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Managing medical records: A guide for facilities and providers

By Jesse Wood / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
June 22, 2018

Managing medical records has become a subject of frustration and dissent for healthcare providers and facilities alike, and for numerous reasons.

With the advent of electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) solutions, clinics and hospitals adopt these technologies only to find they increase the frustration they were designed to eliminate—the frustration of managing medical records like it’s 1950.

This simply won’t do in present day, as providers and facilities are expected to be 10 years ahead of the curve. But fast-paced changes are the result of these trends.

The landscape of the healthcare industry has shifted dramatically in the past decade, and outdated solutions simply won’t do.

As privatization and increased competition among facilities to provide the best patient experience intensify, the emerging industry trend of bureaucratization has taken center stage.

In fact, the financial viability of hospitals and facilities has become so important that a new hospital administrator metric has emerged to account for the provider credentialing process—economic credentialing, which gauges a provider’s ability to generate profit for the facilities in which they work.

So, what can healthcare providers and facilities do, if anything, to begin managing medical records more effectively? In this article, we’ll explore document management technologies as viable alternatives to EHRs and EHRs, and why they are untapped resources for effective information management in the healthcare industry.

Managing medical records for coordinated care best practices

Coordinated care is the process of ensuring patients receive the care best designed for them, and at the appropriate time. This includes but is not limited to avoiding treatment mistakes, and ensuring services are not redundant.

This definition will change from facility to provider to administrator, but, in general, it always involves the coordinated delivery of correct treatment for patients.

The New England Journal of Medicine highlights how coordinated care and healthcare competition are vying for precedence in the patient-provider relationship. The premise of Levy and Baicker’s article is to highlight the issues this dichotomy imposes.

Document management technologies can adjoin these competing philosophies and practices for the better, especially as it pertains to managing medical records.

Why EHR alternatives and EMR alternatives belong in the conversation

Document management solutions are ideal alternatives to EHRs and EMRs because, as a single solution, they can materialize competitively quick document routing and automation processes, and effectively manage patient information—which will always increase the quality of patient care.

Although EMRs and EHRs are designed to accomplish these objectives, their user interfaces are clunky, counterintuitive, and a byproduct of software development leadership too far removed from contemporary healthcare processes.

Managing medical records for improvements in managed care

Managed care is what keeps appropriate healthcare procedures financially accessible to the general population, assuming patients are insured. As one of the primary responsibilities of hospital administrators’ job functions, managed care is the convergence of the patient-provider relationship.

Why document management belongs in the conversation

The cost of medical care is extremely important for patients when considering facilities and insurance policies, especially as competition among providers and healthcare facilities increase with privatization.

Managing medical records effectively with a document management solution can provide the efficiencies needed to keep operational expenses low, especially considering the security measures these solutions have in place.

For instance, the cloud portal component of document management solutions helps facilities and providers ensure that Technical Safeguard four of HIPAA – Transmission Security – is met to ensure compliance. The bank-grade encryption and SSL (secure socket layer) security ensures protected health information (PHI) is facilitated.

Not only does this mitigate the possibility of noncompliance and the financial costs and reputational risks associated with it, it also facilitates the advancement of telemedicine, as the portals can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.

Without these document management security features, mobile health and convenient patient care will be difficult to actualize.

Managing medical records to scale back on uncompensated care

Point of service healthcare collections are on the rise, and although consumers aren’t free of blame in this equation, the patient costs associated with healthcare are partially responsible.

Although competition and privatization have lowered prices in some sectors of healthcare, uncompensated care remains an issue in healthcare clinics and facilities.

This phenomenon incentivizes facilities to scale back on costs without damaging the patient experience in as many unique ways as possible, which becomes increasingly difficult to do as many of these instances of uncompensated care are written off as unclaimable or detracted from the profit section on the bottom line.

Why doc management solutions should be considered as a solution

In addition to helping hospital administrators keep better tabs on the costs incurred from uncompensated care, document management solutions enable healthcare facilities and providers to lower administrative costs without cutting back on providers’ pay rates or reducing the quality of patient care.

Any document-intensive process in a healthcare facility that is conducted manually (or digitally and ineffectively, as is the case with most EMR or EHR solutions), will absorb valuable time in the day. As an increasing number of patients are expected to wait for provider services with an increased patient load, it’s no wonder that paper-dependent processes waste at least 33% of the average physician’s time.

Managing medical records as allied health professionals

Allied health is becoming an increasingly important part of managing medical records in the broader healthcare context.

The term was devised to refer to non-traditional healthcare providers, such as machine technologists and mental health professionals.

Unsurprisingly, discovering where these allied health professionals fit in the managing medical records context adds another layer of complexity to the industry.

It also means a lot of training for new hires, which raises another question: How do administrators of clinics and hospitals properly train for such emergent positions in the medical field?

Why document management matters in the conversation

As a tool that frees up the time, money, and capital for professional development, employee growth, and employee training, document management technologies can save the world’s workforce, healthcare included, one new efficiency at a time.

Given that the costs of onboarding new healthcare employees has skyrocketed, using a document management solution as a cost-effective alternative to EHRs and EHRs can mitigate the impact of these costs, and ensure the documents involved in the process are kept secure over the long haul.

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

 

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