Document storage systems: The role they could play in healthcare

By Jesse Wood / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
November 3, 2017

Document storage systems are becoming imperatives in healthcare, particularly as the industry changes in terms of legislation, privatization, and direct care measures.

A new wave of healthcare information technology (HIT): document storage systems?

Sometimes old legislation imposes challenges that take the industry it affects years, sometimes even decades, to overcome.

For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Stimulus Act), incentivized technology implementation and usage in the healthcare sector.

One fallback of this stimulus plan was failing to specify which technologies mattered most in facilitating the digital change the industry needed.

The oversight here was choosing to rely on systems that failed to implement standardization in document storage and communications across a health network.

In result, EMR and EHR solutions outpaced DMS adoption in the healthcare industry, leading to disarray and even further information chaos. Not only are EMRs clunky and difficult to use, they create substantial and disruptive learning curves for hospital administrators and healthcare providers alike.

Some years later, the healthcare industry is still struggling to reach a consensus on IT infrastructure, and, much like the accounting industry, is investigating cloud-based solutions.

Exploring cloud platform options not only dismantles EMR solutions as the reigning IT champ in healthcare, it paves a path to reducing the cost of care without instigating burnout in healthcare providers across the industry.

Using technology to conquer staffing shortages and other legislative challenges

The Affordable Care Act imposed several key challenges for healthcare providers. Although it had a positive impact in making healthcare services available to a greater number of citizens, it placed a significant strain on the existing resources of primary care providers.

As the demand for care rose, so did the stress of healthcare providers. This legislative change encouraged a new wave of forward-thinking strategy on how healthcare practitioners could manage protected health information (PHI) to increase efficiency and security while simultaneously reducing the stressors of increased access to healthcare.

Essentially, as the access to care increased, the providers within the clinic and hospital systems struggled to keep pace with the demand that followed, and understandably so: Hiring more healthcare providers isn’t easy, especially when their skills are scarce and a shortage of healthcare workers persists in the American economy.

Document storage systems offer a method for continuing the healthcare provider efficiency gained during the years of the Affordable Care Act.

When applied to solving real healthcare problems, these systems can provide the efficiency needed to not just overcome the administrative setbacks of the Affordable Care Act, but also provide greater access to inter-facility training and employee development.

How document storage systems positively impact locum tenens

Given staffing shortages, modes of providing patient care, such as locum tenens physicians and nurses, are becoming more sophisticated and organized.

There are even organizations tasked solely with providing locum tenens opportunities to physicians looking to travel and healthcare facilities looking to fill staffing needs during the summertime or over the holidays.

There is such a widespread proliferation of EMRs and EHRs, and of such great variety, that many locum tenens physicians simply fail to understand use the solutions effectively.

Couple this with the inherent clunky-ness and usability issues, and you have a disaster waiting to happen—no matter how skilled the provider may be in his or her area of expertise.

The solutions to this issue entail finding a simpler solution than an EMR or EHR when attempting to weave locum tenens staffing into the normal, everyday routines and practices of a healthcare facility.

Learning to do these things is better sooner rather than later, and, as is the case with most rapidly changing industries, setting the tone for change will help facilities get ahead. This truism is especially real given the degree to which privatization and competition has gripped the healthcare industry.

Handling medical supplies price fluctuations

One of the benefits of effective information management in healthcare clinics involves relying on solutions that will help these facilities from hemorrhaging money in the form of opportunity costs.

A major opportunity cost on the supply side chain of the healthcare industry involves being unable to adapt to price inflation with new direct care technologies.

If a clinic does not use document storage systems to reduce administrative costs, the increase in price of direct care technologies will be economically unobtainable for smaller clinics providing more tailored, personal care.

This scenario illustrates how cost adjustments and pricing models are an extremely delicate balance in the healthcare industry, but can be leveraged appropriately with the right solutions in place.

A flaw in the HIMSS’s outpatient EMR adoption model

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, with its EHR adoption initiative, uses algorithms to score hospitals according to certain guidelines in IT adoption, and EMRs are the baseline solution suggested.

The problem with the model is that it’s clear in scope regarding the importance of digitization, and unclear about what should happen with information once it’s digitized.

This is a key component of where document storage systems pick up where EMR drops the ball.

Paper-based healthcare environments have been proven to detract from positive patient experiences, resulting in lower quality of care and greater risk of data breach.

So, it’s not to say that digitization is bad; it just isn’t the whole story of a positive healthcare experience for patients.

A lack of clarity on digitization strictures frequently results in digital information chaos—which is just as virulent to information efficiency as the paper-based healthcare models EMRs were designed to overcome—especially when clear parameters aren’t set in stone for what collaboration, sharing, and security features should entail in selected clinic solutions.

Document storage systems can help outpatient providers ensure disaster recovery and mitigation efforts.

As part of the 7th and final tier of EMR adoption according to HIMSS analytics, the disaster recovery portion is more cost effectively handled by document storage solutions, as is the patient portal and electronic messaging components of EMR solutions.

To learn more about eFileCabinet’s document storage systems, visit our homepage, fill out the lead form on the side of this page, or call in today to speak with one of our practice efficiency experts.

Jesse Wood is the CEO of document management software vendor, eFileCabinet.

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