Guest post by Aaron Weiss, Director of Marketing for HP LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions.
A variety of factors influence the success of healthcare organizations. From quality patient care to well-trained staff and the ability for administrative professionals to work efficiently, healthcare organizations must be able to provide patient care affordably, quickly and thoroughly.
Healthcare IT professionals can support their organizations by investing in and implementing technology that helps employees provide a positive patient experience. Although we typically think of improvements to the patient experience as outward-facing, like providing thorough medication information, scheduling appointments efficiently and friendly staff, adopting the right technology for “behind the counter” tasks can improve the patient experience exponentially.
Healthcare IT professionals should invest in cloud-based document management solutions and streamlined hardware and software that allow administrative employees, nurses and doctors to work quickly and comprehensively with access to forms, medication information and patient data where and when they need it. When a healthcare organization’s employees are able to work with accuracy and focus on patients, the patient experience, in turn, improves. Patients then receive the responsiveness and care they need when asking questions about medications, ailments and making follow-up appointments.
Here are three strategies healthcare IT professionals should use to simplify daily processes and focus on patient service:
Tip 1: Focus on patients, not paperwork – Administrative professionals working in healthcare organizations are tasked with completing a number of jobs throughout each day. They’re often responsible for managing patient files, filing medication information, setting up patient appointments, making patient follow-up calls, sharing invoices with both patients and insurance providers and more. Additionally, administrative professionals are also the first face a patient sees and the last person they speak to following an appointment. Thus, the ability of not only doctors and nurses to leave a positive impact on a patient’s experience is important, but an administrative employee’s thoroughness and attentiveness also has an impact on patient experience.
Takeaway for healthcare IT professionals: Healthcare IT professionals should look to the cloud for streamlining administrative processes. By using the cloud to file and update documents like invoices, forms, prescription/medication information and nurse schedules, administrative professionals can free their time to focus on quality service for patients.
When investing in a cloud solution, healthcare IT professionals should consider features including optical character recognition (OCR), document indexing and powerful search engine, plus audit trail logging capabilities and a cloud subscription model.
Cloud document management solutions that include OCR technology allow scanned images to be read and the text in the image is indexed and saved for later searches. In addition, OCR technology allows users to not only find a document by its filename or tags that might have been added, but actually search the full text of a document to find what the user is looking for, allowing healthcare professionals to search for content within uploaded cloud documents.
This feature can also be used to provide patients with valuable information about their ailment and treatment. If your practice has an online repository of medical and health documents and articles, the healthcare professional could simply type “diabetes” into the search engine and find all of the health news articles and pamphlets that mention diabetes, its cause and even dietary steps without having to know the names of all of these documents. They can then be printed out for the patient to take with them. Although the use of this technology is simple, the need for accessing documents quickly and easily, but also securely, is essential during a healthcare professional’s day-to-day tasks.
For tracking when and how invoices and forms are updated, IT professionals should utilize a cloud service that offers audit trail logging capabilities. This feature allows administrative employees and supervisors to record and track all activity associated with every file stored on the cloud. Messy doctor’s notes and inaccurately recorded information will no longer be an issue—employees can simply track every change made in a form or document, allowing them to easily catch mistakes and view updates.
Lastly, adopting a cloud solution, whether it’s a document management solution or another service, is often best implemented with a cost-effective subscription model. This allows growing healthcare organizations to scale their cloud usage based on need. The organization will only pay for the amount of cloud storage that they need, and can assign and pay for the professionals within the organization that require access. In turn, this reduces costs and eliminates the need for purchasing additional software.
When these types of cloud solutions and features are used within a healthcare organization, employees can focus on improving the patient experience through quality service. Plus, managing data and workflows becomes significantly easier.
Tip 2: Invest in hardware and software that integrate seamlessly – When purchasing technology for “behind the counter” in a doctor’s office or large hospital, employees need technology that integrates seamlessly. Whether that’s printing easily from a mobile device or tablet, uploading forms that have been scanned or pulling and printing forms or documents that are stored in the cloud, it’s essential that devices can connect, making processes like updating patient documents and printing faster. Again, this allows for more focus on patient questions, answering patient phone calls and overall improved patient service.
Takeaway for healthcare IT professionals: According to a recent study, 81 percent of healthcare organizations are collecting, storing and transmitting some form of protected health information (PHI) via mobile devices. In instances where healthcare organizations are looking to adopt mobile technology, IT professionals should be especially aware of how software, hardware and mobile apps and solutions integrate. For example, when purchasing a multi-function printer (MFP), one that can be used to print, copy and scan, your MFP should work seamlessly with your cloud solution and any mobile applications the organization is using. This allows healthcare professionals to scan to the cloud, search for documents in the cloud and even print those documents or forms from the cloud—if the MFP offers touchscreen capabilities—while at the printer.
Thus, cloud components, hardware and software should be optimized to work together. Without adequate hardware and software integration, technology can fall short of expectations and a healthcare organization’s needs.
Tip 3: Ensure secure patient data – Although keeping patient data secure is not an outward-facing obligation, it’s an important responsibility for healthcare professionals to securely handle patient information, and healthcare IT professionals to provide secure technology. Patients may not consciously think of the security of their personal information when they reflect on their experience at a healthcare provider, but it’s an essential aspect of providing quality patient care.
Takeaway for healthcare IT professionals: Sharing PHI securely is a top priority for healthcare organizations, and there can be legal ramifications for handling this information incorrectly. Healthcare IT professionals should look for cloud solutions that provide features for transferring patient information securely and for protecting the organization legally.
In the case of PHI, following HIPAA requirements is a necessity; however, even in those instances where your office is not storing PHI data in the cloud and HIPAA is not required, it is important to consider keeping business data safe and secure. Look for cloud solutions that encrypt your data during transmission as well as at rest, when stored in the cloud. Encryption in transfer and at rest at 256-Bit AES will safeguard your data but also make sure the data centers holding your data are secure. The cloud provider should provide multiple secure physical locations that are protected 24/7 by onsite security including electronic access control, biometrics, dedicated cages and video monitoring. These locations should undergo annual third-party audits. Also look for providers that meet certain compliance, like SSAE16/SOC2. The purpose of a SOC 2 report is to evaluate information systems as they relate to security, availability, confidentiality and privacy.
Adopting cloud solutions, software and hardware that allows healthcare professionals to focus on patient care and relationship management is essential to the success of the organization. These technologies help healthcare professionals concentrate on their primary focus—their patients—and work efficiently.
Aaron Weiss is the director of marketing for LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions in the Printing and Personal Systems Group of Hewlett-Packard Company. Aaron’s organization is responsible for driving the product and marketing strategy for a portfolio of document management, workflow, capture, mobility, security and fleet management solutions targeting the SMB and enterprise customer segments.