April 21, 2015

Turbo Charge Your Healthcare Practice with an Integrated ECM Strategy

This is a guest post from Jeff Frankel, Executive Vice President and Principal at docSTAR, a B2B software firm specializing in cloud document management solutions and business process automation. He has more than two decades experience in corporate business development, with industry-leading firms such as Authentidate Holding Corp, Med-Flash, Health Focus of NY, and Ernst & Young. You can follow the DocStar team at @docSTARsoftware

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These days, users are managing their work from desktops, notebooks and mobile devices while using software and applications in a myriad of ways. It is increasingly important for healthcare practices to ensure that all data exchange is consistent, efficient and secure across multiple platforms and locations. Healthcare practices also need to implement a HIPAA compliant, secure approach not only for their EHR, but for all systems and documentation that affect their organization – from the back office to customer service.

One of the best ways to improve operational effectiveness is by using enterprise content management (ECM) to centralize all of the disparate data and documentation in a practice environment. By implementing ECM systems as part of the overall content management strategy, organizations can seamlessly share information across departments and reinforce best practices in every department from HR to AP.

Here are five ways a content management system can increase efficiency, improve security, and help boost your bottom line:

Reduction in data duplication and errors

From admissions to accounting, ECM systems can help reduce keystrokes, minimize data entry errors and improve overall efficiency. For clinical documentation, ECM systems can dramatically reduce patient file and chart management by electronically scanning and filing historical active records and making them accessible to your entire staff regardless of their location. Often, this is the first step in taking legacy data and incorporating it electronically so that it can be used in conjunction with the EHR – giving a practice full access to an entire patient record from one location, in a lot less time. This can make it easier to go paperless, since all files are located centrally.

ECM also helps with file sharing by providing secure, remote access to patient and financial information, which allows users to work from their office, a hospital, satellite location, or their home. Auto-tasking provides workflow capability to improve efficiency and streamline communication between users and reduces double and sometimes triple data entry and errors.

HIPAA compliance in all departments

Healthcare IT News recently reported that The Office for Civil Rights, the HHS Division for enforcing HIPAA, has levied more than $25.1 million in fines since 2009 when the HIPAA Breach Notification took effect. HIPAA compliance is more than just protecting the privacy of patient data, and securing the transmittal of that data. It also means preventing the loss and corruption of information and protecting it with the appropriate disaster recovery measures. This includes sensitive employee information as well. Eliminating paper files in all departments – including human resources is one way to enforce a HIPAA-compliant secure environment for everything from employee benefits, contracts and physician certification to human resource records, legal forms and EOB’s.

Streamlined accounts payable

In the same way that ECM can help with storage and access to medical documentation, it is also critical in helping the business office meet financial goals and improve strategic planning. By using ECM to automate AP, healthcare executives gain access to tools that improve the visibility into the AP process to evaluate where additional efficiencies may be gained. The entire effort of managing procurement, purchase orders, invoicing and payment can be more organized with AP automation.

According to Aberdeen Research, companies surveyed reported a generous cost savings by automating invoice processing – from an average cost of $16.33 per invoice down to $5.65 per electronic invoice – savings of over 65 percent. Additionally, companies also saw a reduction in costs associated with remittances by 59 percent. Without ECM, invoices, POs and related paperwork can be mishandled and are difficult to reconcile.

Executives can then use dashboards, report generation, and analytics to interpret business strategy and improve financial performance. A recent study by IBM shows that analytical data can help improve financial and administrative performance by “optimizing the supply chain, improving risk management and increasing revenues.” Bottom line – with better process visibility, healthcare companies are able to better plan for what lies ahead.

Improved vendor relationships

This outcome occurs when practice administrators take advantage of quick pay discounts. Automating the AP process delivers faster procure-to-pay cycle times and more rapid processing of approvals for order acknowledgment and fulfillment. Many organizations can benefit from this speed and efficiency by establishing a positive track record with vendors and negotiating early pay discounts for premiums or administrative fees.

Streamlined audit process

ECM systems are particularly useful during audits by providing secure access to data that is easily searchable. Users can respond to queries in real-time and set up workflow rules ahead of time to make sure the right information is sent to and signed off on in a timely manner – eliminating misplaced records. Audit trails indicate when a file was accessed and can also be used to show the retention and or destruction of files in accordance with compliance rules. With all clinical records and financial documentation residing in one system, practices can reduce the burden on both staff and auditors.

The bottom line is that across the enterprise, every aspect of a practice can benefit from a solid content management system. With new cloud technologies and Hybrid ECM systems, practices can decide where to manage their data – whether on premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid solution. Automation is beneficial for any size practice, and particularly useful for those who have multiple geographic locations. And with new cloud technologies available, there is minimal upfront investment and almost no IT burden.

So what’s your ECM strategy?

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