Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are critical to healthcare providers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires hospitals and care providers to implement EHR processes or face financial penalties. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requires specific steps to ensure patient privacy and secure EHR data. Many of the business drivers for healthcare providers to adopt Enterprise Content Management (ECM) are driven by compliance with government regulations.
At the same time the medical professional is still bound by paper. In December, 250,000 physicians were notified that they would receive cuts to their Medicare and Medicaid payments because they have failed to integrate EHR record-keeping into their practice. Despite the demand to digitize all paper records, doctors are still bound to some paper processes. They still have to process incoming paper forms and documents, and incoming faxes. Paper is inherent to medicine and to support EHR and EMR systems, healthcare providers have to use document imaging services to convert paper to digital documents as part of EHRs and EMRs.
New Regulatory Concerns Driving EHR and EMR
In addition to existing regulations, there are new regulations that are making digital patient record-keeping essential. Starting this year, the World Health Organization is revising the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). The new ICD-10 medical classifications will affect how medical diagnoses are coded, which will in turn affect record-keeping and insurance claims. Many of these claims are still being processed on paper and have to be incorporated into EHR and EMR records, and previous records will need to be recoded using meta tagging or some other methodology.
There are also new concerns about wireless security and HIPAA compliance regarding maintaining privacy for patients’ records. Hospitals and care facilities are under increasing pressure to go wireless, allowing doctors and nurses to securely access patient records using laptops and tablets while making their rounds. To address concerns over wireless security, hospitals and care facilities are implementing new security protocols for patient records. Part of these protocols include converting existing paper-based records to more secure electronic formats for wireless access, which means using document imaging services for paper conversion.
Better Patient Care
In addition to the regulatory concerns, migrating to electronic patient records improves the quality of care. The patients themselves are in favor of EHR. In a recent report from the National Partnership for Women & Families entitled “Engaging Patients and Families: How Consumers Value and Use Health IT,” 85-89 percent of patients found EHRs more valuable for care delivery while 57-68 preferred paper.
The report also shows that:
- 72 percent of patients of doctors who use EHRs trust them to protect their privacy (as opposed to 65 who use paper);
- Patients who have online access to their own EHRs trust their providers more that those without online access – 77 percent versus 67 percent;
- Patients who have online access to their records check their EHRs more frequently (3 to 6 times per year) and trust their provider with their privacy “completely” or “a lot”; and
- Patients who are informed about EHR access trust their doctors more (63 percent) than patients who aren’t informed (56 percent).
Of course, using document imaging services to maintain complete EHRs provides a wide range of patient care advantages as well, such as:
- Easy access to patient history and charts;
- Better patient safety from duplicate tests, duplicate dosages, or known conditions or allergies;
- Easier collaboration with other physicians, even specialists across the globe;
- Immediate access to lab results, test results, and x-rays;
- Closer collaboration with pharmacists, therapists, and other healthcare professionals; and
- Overall more efficient and better patient care.
Other Business Drivers for Electronic Record-keeping
There are still good business reasons for healthcare providers to embrace document imaging services to streamline paper processes:
- Centralized records are more efficient. One set of patient records not only provide a comprehensive record for better care, but facilitates administrative processes such as scheduling and billing, and provides a complete history if there is ever any question about billing or past treatment.
- More efficient record-keeping means faster and more efficient insurance claims. Making insurance processes more efficient speeds up payments and patient billing.
- Consolidating electronic records saves administrative time. Statistics show that as much as 30 percent of administrative time is spent searching for lost or misfiled paperwork.
- Central data storage improves security, including disaster recovery. Maintaining a secure electronic records repository makes it easier to secure than paper processes, and it also provides disaster recovery. In the event of a fire or flood paper records could be lost or destroyed but electronic records can be securely backed up or even stored in the cloud for both greater access and security.
So what are the basic business drivers for document imaging services for healthcare?
Better data security;
Greater patient trust and satisfaction;
More economical workflow and business processes; and most importantly
Better patient care.
Can you think of other benefits? How would you sell document imaging services to your healthcare prospects?