Medical practices require document management to keep files easily accessible at all times. This means collecting patient information and archiving and digitizing original paper files. Beyond storage, today’s document management programs offer other features such as indexing, search functions, and security to small- and medium-sized healthcare centers.
Investing in document management is a worthwhile gesture that shows patients how serious a business is about confidential information. It is also the law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), drafted in 1996, requires certain forms of security and privacy regarding patients’ medical files. There are two parts to the law, privacy and security. “A major goal of the security rule is to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information while allowing covered entities to adopt new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care,” as cited from the United States Department of Health & Human Services’ Web site.
Document management is one of these new technologies. Implementing it means healthcare providers can move away from juggling mounds of paper and focus on what they do best, care for patients. There are many types of data that can be filed and stored, but still remain searchable with the help of a document management solution.
Abe Niedzwiekcki, VP technology, Cabinet NG, suggests breaking down what is commonly captured by patient, practice, and personnel categories. Patient files include personal health information, registration, clinical, and insurance documents and data. Practice files financial records, credentials, administrative policies, and procedures. Personnel consists of employee records.
Playing the Field
Technology has a significant impact on the healthcare field from advancements in machinery that help detect illness to office equipment solutions that manage the backend. With multiple segments, it’s difficult to keep track of how each component is affected and to what length.
James Thumma, VP of sales/marketing services, DocFinity, points out just how large the industry is. “Healthcare is made up of payers, providers, suppliers, and patients. If you think about it from a size standpoint, it is an enormous industry. Behind the scenes healthcare has always been driven by documents of all shapes and sizes that are passed back and forth between the players in tremendous volumes,” he explains.
Productivity increases across all segments when document management is implemented. “Document management’s direct impact to the healthcare field, specifically smaller practices, is the cost savings associated with the reduction in storage and the need for less man hours to focus on manual entry. With document management software in place, all documents become electronic formats, which are easier for companies to archive and find,” shares Carmela Wong, VP of marketing, ABBYY USA.
This technology frees up manual labor and allows it to be transferred to good use in the form of patient care. “Healthcare providers, payers, researchers, and pharmaceutical developers can devote more human and financial resources to the core mission of those operations. Digitizing data enables greater insight into and control over operations across the organization, greater ability to ensure compliance with internal protocols and external authorities, and the ability to respond to inquiries quickly,” adds Robert Zoch, marketing communications specialist, Brainware, Inc.
More importantly, document management secures confidential records. “Document management accelerates the patient visit process and reduces the risk of personal information being compromised. If used for patient charts, it also eliminates the problem of locating the chart across multiple departments and locations. Having access anytime/anywhere to patient data is critical to quality patient care,” comments Niedzwiekcki.
Document Management Streams Efficiency
Document management provides medical practices with an efficient way to conduct business. Included below are solutions from providers mentioned in this article. All combine traditional document management tendencies—storage and archive—with fine-tuned features such as indexing, searchability, monitoring, and tracking.
ABBYY’s FineReader increases productivity by providing accurate capture/recognition in an easy to use interface. Documents are converted into searchable and editable formats supported by PDF and PDF/A. Security settings include passwords, encryption, and redaction. The ABBYY Recognition Server coverts large volumes of documents while simultaneously providing an ease of use in the install and user interface for small companies with little IT help. The solution helps users create searchable and accessible digital archives. ABBYY FlexiCapture is a standalone or server-based solution that captures data to allow small businesses to automate processes by converting paper-based documents into ready-to-use data. Some of these documents include invoices, contracts, survey forms, and explanation of benefits.
Brainware is on the higher end of the spectrum, catering to the largest of the medium-sized businesses. However, the company is migrating the product to a cloud-based platform, which makes it more accessible to smaller operations. With Brainware Distiller, users can stop wasting time trying to locate paper documents. It minimizes costly errors commonly found in manual data keying as well.
CNG-SAFE from Cabinet NG combines document management, content management, and workflow. As a centralized repository, all documents are accessed and managed, eliminating the inefficiencies of documents scattered across file cabinets, shared drives, and local hard drives. Its ease of use allows most users to deploy the software directly out of the box. Built-in tracking and reporting is included to monitor what is going on and who is using it within the system.
DocFinity’s core model includes features such as scanning, indexing, searching, versioning, and viewing.