Ultimate Enabling Technologies Behind Electronic Health Records [eBook series 1 of 6]
Most organizations continue to experience paperwork inefficiencies and the healthcare industry is arguably the top suffering sector for it. Thus, whether by regulation or not, healthcare organizations are more and more desperate for relief from paperwork via electronic health record (EHR) solutions. In this blog series, we will dissect the intricacies when navigating this field and how to get EHR satisfaction through a successful adoption process.
It’s no industry secret that the market for EHR solutions continues to face many challenges. But, the industry is also plugging away with increased EHR adoptions and modifications to improve the EHR experience. While the market for EHR vendors appears to be dominated by a handful of companies, there are apparently more than 1,000 vendors. These vendors provide a mix of application types and support.
Contrary to some opinions, paperwork alongside digital processes will continue into the foreseeable future and the use of paper remains as strong as ever too. It can be argued that a failure to understand and embrace this is why EHR adoption is struggling. Thus, EHR vendors would do well to embrace efficient image capture into their solutions. In addition, robust and established technologies are also vital. These include barcodes and optical character recognition (OCR). Tried-and-true technologies can bridge this gap and help fuel EHR comfort and adoption. With the advent of things like EHR, natural language processing and other advances, technology continues to show itself to be a benefit to the healthcare profession. For these reasons, leveraging existing technologies people are familiar with can help remove adoption barriers. So, what does this mean?
1. The Scan Component
Healthcare organizations deal with a ton of different types of documents in their daily work. These include insurance cards, driver licenses, patient charts, treatment authorization forms and much more. Inefficient paperwork and digital processes have been cited as being at the heart of defocusing care providers from delivering great service to patients. It’s worse when you also consider the required sharing of documentation between third-party service providers.
According to the American Hospital Association, paperwork adds at least 30 minutes to every hour of patient care provided. And according to a 2011 global survey by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, healthcare consumers feel paperwork is wasteful in many countries.
In the UK, 53% feel redundant paperwork in the system is a cause of wasted spending. In Portugal, it’s 67 percent; Germany 65%; France 53%. Of the 10 countries surveyed, 8 rated paperwork as the most wasted spending on their healthcare system. The remaining two countries rated paperwork the second most wasteful item.
It’s well known in the industry that document management systems are widely used in healthcare. The continued explosion of paper documents in health care is what has grown the emergence of the EHR in the first place. An EHR with a good document capture feature enables healthcare organizations to reduce paper use, thereby improving work efficiency.
With such systems, digitization of paper documents is proving to be vital in lowering administration costs. But, if not leveraged properly, an EHR can also be the source of frustrations. It’s critical that any document/image capture solution be implemented in a way that adds efficiency in managing digital health records. So, the first important technology is the simple ability to easily scan and capture paper documents to use them as digital assets.
2. Importance of Barcodes in Healthcare
It is well known that the use of barcode technology helps improve workflow and efficiency. This is true across a myriad of industries, but in the medical field, it can also help save lives.
The use of barcodes in healthcare markets has been advocated going all the way back to the 1970s. For decades, the healthcare industry has been a leading adopter of barcode technology.
According to a post on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, it’s been reported that in hospitals alone more than 7,000 deaths each year are medication related. So, the FDA proposed a rule requiring bar codes on certain drug and biological product labels. This was to make sure drug dosage and administration could be more accurately administered to the correct patients at the appropriate time.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has emphasized a high priority on using barcode technology to reduce medical errors for better patient safety. The technology has helped eliminate many human errors. For example, the US Department of Health and Human Services has stated the use of barcodes has reduced medication error rates by as much as 85%.
According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, barcode technology is helping a lot. The article documented a study of error rates in medication administration compare before and after barcode technology was used. The use of barcode technology provided a 41.4% relative reduction in errors. Healthcare IT News recently referenced a report stating that processing prescriptions through a computerized provider order entry can cut drug errors in half and could avoid more than 17 million adverse incidents annually.
As a result, dispensing medication nowadays largely relies on Bar-coded Medication Administration (BCMA) systems. It’s arguable that no other industry has benefited more from barcode technology than healthcare. Also, it’s likely no one has more at stake than healthcare practitioners if barcode technology is improperly implemented. In healthcare, it’s a vital technology to get it correct.