Steps for Paperless Hospital Environment
Hospitals globally are under tremendous pressure of various factors like increasing healthcare costs, growing aging population and demanding reimbursements and claims. Therefore they are constantly seeking ways to enhance their productivity and efficiency through better approaches of Hospital Operations Management. This is being done for reducing operational costs and increasing the revenue margins.
With the growing consumerism and increasing patient demands, hospitals also have to strive towards maintaining meaningful patient engagements by optimum utilization of Healthcare Information Technology (HIT). This may be achieved by harvesting the benefits of digitization through the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR). While this proposal looks exciting and promising, Hospital Digital Transformation has its own challenges like-
- Overcoming the fear of change by the hospital staff
- Incurring the cost of implementation
- Handling the security of data in the electronic records
- Managing the silo effect in handling the various isolated healthcare data chunks
- Establishing data standards
- Failing to understand the holistic picture for reconciling the HIT and EMR systems
- Complying to regulatory policies and standards
Eliminating paperwork in hospitals is a demanding task. The process involves ensuring the availability of all records in online and real-time formats. That includes everything from the patient registration to admission, treatment, discharge and finally follow-ups. Hence it must adopt an integrated approach and not merely be restricted to the scanning of patient information for digitization. The services of Healthcare Consulting Firms may be used to streamline the entire flow with an incremental approach to ensure a smooth and hassle-free transition.
Steps for Transitioning to a Paperless Environment in Hospitals
- Creating a process-workflow map: The generation of information starts the moment the patient steps into the hospital and registers his/her details. So it is essential to map the complete patient trajectory with the workflow for both inpatients and outpatients. This will clearly outline and estimate the amount of paperwork involved. So the entire task may be subsequently automated.
- Procuring the required hardware and software: For creating a paperless environment, all the records must be scanned. This includes data from the healthcare domain(Emergency and Critical Care (ECC), Hospital Registration and Admission, Wards, Operating Theatres (OT),Intensive Care Units(ICU) and other departments like Diagnostic Labs, Pharmacy, Blood Banks, Imaging Units) and administrative domain(Finance, Human Resource, Operations, Insurance and Legal departments).Any isolated silos of data must be integrated carefully. The required equipment (hardware and software) for this may be bought or procured by Information Technology (IT) outsourcing.
- Implementing the EMR System: Besides the above resources, the software for creating the EMR must be purchased and implemented. This helps in automating the entire workflow to eliminate all the paper documents.
- Giving Staff Training: It is important to train the hospital staff to how to use the new system for entering and retrieving patient and other related information in the correct manner. Periodic training for existing staff on technological advancements and new practices in this project and induction training for newcomers is recommended on a regular basis.
- Obtaining Digital Certification for Securing Patient Information: Retaining the confidentiality of patient information and following business ethics is the most crucial factor in sustenance and success of hospital business. Since digital records ensure that information is not perishable, they must furnish reliable and authentic data only to the concerned users who have appropriate access. This is accomplished through signature by digital certificates.
Benefits of Paperless Hospital Environment
- Minimized delays in obtaining clinical test results, treatment and follow-ups
- Ease of access
- Integrated environment for all concerned stakeholders
- Elimination of manual tasks and human errors
- Real-time furnishing of all patient-related information
- Cost savings and increased work efficiency
Thus a paperless hospital can create an integrated and seamless patient-centric environment.