Xeroxby David Pritts, Xerox

Every industry is affected by technological advancements and the healthcare industry is no different. Healthcare providers – small and large – see the value in implementing technology and are continuing to explore ways to use it to improve operations, boost patient data security and meet industry regulations.  

The market is full of new technologies for healthcare providers to choose from, yet many don’t know where to start or what to implement to get the best return on investment. In my opinion, starting from the root of the data – paper – is where providers need to turn their attention. Healthcare-specific document and workflow management solutions have the ability to significantly evolve and improve operations to enhance care coordination, security and patient satisfaction.  

The Future of Digital Healthcare  

Our society is becoming more digital by the day and consumers are demanding that companies – no matter the industry – adapt to today’s digitally focused lifestyle. When it comes to healthcare, some providers are still stuck in the past. Previously, when a provider had to share patient health records with other providers they relied on fax or mail, but now they can use technology to keep personal patient data secure. If you don’t think you should be concerned about healthcare information, think again. In fact, the Sixth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data by the Ponemon Institute found that 90 percent of healthcare organizations reported suffering from a data breach during the last two years.  

Doctors’ offices need to adjust and adapt to the times and start using workflow management technology and hardware to securely digitize and share healthcare information and diagnoses with not only patients, but other providers. The 2017 Xerox eHealth survey found that more than three quarters of respondents believe it would be better to share information between providers through a secure electronic method rather than faxing paper documents. If providers don’t modify their exchange processes, they run the risk of losing patients.  

Electronic portals are becoming more common and are an easy way for medical providers to collect patient information directly from a patient’s bedside, or without having them fill out the same medical questionnaires at each visit. Think about how much time would be saved if a doctor was able to access information and records from another provider to diagnose the patient faster.  

Using digital technology like online portals and the cloud to transfer patient records in a compliant and secure way can be personalized to fit within the existing IT infrastructure of any provider – no matter the size. Such solutions can improve workflows, provide efficiency and quicken the pace of information exchange to ultimately boost patient experience. Additionally, patients can trust that their private information is being shared in a compliant manner and physicians can provide better outcomes due to improved care coordination.  

Streamlining Internal Workflows 

Just like doctors, nurses and medical staff, patients also have busy lives. Waiting around for medical bills and even more important materials such as test results and medical records is inconvenient. Outdated processes keep patients waiting for days or even weeks for a phone call with their test results, affecting not only satisfaction, but possibly their health.   

With the help of workflow automation solutions, portals on healthcare printers and other office technologies, workers can easily submit and share information and test results to the correct department for processing – cutting out days of waiting to improve efficiency. Old workflow processes involve manual, paper-based, and time-consuming administrative tasks that are error-prone and inefficient. Workflow automation solutions built for the healthcare industry can eliminate these and improve accuracy, which in turn speeds up processes and helps patients lead happier and healthier lives.  

It’s time for old workflow patterns to undergo a drastic makeover – for the sake of healthcare staff and their patients. Bettering communications and interactions will only lead to higher levels of patient satisfaction. 

 Activating Your Digitization 

Before jumping head first into implementing new technology or solutions, there are a few steps that IT decision makers must take to successfully choose and deploy successful solutions. 

 1. Analysis – Providers must first understand their current technology landscape before they start to think about implementing new solutions. Take a look at the technology in the practice to begin to identify areas of opportunity. Analyze existing technology closely as an employee would to understand where it stands, and to determine the needs and goals. 

2. Employees are key – In order to understand the full scope of opportunity, it’s best to talk to the employees who use the technology day in and day out. They live the processes and can shed light on bottlenecks and identify specific workflows and technologies that need to be improved upon. 

 3. Understand patient frustration – These new solutions not only affect employees, but they impact patient engagement. Therefore, it’s important to talk to patients to understand their concerns and see what they would like improved, because without happy patients a practice would not exist.  

4. Do your research, but don’t do it alone – Once you figure out what you want and need, it’s important to do your research before partnering with a vendor. With that being said, it’s critical to bring employees in for hands-on training since they are the ones interacting with the technology on a daily basis. When researching options, providers should focus on finding an agile vendor that can personalize a solution or technology to meet specific workflows. As the practice grows and regulations change, so must the solutions, and it’s imperative that the technology can adjust and evolve with the times. 

5. Ongoing analysis – Once a solution or technology is implemented, the work isn’t done. Ongoing check-ins with employees will uncover adjustments that need to be made along the way. Getting feedback is important so you can fine-tune the solutions or technology to ensure employees are getting the most out of it.  

It’s clear there is large opportunity for technology to disrupt the healthcare industry. New and innovative digital advancements can adhere to current regulations, easing patient anxiety and saving valuable time for busy practitioners. Digitizing information, transferring records and reducing wait time with improved workflows can now be handled with solutions that are both simple and secure. Once the way providers work has been transformed, patients will begin to reap the rewards.  

David Pritts is VP, Healthcare Industry, Xerox

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Workflow.