The true value of healthcare professionals is the care they provide to their patients. Yet in many hospitals and clinics, their precious time is squandered on processing physical paperwork, leading to inefficiencies, burnout, and compliance challenges. By adopting an eSignature solution, healthcare providers can expedite the collection of physician and patient consent, while maintaining a level of compliance that meets or exceeds that of traditional signatures.
The problem with physical paperwork in healthcare
Far from being a mere inevitability to be tolerated, paperwork is a significant drain on the healthcare system, and the patients it serves. Healthcare providers that are slow to adopt new digital solutions may think they are living by the principle of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Yet as compliance requirements grow, and the stacks of papers grow accordingly, it’s becoming clear that the system is in fact broken.
Here are some of the costs of working with physical forms, documents, and signatures, and forgoing digitization.
An analysis conducted by Harvard Medical School, the City University of New York at Hunter College, and the University of Ottawa found that 34% of all U.S. medical costs, including doctor visits and health insurance comes from paperwork. An average hospital maintains 45 million individual paper forms and documents that must all be stored in a highly secure yet searchable way, which is not cheap.
Compared to their counterparts north of the border, Americans are overloaded with administrative costs when it comes to healthcare. Health administration costs four times more per capita in the U.S ($2,479 per person) than in Canada ($551 per person). Meanwhile, Americans paid $844 per person on insurance overhead, compared to $146 for Canadians.
While some of this can be chalked up to the particular complexity of the U.S. healthcare system, this is all the more reason why the U.S. needs to leave behind outdated paperwork processes and streamline its administrative management.
2. It’s less compliant
While most healthcare professionals are highly aware of compliance regulations, paperwork processes jeopardize their efforts. Paper forms, documents, and signatures are far easier to alter, forge, or lose, which is a liability when it comes to HIPAA compliance. All it takes is one document falling in the wrong hands, or lying out in the open on a desk, or lost in a sea of paperwork, to put patient privacy at risk.
HIPAA requires that healthcare professionals follow very strict protocols that govern administrative management, physical security, and technical security. But when healthcare professionals are overloaded with mountains of messy paperwork, and are overwhelmed with communicating with patients with outdated frontend systems, stringent compliance to all of HIPAA’s many requirements may fall by the wayside.
3. It’s not patient-centric
Patients, by definition, are grappling with a health issue –– however big or small. When they arrive at a clinic or hospital and have to fill out and sign tons of forms, it adds an additional headache that they don’t need. Going to a new doctor in particular often means repeating information that should already be visible in the system, but isn’t due to messy and siloed processes. Even worse, paper-based medical records are prone to getting misplaced, which in some cases could mean patients must redo tests. Even basic paperwork such as prescriptions can be a significant burden on patients: their doctors must print and physically sign these prescriptions, and they have to go and pick them up. For busy and in some cases unwell patients, that is too much to ask for.
The benefits of an eSignature solution for healthcare
Switching over to a completely digital eSignature solution benefits patients and medical professionals alike, improving areas of cost, compliance, and customer-centricity. With medical settings overstaffed and overworked, allowing patients to submit and fill out forms, documents and signatures through entirely digital means can be a godsend.
The ROI of switching to an eSignature solution is extremely high, and many of the benefits can be seen and felt almost instantaneously.
Easy migration from traditional systems
Healthcare decision makers often postpone digitizing because they dread the migration process, and fear that old paperwork will get lost along the way, or won’t be easily updated. However, the latest eSignature platforms enable existing paper forms and documents to be converted into signable digital forms that can be archived digitally.
2. Better patient experience
Patients can arrive at a doctor’s appointment, MRI, or hospital with their forms and documents already filled out and signed via an intuitive mobile environment. Once they arrive at the location, they can skip filling out forms in the waiting room and jump right to the treatment they need. Even billing can and should be done via a digital, mobile interface to save patients valuable time.
3. Improved efficiency
Valuable staff time is conserved with an eSignature solution, as EHR documents no longer need to be scanned. Healthcare forms and documents can be created instantly, and prefilled with patient information. Staff can also be confident that they always have the most up-to-date version of a given document or form, since a digital system is easier to maintain and update.
4. Easy compliance
The best eSignature solutions are based on HIPAA compliant text messaging and come with a time-stamped, tamper-proof paper trail, protecting the integrity of sensitive patient data and eliminating risk. Documents processed via digital solutions are stored safely and securely, and are readily accessible –– to the authorized eyes only.
The bottom line: Mobile eSignatures are the future of digital healthcare
By moving away from outdated paperwork processes and adopting a mobile, digital eSignature solution, healthcare professionals can serve patients more efficiently while maintaining the highest standards of compliance.
Lightico offers such a solution that can enable the healthcare sector to easily gather and verify patient documents, forms, ID, and payments through a simple text message sent to the patient’s mobile phone. Fax machines, scanners, and email can become a thing of the past, as can unreliable physical record-keeping.