The healthcare industry faces enormous challenges, including rapidly changing regulatory, financial and technical issues. Electronic medical records systems help in addressing these challenges, but organisations should also consider electronic content management solutions for even greater improvements in practices and processes.
Skyrocketing costs, historic regulatory changes, patient demands for instant access to their records, GDPR and freedom of information concerns, bureaucracy and security concerns all help define the current healthcare industry landscape. In recent years countless medical organisations – from small practices to major hospitals – have implemented electronic medical record (EMR) solutions to replace inefficient, paper-based practices.
The challenges: the pressure on healthcare organisations today is unprecedented
For decades, the industry has faced persistent and growing criticism about costs and organisations are constantly being pushed to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies. At the same time, providers are continually looking for ways to improve the quality of – and access to – patient care and the information associated with it. This is particularly challenging in an era of patient rights, ubiquitous online connectivity and the information expectations driven by social media and freedom of information. Patients are more knowledgeable than ever before, and are demanding greater participation in their healthcare decisions. Complicating these challenges still further are new and evolving technological advances such as mobile, cloud, and analytics, which healthcare organisations need to embrace in order to remain competitive.
The solution: Joining ECM and EMR
Countless medical providers are implementing EMR systems as one obvious way to cope with challenges of modern medicine. At the level of individual organisations, practices are benefitting from cost efficiencies and enhanced patient services by digitising their medical records. However, healthcare practices do not run on medical records alone, and EMRs were not designed to handle the broader range of enterprise information that supports these businesses. For example, standalone EMRs are insufficient for reducing operational costs, ensuring full compliance with mandates and guidelines, or improving patient outcomes and engagement. This is where electronic content management (ECM) solutions can provide important functionality such as:
• Capturing and creating content in a wide variety of formats, including paper and electronic documents, email, and images.
• Organising information with metadata which is used for indexing and classifying documents.
• Enabling collaboration using information that is easily located and shared.
• Expediting the search and retrieval of documents for enhanced business processes and better patient services.
• Supporting publication and delivery of documents.
Why ECM is vital for healthcare success
Healthcare is an information-intensive industry – and not just as a result of the myriad types of documents, charts, images, and other data directly related to a patient’s health; for example, email and web content, instant messaging, policy procedures, and financial reports all need to be considered. Because a lot of patient information often comes from external sources paper remains a significant part of the overall mix. Healthcare, as a heavily regulated industry, also produces voluminous policies, reports, and performance measurements. Healthcare providers also must adhere to mandates for data security which, if violated, can result in significant penalties. These organisations clearly need systems that will help them securely store and manage regulatory documents.
Additionally, medical organisations are at the forefront of ‘big data’ trends. ECM can help organisations to aggregate all content types for both their business processes and the benefit of their patients, including scanned images, email, imaging files, and financial data. ECM can pull data from diverse information systems, such as radiology and laboratory, to establish a single repository where content can be accessed and cross-referenced. The result is a single point of access to an all-inclusive patient record.
Implementing an effective ECM solution
By deploying an ECM system alongside other line-of-business applications, including EMRs, healthcare organisations gain a strategic hub for managing all content that flows through the enterprise. Key benefits include:
• Centralised storage with enhanced security for all information, including patient records.
• Business process agility that can lead to productivity gains and cost savings.
• Enhanced compliance, throughout all departments, with all regulatory guidelines.
• Faster access to patient information, potentially leading to improved patient outcomes, better patient engagement, and better access to critical information across the care continuum.
• A notable ROI from an ECM investment, with most hospitals reporting a full return on their ECM investment within 18 months of implementation.
Incorporating many benefits, and rapid return on the investment, ECM deployments can provide core systems that will allow healthcare organisations to tackle the challenges facing the industry in the coming years.
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