It’s well known in the industry that document management systems are widely used in healthcare. Healthcare organizations deal with a ton of different types of documents in their daily work. There are insurance cards, driver licenses, patient charts, treatment authorization forms and much more. A document management system (DMS) enables healthcare organizations to go paperless and improve work efficiency via an electronic document workflow. But, if not leveraged properly, document management systems can also be the source of frustrations. So, what are some critical elements practitioners should consider to maximize document management workflow success?
First, it’s important to note the healthcare industry is bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA. The act defines security guides and policy about information handling in the healthcare industry. This is to protect the privacy of patients. To get compatible with HIPAA, many healthcare organizations go for a DMS to manage related documents. Besides this, what are some other key features that all healthcare practices could leverage?
Use Barcodes for Automatic Document Tracking and Routing
Barcodes are an effective way to denote and track documents. You can batch scan documents with barcodes and save the documents into different groups based on the barcode content. For example, with a 1D barcode that stores the patient ID, a particular patient record can be routed automatically to the correct patient folder. You can also use barcodes to identify the clinician who is in charge of the particular patient and rout the related documents accordingly. Barcodes can automate document routing processes and greatly save time.
Use E-Signature to Speed up Workflow
Printing paper forms, getting patient signatures, and then scanning forms back into the system – it’s an antiquated paper-based process. It’s not just poor on efficiency, it’s also not environmentally friendly. By using e-signatures, combined with mobile access to a DMS, you can enable capturing signatures directly on a tablet. This can eliminate the need to print and re-scan documents. It can also speed up related approval processes.
Document Indexing – Use Metadata to Tag Documents
One can think of metadata of a document as behind-the-scenes information about a file. It is all the associated pieces of information that are stored in the DMS database. For example, patient ID, document type, doctor name, etc. Metadata can be both manually entered and automatically populated from barcodes or OCR (optical character recognition) technology. Manual metadata capture should be minimized. With documents tagged with metadata, you can then search and manage documents more easily and quickly. For example, if you want to find all patients under Dr. Jones or that use ACME Insurance, with proper tagging you can quickly pull up this list. Such use of metadata can vastly speed workflow.
Use One Central Document Repository to Store All Your Data
Don’t store an individual’s data in separated document repositories. Instead, store all kinds of documents – such as health, patient and financial documents – in one central repository. This way you can access all related information and see a complete patient record at a glance.
Security Features of Document Management for HIPAA Compliance
- Access Control: Unique user identification (required), Emergency access procedure (required), Automatic logoff (addressable), Encryption and decryption (addressable)
- Audit Controls: Record and examine activity in information systems (required)
- Integrity: Authenticate ePHI (addressable)
- Authentication (required): Procedure to verify a person or entity seeking access is who they claim
- Transmission Security: Information integrity controls (addressable), Information encryption (addressable)
HIPAA Security Rules – Technical Safeguards (Source: TrueVault)
Getting back to security, as mentioned, healthcare providers are bound by HIPAA. Your DMS needs to have the necessary security features to be HIPAA compatible. This helps prevent unauthorized interception or access to sensitive information. The data transferred over a network, whether public or internal, needs to be encrypted. So, make sure you don’t bypass any security protocols and even consider layering more on top.
These five features are but a small opportunity to better leverage your document management systems. Implementing them might noticeably improve your healthcare document and information handling for your practice. Outside of these features, be sure to tap into your users and get their feedback too for how your document management workflow might run even smoother.