By Rob Wiley, head of marketing and product strategy, Formstack.
If you’re in healthcare, it’s likely because you have a passion for helping others and solving problems. Those on the IT side of the industry are no exception. Healthcare IT has seen a significant shift from navigating health records in a paper-based system to the digitization of health data—and for good reason.
There are many benefits to digital transformation in the health industry. For one, administrative costs alone in healthcare account for nearly $266 billion per year. By transferring records like medical forms and insurance verification paperwork to a secure electronic platform, healthcare providers can save on administrative spending and put those funds into more impactful areas. Additionally, the digitization of health data streamlines communication between all levels of the healthcare process: from physicians to patients and insurance companies.
But the digitization of health data also comes with challenges that healthcare IT professionals must solve—most notably around the implications of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, patient engagement and employee empowerment.
Rules and regulations in healthcare are ever-changing, and health providers and practices are expected to stay up-to-date and comply. Ensuring your company maintains compliance and data stays secure begins with your healthcare IT team. Not only does compliance protect your company from stiff penalties and violations, it also safeguards the protected health information (PHI) of customers and partners.
Consider this: A patient is asked to share interest in an elective surgery and decides to opt out. If this document confirming their disinterest in the surgery is stored insecurely using a paper file, this puts the patient’s trust at risk of being breached, and in turn, the decision to opt out of the procedure at risk of being dishonored. Meanwhile, storing this information in a secure, electronic file would reduce the risk associated with data breaches and the file being lost or misread. With a strong IT team following HIPAA guidelines, your practice can stay safe from violations and accidental exposure of sensitive records in the digital world of healthcare.
The digital transformation of healthcare doesn’t just impact the backend of business; it also affects patient experience and how practices are represented to future customers and partners. Healthcare IT professionals have to consider how digitization impacts the user experience and the ease of electronic communication between patient and practitioner. Here are seven important questions healthcare IT teams should ask themselves when evaluating their current digital network and any future improvements:
- What systems are patients interacting with when preparing for or during the visit?
- How easy is it for patients to provide information to their health provider?
- How long does it take for the patient to fill out the intake documentation?
- Are patients required to enter duplicate information anywhere?
- Is the process convenient for the patient? Are they able to complete the information when and where they would like?
- Is there an option to sign electronically and securely?
- Does the patient receive copies of their documents for their own record keeping?
Healthcare IT professionals should consider the answers to these questions to determine the top changes they need to make to their digital system in order to improve patient experience and, ultimately, increase the number of patients they serve.
As an IT professional, it’s your job to provide others with the tools and processes they need to be most productive at their jobs, creating a better workplace for employees, customers and partners. In a complicated industry like healthcare, where there are many moving parts at once, it’s important to give employees trusted tools they can use independently to complete their everyday tasks. IT departments add incremental value by empowering departments and employees to devise their own genius solutions for automating repetitive work, without needing IT interference on a day-to-day basis.
Digitization in healthcare is here, and it’s bringing many benefits, as well as new challenges, to the industry. In order to capitalize on the potential this transition brings, it’s up to IT professionals to prepare by securing and monitoring the digital world of health services, ensuring compliance to HIPAA regulations, prioritizing patient experience and empowering employees with the most effective digital tools.