Guest post by Christopher Downs, vice president, information services, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Printing is like electricity – when it works, no one really notices it. They only notice it when it’s not working.
Think about it. Quality communication is a cornerstone of delivering excellent patient care. Almost every department in a healthcare organization relies on their printers to provide instructions and information that are vital to a patient’s health. So, when the printing environment is offline or ineffective, it has a real impact on how healthcare is controlled and delivered.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our motto is to deliver “care that never quits,” meaning we place our patients and their caregivers first and foremost in every action and decision that we make. As such, we rely on our technology systems to be seamless, secure and reliable so that we can deliver on our motto.
The Importance of Printing
When a patient arrives at any one of our six treatment centers, he or she receives a personalized booklet providing details regarding his or her treatment schedule. Over the course of a stay, patients will receive additional documents such as prescriptions, post-surgery instructions, discharge summaries and insurance information, just to name a few. Administrative departments also generate and print reports, spreadsheets and presentations that are essential to hospital business functions.
All in all, approximately 90 percent of CTCA’s 5,000 employees rely on printers, printing roughly 30 million pages annually. That means, on average, our employees print more than 82,000 pages per day across the network.
These statistics hold true across the industry. So how can healthcare organizations handle the pressure of managing this important process?
I’d like to walk you through the solution that’s worked best for us – HP Managed Print Services (MPS).
A good MPS program goes well beyond the simple management of the overall print environment. At CTCA, we were looking for a trusted advisor and partner who could help us transform the way we viewed printing. HP’s MPS offering delivers a three-pronged approach to do just that: optimize the print infrastructure, manage the print environment and improve workflow processes.
Optimize Your Infrastructure
For any business, it is important to understand the functional needs and printing behaviors of employees before selecting a fleet of devices. Without identifying and analyzing these needs, you are likely throwing money away that could be used on other core business investments.
What if I told you that you could have three devices in your office that could meet the printing needs of your entire staff? HP helped us consolidate many functions, such as faxing, printing, scanning and copying into cost-efficient multifunction printers (MFPs), and through a detailed analysis of our print infrastructure, helped us make sure we had the right mix of devices placed across the network to meet the specific needs of our individual hospitals. In turn, we saved approximately $200,000 annually on hardware and supplies costs, allowing us to reinvest those savings into other facets of our business.
There is more to optimization than meets the eye. It is more than just cost savings. For healthcare organizations, it is especially important to take advantage of the security solutions offered through managed print services. Keeping protected health information (PHI) private is a necessity, and there are a number of things you can do to make sure documents sent to the printer are secure. For example, invest in secure pull printing. This is a feature that requires users to authenticate print jobs at the printer – through proximity badges, PIN codes or other authentication methods – ensuring sensitive documents do not sit unattended.
Manage Your Environment
The next step is managing the print environment and ensuring it is functioning in an optimal manner. With HP managed print services, HP is responsible for oversight of the printing infrastructure freeing internal IT staff to concentrate on other tasks, such as EHR or CPOE implementations.
The goal at CTCA is 100 percent uptime for its devices – meaning printers should never be out of service for more than a couple of hours. With HP MPS, if a device breaks or supplies are running low, an HP service technician will come directly to the hospital to examine and fix the problem. Our IT staff has saved an estimated 2,000 hours annually and we recognized a 90 percent reduction in help desk tickets related to printers – all because HP manages our print environment for us.
One of the biggest benefits of our MPS engagement: quarterly business reviews. As an information management buff, I love seeing detailed usage reports to help me fully understand and gain visibility into the usage patterns of our printing fleet. These reports show what printers are used more than others, which ones require more troubleshooting, where we may be under or over utilizing certain devices, and other details that help us truly reach full optimization. For example, in one specific review, CTCA was able to save approximately $15,000 annually just by switching off the color printing option on a device that did not need to support color printing. Without the usage reports, we would never have realized the potential for cost savings and efficiency.
Improve Your Workflow
The final step of the MPS implementation is workflow improvements. For healthcare organizations to run smoothly, they must rely on the seamless flow of critical information, whether that is in paper or digital form. Documents are sent to healthcare providers from many different sources, in many different forms, making information management a labor intensive job.
Workflow solutions can help automate, digitize and streamline paper intensive business processes, helping lower costs, reduce IT staff time and lessen the probability of human error.
In the case of CTCA, we use our fleet of HP MFPs as a digital on-ramp to correspond directly with our EHR system. When patients bring in hard copy medical records, we scan them into our Allscripts medical record system, which receives paper and electronic documents from other healthcare providers and merges all the documents into its digital workflows. As a result, records can be easily viewed online and shared directly with insurance providers.
Choose a Partner, Not a Vendor
Vendor relationships are generally all about business, but it is important that the company you choose is more than just a vendor. Make sure they understand your personality and your goals as an organization. Treat the vendor relationship like a partnership, with mutual respect and trust. Bumps in the road are inevitable, but with a strong partner, you can more effectively handle these issues if and when they arise.
We are very pleased with the results from our partnership with HP. Every healthcare organization should consider investing in a managed print services agreement and reaping the rewards. I, for one, would recommend HP.
Christopher Downs is the vice president of information services for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Downs has been in the information systems industry for more than 20 years.