Creating new efficiencies with referral and medical records management

Referrals and medical records management staff members are overwhelmed with paper and manual processes. While technology can reduce the workload, expedite the process, be the catalyst for better care and potentially create more opportunities for additional referrals, how do you justify the capital investment needed for a digital transformation?

Start by addressing these challenges.

3 challenges of referral and medical records management

A broken process results in three key issues.

1. Lost Productivity

  • The process of capturing and scanning any medical record into a repository is often manual, paper-based and inefficient, essentially applying the brakes on productivity.
  • Additional unstructured documents associated with radiology, laboratory, pharmacology and consultations continue to aggregate during the patient stay, adding to the bulk of the hard chart.
  • These documents pile up while waiting to be scanned to make them accessible to clinicians during the patient’s stay, which can negatively affect the outcome.

2. Patient risk

  • Limited checks and balances to eliminate human error often lead to the capture of incomplete records.
  • Patients may be admitted without proper medical review, which potentially affects health outcomes and satisfaction.

3. Escalating costs and reduced profitability

  • Missing information that often leads to readmission.
  • Delays in communicating to a referral source also impact the patient experience and could prevent the opportunity for a patient admission.
  • At discharge, the entire hard chart is broken down for archiving, adding to ever-growing facility or offsite storage costs.
  • Profitability is affected by escalating operational costs associated with the manual capture and storage of unstructured medical records and the escalating cost to store these physical records after discharge.
  • Retrieval of any document from these storage sites is often an unsuccessful time sink, and may have an impact on compliance.

Modernizing with digital transformation

Supporting staff through automation can positively impact productivity, profitability, patient outcomes and referral opportunities. Productivity improves with business process automation of paper-based, manual processes that provide new efficiencies with accountability. You can also use the time you save to calculate the labor cost savings to complete those tasks.

Depending on the volumes processed and the cost for the labor, the efficiencies and savings recognized at the facility-level will aggregate across all care centers to provide a substantial financial benefit for the enterprise. Just as important, you can redirect the time saved to complete more meaningful tasks for the facility and enterprise.

With time-saving business process automation and the reduction of storage costs to archive the physical chart, you improve profitability. Potentially, if done correctly, you can completely eliminate the hard chart while still maintaining a longitudinal view of the clinical content electronically. (This is the topic of my next post: Delivering a paperless clinical environment for improved patient care.)

Embracing a digital transformation strategy will save time and allow you to make better decisions, faster. Customer value improves with the potential for better patient care and more timely communications with referral sources and payers.

5 ways to measure success

Adopting best practices for capture, storage and retrieval creates new efficiencies. This also improves accountability.

Notable time savings observed with digital transformation for a post-acute care provider include:

1. Admission process

  • Greater than 75 percent improved efficiency when compared to prior processes necessary to capture and upload content to the previously used repository.
  • 90 percent time savings observed for electronic documentation review for the business office, clinical management team and admissions team.

2. Scanning ancillary documents and hard chart breakdown

  • 56 percent fewer ‘clicks’ to upload documents.
  • 68 percent time savings for managing documents.

3. Compliance

  • Compliance improves with the ability to retrieve content that is not native to the EMR for an additional document request, review of medical necessity or legal considerations.
  • Retrieval of any stored document is near instant and easily recalled by patient, document type, date, facility or any combination of these criteria.
  • The ability to generate reports to analyze information versus looking up each patient to review information results in an average time savings of more than an hour.

4. Electronic archival

  • Eliminate the labor intensive and often failed search of boxes in a storage facility.

5. Access

  • Staff can now view documents from any location and quickly offer solutions or advice without incurring travel time or the need for paper scans between parties.

Go digital to create efficiencies

Modernizing your healthcare organization with a digital transformation strategy provides the opportunity to leverage best-practice solutions across all care centers. This creates new efficiencies with accountability for all automated tasks.

Productivity, profitability and value to your patients and their referral sources all benefit – improving the experience for everyone involved.

* This blog post was originally published by McKnight’s.

Scott Magers

Scott Magers

As the Account Manager of Post-Acute Care for Hyland, Scott Magers PT, MBA brings more than 20 years of experience in outpatient physical therapy, home health care and most recently in skilled nursing facilities. He has served on many collaborative committees between hospitals and post-acute care (PAC) organizations seeking best practice for transfer of care, care coordination and collaboration. His goal is to share these experiences and build on the OnBase platform to showcase the power of enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM) and records management to help PAC providers automate paper-based processes to improve efficiencies, quality of care, and patient outcomes.

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