Two doctors looking at patient data on digital tablet

Document management for healthcare


Learn about the benefits of a document management system for healthcare environments.

Read time: 3 minutes

The role of document management in healthcare

Struggling to keep up with the amount of data and documents generated every day?You’re not alone.

To deliver a positive patient experience, healthcare institutions and medical practices must efficiently process many types of documents and information such as:

  • Hospital admissions/new patient onboarding

  • Lab orders and test results

  • Patient histories and clinical notes

  • Specialist referrals

  • Insurance pre-approvals and claims

  • Patient EOBs

  • Prescriptions

  • Follow-up care/post-operative instructions

  • Invoices, purchase orders, and billing

Most of these documents are digital – and start as digital forms, but some enter the workflow as hardcopy and must be scanned or faxed into a document management system (DMS).

Add industry-specific patient privacy and compliance regulations like HIPAA to the mix and it’s easy to see how the workload can get overwhelming, resulting in backlogs, omissions, and processing errors.

Many healthcare facilities already have an electronic health records (EHR) management solution to alleviate many of these pressures. Even so, the sheer volume of patients and paperwork make it difficult to keep up. For those that don’t have one, it can be complicated to implement.

Document management delivers more than efficient storage and retrieval of documents – though that is surely part of it. Ensuring the correct information and documents are accessible when needed helps patients get prompt and proper care and enables paperwork for insurance claims and payment to be processed in a timely manner.

Healthcare document management systems – putting patients first

Healthcare document management systems (DMS) are rarely an all-encompassing single application. Rather, they combine and integrate a variety of different applications to support various functions and departments such as Admissions, Scheduling, Referrals, Pharmacy, Human Resources, and Purchasing.

For example, an EHR system like DocuWare stores and freely moves digital documents across organizations, while the Payer Provider Payment Solution brings faxed hardcopy documents into digital workflows, and the Patient Referrals Solution digitizes referral processing.

Healthcare organizations can improve security, access data, and improve the patient experience by implementing a centralized document management system that can execute these functions.

Meeting HIPAA compliance with patient records

Ensuring patient privacy and information security is top-of-mind for every healthcare organization. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) outlines precautions to safeguard patient information.

Exposing confidential data can have far-reaching consequences from identity theft to asset theft, resulting in steep fines and penalties for the liable individual and/or practice.

To comply with HIPAA and protect an organization from monetary damages, a document management system should have features such as:

  • Password-protected, controlled access to the DMS

  • SSL data encryption for all stored files

  • Role-based user permissions for access rights

  • Automated management of document retention and destruction policies

  • Virus/malware detection

  • Versioning to track when a record was changed

  • Audit trails for traceability in the event of a breach

Security measures like these help you to comply with HIPAA as you reduce employee workload and the possibility for manual re-entry mistakes. These in turn bring greater efficiency and positively affect revenue.

Related content

Article: Security features to look for when choosing a document management system

10 benefits of document management for healthcare organizations

  1. Improves patient experience.

  2. Fast access to correct patient information by physicians and administrators.

  3. Protects against compliance violations and monetary damages.

  4. Creates repeatable, rules-based workflows for consistent data entry by all users.

  5. Increases employee productivity through automated workflows.

  6. Improves cash flow by speeding communications with payer providers.

  7. Reduces expenses associated with hardcopy documents.

  8. Enables faster referral processing.

  9. Allows for information access by employees working remotely.

  10. Eliminates lost and misfiled documents.

Key features that benefit hybrid workforces and the digital workplace

Document management systems that enable secured remote access can help bridge the physical gap between worker and information to speed healthcare workflows and outcomes.

Other features of document management system that enable anytime, anywhere collaboration include:

  • Cloud-based architecture for anywhere, anytime access by authorized users.

  • A means to capture hardcopy pages, either by scanning or taking a picture of a document.

  • Optical character recognition (OCR) technology to automatically extract data, index pages for easy retrieval, and eliminate manual rekeying tasks and errors.

  • Versioning and tracking capabilities to ensure everyone has access to the latest edited file.

  • Workflow automation tools to route documents through review and approval cycles.

  • The ability to create customized workflows to address new applications over time.

  • Administrator rights management over user permissions and access levels.

Related content

Article: Introduction to cloud document management

Article: Why choose digital document management

How to implement document management in your healthcare organization

Many healthcare providers struggle with staffing and resources already stretched too thin. As your partner in the digital workspace and information management, we can help you analyze current systems and processes, review your options, present recommendations, and guide the implementation of your next document management solution.

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