How less paper ultimately benefits the continuum of care

by Michael Campana
Contrary to popular belief, even hospitals with electronic health records (EHRs) have information silos—and lots of paper in those information silos.
Just think about all of the faxed physician orders and lab results that still exist despite EHRs. While these paper documents sit on a machine or in someone's inbox, other providers are unaware of them, which creates costly inefficiencies and delays in care.
In fact, according to The Paperless Project1, large organizations lose a document every 12 seconds, and each lost document costs between $350 to $700—not to mention the potential cost to patient care.
On the other hand, capturing paper documents like physician orders or lab results electronically at the point of entry establishes efficient workflows that quickly place up-to-date information in the EHR. This data driven strategy gives providers a common, online view of each patient's records, which results in improved care collaboration before, during and after a hospital visit.

Eliminating the departmental silos caused by paper-based processes is not simply a matter of scanning documents at the end of a particular workflow. Instead, it requires breaking down bottlenecks and delays across the enterprise by gathering information from multiple sources, then using data repositories and analytics to improve how patient information is leveraged wherever patient care is provided. Departmental processes are improved by understanding how technology facilitates more accurate and efficient information capture and exchange. For example, rather than relaying lab results by touching a piece of paper three or four times before capturing it electronically, intelligent work queue scanning can be used at the point of entry to ensure the information is readily available in a more timely fashion.
We know paper will never completely go away in healthcare. The key is to put smart technologies and processes in place to break down departmental silos and capture information as quickly and efficiently as possible across the continuum of care. Without data silos, providers see a more complete patient record—allowing them to make better decisions and provide higher quality care.

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Michael Campana
Michael Campana joined Ricoh in 2012 as Senior Manager of Healthcare Marketing. He brings 27 years of experience to the role to lead the market positioning and strategy for Ricoh’s healthcare industry vertical in the Americas. Campana began his career in the healthcare industry upon graduating from the University of South Florida. He has worked for a number of healthcare organizations, including most recently Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services.
1"Facts About Paper: The Impact of Consumption," The Paperless Project.
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