinical documentation efforts that improve the conversion of patient status and updates to coded data, producing higher-quality reporting, faster reimbursements, more effective disease tracking, and more.
  • Cost reductions as staff, systems, and devices are more efficiently deployed and managed.
  • Improved data security through access controls and authentication policies to protect patient privacy and meet government regulations.

Bridging the digital and paper worlds in which healthcare information resides in order to receive these improvements and benefits can be a daunting task. However, working with an experienced solution provider familiar with lean document processes and applying the applicable technology and services can help make the process easier. Some of the areas where actions and technology can be applied to carry out lean document processes include:

Improving patient satisfaction and outcomes

  • Enhance interoperability by finding where paper-to-digital information handoffs happen and where standalone scanners or MFPs can be used to convert paper documents to digital form, reducing errors and lost data and allowing staff to more quickly and accurately communicate patient information.
  • Create standard practices and protocols to determine how and when to convert paper documents to digital form to reduce or eliminate the confusion of multiple paper documents.

Improve staff productivity and operation effectiveness

  • Use one-touch automated distribution for printing documents to route the documents to the specific location they are needed, or use one-touch scanning to convert paper documents and direct the digital information to the precise department or workgroup, ensuring staff has the correct critical information they need at all times.
  • Scan paper documents directly to a folder or workflow application that kicks off a digital workstream to avoid lost information to ensure ease and accuracy of communication.
  • Index scanned documents at the point they are scanned to digitize the document and make it easier to manage, route, and find when it is needed later.
  • Use audit trails to track documents printed or scanned by user, time and date to monitor the efficiency of a workstream to reduce or eliminate slow and frustrating processes between medical providers and patients.

Better Cost Management Through Output Management

  • Actively monitor print devices to know how much is being printed, as well as when and where a document is printed.
  • Limit the use of color printing by defaulting all print to black and white.
  • Duplex all print documents to save paper.
  • Require users to input a user ID and password or authenticate via a proximity card at the print device to reduce print waste from prints left in exit trays.

Security and Patient Privacy Protection

  • Limit the number of staff who can print or scan documents.
  • Require staff to authenticate at each device to print or scan a document.
  • Implement a device management solution that provides audit trails for users and documents that are printed or scanned and that can provide alerts if selected keywords are within the document.

With proper planning, the right solution provider, and the appropriate technology, any healthcare facility can begin using lean document management principles and begin receiving the benefits they provide. White papers such as Canon’s “Lean Document Processes in Healthcare” can also provide additional useful information. Golden Business Machines is Pennsylvania’s leading integrator of digital document solutions for Healthcare.