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The paper plateau: What to do with the paper you just can’t lose

by Michael Campana 
 
It’s the season for New Year’s Resolutions. While many Americans may be focused on trimming down pounds, I want to focus on the paper that still clings to our hospitals and healthcare organizations. 

In our recent study with HealthLeaders, a majority of respondents stated that up to 25% of their healthcare organization’s records are paper-based. In fact, only 8% reported having zero paper-based records. Even in today’s digital world, with the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and advances in tech-enabled communications, significant paper remains.

Instead of striving to go completely paperless, healthcare organizations can embrace the paper that lingers in their system. Here are three ways incorporating physical documents into digital workflows can make paper work for hospitals instead of against them.

 
document scan

1. Integrate paper-based information directly into your EHR

Clinicians require patient information at the point of care, yet many historical documents like physicians’ notes, lab results or images are difficult to access. Health systems can employ document management and advanced scan-and-capture solutions to convert important information from paper to digital formats. Once scanned and captured, the information integrates directly into the EHR. Providers can access the information they need exactly when and where they need it.
 

In our recent study with HealthLeaders, a majority of respondents stated that up to 25% of their healthcare organization’s records are paper-based. In fact, only 8% reported having zero paper-based records.

 
document transfer

2. Move paper securely with an integrated fax management system

One of the biggest challenges that paper presents is its inability to move swiftly and securely throughout the health system. Though 95% of respondents say they share information electronically, a whopping 70% still share information through the scan or fax of paper, and 29% of respondents rely on manual paper hand-offs. Fax machines do not integrate with EHRs and other systems, and they can present security risks. An integrated fax management solution can “talk” to other systems to help maximize efficiencies and reduce costs. Healthcare organizations can also avoid a security breach by moving away from manual fax mistakes like abandoned trays, misdials and outdated speed dial destinations.

3. View and discuss physical documents with collaborative tools

Clinicians can remotely share images and handwritten notes using interactive whiteboards. These whiteboards allow multiple devices to join in presentations and conversations with PIN access to protect private information. This enables providers to collaborate across departments or facilities, and it allows the participants to download the images and any handwritten notes following the meeting. Healthcare staff can continue to make additional edits and annotations directly to the presentation and easily send it back-and-forth in a digital form.

To learn more from our research with HealthLeaders, download the Document-Centric Interoperability Report.

The paper plateau: What to do with the paper you just can’t lose

Instead of striving to go paperless, explore three strategies gleaned from key findings in our recent HealthLeaders study for incorporating physical documents into digital workflows for stronger collaboration.
 
 
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.