Even over the past few years, the healthcare industry has changed significantly. The passing of the Affordable Care Act, the upcoming ICD-10 deadline, as well as existing institutions like HIPAA, HCFA, Medicare, and Medicaid, ensure that there is no shortage of regulatory standards. And with regulatory standards comes paperwork.
Compliance with these federal regulations, in addition to increased patient loads, increased costs, and incomplete or mismanaged patient records, can make the operational day-to-day of hospital administration full of headaches—and documentation.
Recent technological advances, however, offer feasible solutions to these headaches. For example, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, which simplify the storage and maintenance of important patient records, offer a number of benefits that help streamline daily processes for both medical and non-medical departments. Below are 5 key benefits of content management systems, 5 reasons to really, really consider implementing one in your organization.
1. Positive Impact on Cash Flow
First, and most apparent, is the positive impact document management software can have on your organization’s cash flow, as well as on its bottom line. Within a few years, most organizations recoup the initial investment of implementing this software, and see additional financial benefits such as decreased costs and increased efficiency.
Additionally, certain document management software can decrease the processing time when dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurance companies, speeding up your collection time, and reducing your A/R days outstanding. Faster and more accurate coding, decreased transcription costs, and increased efficiency are also benefits derived from implementing this type of software.
Having your documents stored electronically, rather than physically, reduces storage and maintenance costs, especially if you currently outsource your storage and maintenance. For a fuller look at how implementing document management tools can improve your cash flow, check out this article!
Before deciding to implement any old document management software into your hospital or health system, consider how well it will integrates with your other systems. Most software solutions on the market offer this ability, though some are better than others. For example, the document management software you eventually decide on should integrate well with your current Electronic Medical Record system, if you already have one in place.
Enterprise Content Management systems tend to integrate on a number of fronts.
Most ECM systems, for example, integrate easily with your administration, billing, HR, and other non-medical departments, providing your organization with even more sharing efficiency. By enabling you to store and share employee records, hiring and termination information, personnel files, and other non-medical department documents, these software programs ensure that your practice runs more efficiently overall.
3. Ease of Use
When making the shift from paper-based document management to electronic document management, one of your biggest challenges may be overcoming the end-users’ fear of or resistance to change. However, most content management tools are relatively easy to use, and provide a fully searchable database with documents stored in searchable formats. This feature is key in promoting efficiency when searching for an older patient record or billing Medicare for a procedure.
Another issue you may face is the imaging and indexing process, where all of your paper documents are scanned and sorted into the ECM system. But typically, most vendors who offer content management systems often have the capacity to assist your organization with this process, making the transition quicker and smoother. Of course, you can always take this task upon yourself, and slowly chip away at your store of paper documents over time.
Additionally, some ECM systems enable workflow, which allows a number of different people to access and edit documents from anywhere at anytime. If a document needs to be exchanged between and signed by a number of people, workflow makes this exchange more accurate by eliminating the paper shuffling, and shortens cycle time.
Many document management solutions also offer system monitoring and reporting, which allow you to easily see how well the system is operating, preventing any slowdowns, bottlenecks, or other system issues that could interfere with your operations.
Furthermore, document management systems enable you to automate your existing compliance measures, making it easier to comply with HIPAA, Medicare, HCFA, ICD-10, and so on. In general, content management tools offer more built-in security than a paper-based system; you can limit who has access to certain documents, as well as see an audit trail of who has accessed them. It also compiles all of your records that need to be closely managed into one place, simplifying the management process.
Lastly, it’s important to note that many hospitals and healthcare providers choose to roll out their ECM systems gradually over time, beginning in one area and moving, department by department, throughout the enterprise. The scalability that many content management tools offer enables this expansion. However, some vendors may not have the capacity for an extremely large organization, while others may be too bulky for rather small practices—for this reason, it’s good to do your own research and ask whether or not a particular software is a good fit for your organization. The right software, though, will be able to grow alongside your growing organization.
So there ya have it: 5 reasons to really, really consider those content management tools you’ve been hearing so much about.