Use ECM to manage all your content, not just clinical

Over the course of the last few years, I have reviewed many requests for proposals for electronic document and records management (EDRM) systems from healthcare providers – mostly English NHS Trusts. A common factor in these has been an emphasis on clinical functionality, with much of the business case being built on the digitisation of patient records. Corporate document management is often only included as a side note, with one or two questions out of two to three hundred.

This diminishes the importance of corporate document management, and sidelines significant opportunities for cost reductions and efficiency improvements.

When a healthcare provider is purchasing an electronic document management system, the first thought is usually on the digitisation of patient records. But there are many other benefits, including the costs you eliminate when you cancel that huge warehouse lease; the safety improvements you gain through clinicians being able to see the whole picture of the patient’s history; and the governance headaches you remove by being able to control the access and circulation of records.

Think enterprise-wide

But de-emphasising the value of document management in a corporate setting can lead to purchasing a clinical document management system, rather than an enterprise system. That, in turn, leads to a situation where corporate records are either managed by a separate system, or are simply left stranded on paper because of the cost of procuring and owning a separate system.

All avoidable by understanding the advantages of an enterprise system, and structuring the procurement accordingly.

There are a number of quick-win areas where corporate document management will improve efficiency, reduce costs, and support compliance initiatives. These would be effective starting points for a corporate document management programme:

  • Policy & Procedure Compliance

Better manage the version control, distribution, and reading compliance of corporate policies and standard operating procedures. Being able to manage reading compliance of policies and procedures is an essential component of compliance with quality, security, and safety standards.

  • Human Resource Document Management

Streamline and automate your job requisition, recruitment, and employee onboarding processes that take place outside of the electronic staff record system.

  • Meeting Agenda & Minutes Distribution & Publication

Meeting packets can run to hundreds of sides of A4. When you create the entire packet electronically, the savings on the cost of printing, packaging and distributing these physically is immediately recognisable at board level.

Use a single platform

Robust enterprise content management (ECM) systems offer clinical and corporate content management from a single software stack and manage content from a single enterprise-wide repository. True ECM is not limited to any particular department or process, and brings the same improvements to administrative, financial, and compliance functions as it does to clinical functions.

I’ve been working in ECM (and its synonyms and associated acronyms: EDM, EDRM, and even BPM) for over 25 years. I’ve spent most of that time in health, housing, and social care, and I’ve seen the process improvements that you can make once you have your content under control.

Manage all your content

My advice to customers embarking on an ECM procurement would be to make sure the system that you invest in is capable of managing all of your content, not just the clinical content. To customers who already have made an investment in ECM technology, I’d say, “Take a look at your software stack. Are you exploiting it to the full? Is it working as hard as it can for you? Where else can you apply it to get the maximum return on your investment?”

The creation of Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs) in the English NHS presents an opportunity to address these questions. Four of the new STPs have been selected as pathfinders for back-office consolidation. The NHS Improvement body estimates that the savings from back office consolidation and optimisation could be as great as £350m over the next four years.

In fact, in 2010, by bringing the NHS organisations whose back-office spend was above average back to the then-average spend, it would have saved the NHS £616m, according to the UK Department of Health’s Quality Innovation Performance & Productivity (QIPP) report. The report made specific recommendations on savings for Acute, Mental Health, Ambulance, and Primary Care Trusts as well as for health commissioning bodies (the report pre-dated the establishment of Clinical Commissioning Groups).

Since 2010, we have seen the demise of Primary Care Trusts, their replacement by Clinical Commissioning Groups, and more recently the beginning of what look like US-Style Accountable Care Organisations where providers, CCGs, and local authorities take collaborative responsibility for the healthcare needs of their population without a purchaser-provider split.

Moving forward means using less to do more. That’s why you need to think about single platforms that can span your entire enterprise.

Steve Rudland has worked in the enterprise software industry since 1993, specialising in information sharing, process management, and collaboration technologies; specifically, their application in healthcare, social housing, and local government. As Customer Advisory & Consulting Lead at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Steve works with organisations across the continuum of care helping them to maximise their investment in OnBase technology to deliver safer patient care, whilst driving down costs and improving outcomes. Steve is based out of Hyland’s European HQ in London, and works with customers in England, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
Steve Rudland

Steve Rudland

Steve Rudland has worked in the enterprise software industry since 1993, specialising in information sharing, process management, and collaboration technologies; specifically, their application in healthcare, social housing, and local government.... read more about: Steve Rudland