Ease the burden of e-patient records

Aug. 9, 2011

Using managed print services is proven to lighten the load of IT and advance end-to-end interoperability for electronic records management for hospitals.

The electronic medical record (EMR) represents a healthcare evolution enabled by IT applications, as well as a complex and consequential paradigm shift for the entire industry. As a result of strict federal mandates, as well as hefty financial incentives and penalties, there is a lot at stake for the nation's nearly 6,000 hospitals and 700,000-plus physicians ill-prepared for this transformative delivery of quality patient care. No doubt, this is a team effort as the exchange of information must be standardized, interoperable and systemic across platforms, servers, devices and networks. Burdened with the bulk of this monumental transition are already-stretched hospital IT departments that are under a microscope to find comprehensive conversion strategies that integrate the vast clinical care equipment and data entry software constructively.

Critical to the success of implementing e-recordkeeping is a multi-faceted, end-to-end approach of document management strategies that meet network infrastructure requirements, bring clarity to hospitals' highly fragmented print environments, provide valuable support for healthcare IT departments and ensure customized connectivity applications and interoperability of hardware and software.

To help ease the burden, many industry-leading hospitals and hospital systems are turning to managed print services (MPS) as a proven, results-driven solutions partner. MPS provides due diligence demanded for efficient workflow, continuous process improvement methodology and change management expertise. Inherent in MPS is volume reduction — a key component of the refinement of healthcare delivery to reduce waste and carbon footprint. In addition, MPS is widely known to reduce expenses by as much as 30% by uncovering hidden costs and designing enterprise-wide document management systems that include training and education. When considering that an average 360-bed hospital produces over 2.5 million documents every month, the approach to e-records consolidation must integrate all aspects of functional and necessary healthcare business and clinical operations.

In 2010, the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization and evidence-based practice center for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, recommended four steps for hospitals to successfully transition to e-patient records — all of which are fundamental elements of a healthcare MPS strategy:

  1. Map out the existing workflow and clinical data flow at your organization.
  2. Identify the costs of paper information (e.g., manage, monitor and control your print infrastructure).
  3. Prepare existing medical records for transition to electronic records.
  4. Address all security and privacy concerns.

These recommendations suggest that hospitals must go beyond simply purchasing software and start inputting clinical data at the bedside and elsewhere. Similar to the holistic approach of a physician's care of patients, hospitals must understand the entire infrastructure of their campuses before taking steps to fulfill the notion of electronic medical records. MPS is a critical component of electronic data adoption, as well as a solution to cost containment and transparency of meaningful data using the vast and complex ecosystem of devices and technology to meet the needs of a hospital's broader strategic planning.

No matter what the hospital's current stage of adoption, there is no better time than now to partner with an expert MPS company that is vendor independent and has the experience and expertise to meet the precise needs of hospitals and caregivers and ease the burden of transitioning to electronic patient records.

A qualified MPS partner:

  • Streamlines and reduces print volume;
  • Identifies state-of-EMR readiness;
  • Discovers areas of highest risk;
  • Builds a road map to compliance;
  • Mitigates fines and other sanctions;
  • Identifies opportunities to lower costs and improve efficiencies.

In addition, the right MPS partner provides vendor monitoring, management and contract negotiation; change management and end-user training programs; utilization management; financial reporting; workflow efficiency management; as well as information systems integration, connectivity and document migration strategies.

MPS is a growing trend in healthcare because of its proven ability to support IT departments' goals, help solve device connectivity issues and deliver practical and interoperable solutions for the integration of the meaningful use of electronic medical records software products. With the right partner in place, MPS can save hospital IT departments' valuable resources, minimize headaches, assist in complying with federal mandates, secure data and accelerate the time it takes to transition to electronic medical records. Furthermore, MPS will centralize and reduce costs and optimize caregiver satisfaction. The outcome is a streamlined, cost-effective approach to achieving advanced, end-to-end interoperability among devices, technologies, workflow processes and people, thus helping to reach the strategic goals of a modern healthcare organization.

About the author:
Joseph J. Flynn is president and chief executive officer, Auxilio. For more information on Auxilio solutions: www.auxilioinc.com.

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