How Esignatures in Healthcare Can Streamline the Patient Experience
By Leor Melamedov
Healthcare companies are notoriously burdened with time-consuming paperwork requirements. This comes from the necessity of fulfilling compliance requirements. In addition to other digital transformation efforts, adding eSignatures to electronic forms and documents can reduce the time, effort, and inconvenience that comes with wet signatures.
Why Wet Signatures in Healthcare Aren’t Enough
1. They’re cumbersome:Healthcare professionals struggle to juggle providing competent and compassionate care, while simultaneously staying in compliance. According to an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), 60% of its members said that “administrative simplification” should be the organization’s priority.
Wet signatures are distinctly non-simple, as they are part and parcel of the administrative burden that doctors shun.
2. They present a health risk: The signing and transmitting of wet signatures also comes with the possibility of transmitting disease. Wet signatures are typically delivered in person, requiring staff to gather together or with patients in potentially crowded quarters. Forcing staff to come into hospitals just to sign documents needlessly creates an opportunity for disease to spread.
3. They present a compliance risk: Although it happens rarely, wet signatures can be forged, changed, or otherwise tampered with. This is a risk with all physical paperwork and signatures are no exception. In addition, wet signatures make it more difficult to stay compliant with regulations such as HIPAA. Healthcare professionals can accidentally leave patient forms and documents containing the signature lying around, which is in breach of patient data privacy.
The Advantages of E-Signatures in Healthcare
1. They keep healthcare professionals safer:Healthcare staff are unfortunately exposed to a wide variety of illnesses and germs in their day-to-day jobs. But that doesn’t mean they need to put administrative staff at risk. ESignatures allow doctors and nurses to provide consent to administrative departments fully remotely. This helps keep everyone safe and lowers the likelihood of transmitting germs.
2. They’re convenient:ESignatures can be used for a wide variety of important healthcare tasks, including:
Onboarding medical staff: Medical staffing agencies can use eSignatures when onboarding staff to place in hospitals and clinics.
Collecting approvals: Whether it’s for staff training purposes, medical agreements, or something else, eSignatures can be used to expedite the approval collection process.
Managing medical records: From prescriptions to medical discharge forms, eSignatures can make it easy to manage medical records.
Staff processes: Approving employee timesheets and similar documents can be done with eSignatures.
3. They improve the patient experience: Patients are already under stress due to a healthcare condition. The last thing they need when they are seeking treatment is to be distracted by bureaucratic matters. Using eSignatures in a healthcare setting allows patients to spend less time and energy on paperwork, and focus on getting better.
4. They enable telehealth services: Telehealth services gained popularity for consultations during the coronavirus pandemic, and it looks like they are here to stay. Wet signatures aren’t possible to send or receive during a telehealth consultation, whereas remote patients can provide consent via eSignature wherever they are.
Real-Life Example of eSignatures in Healthcare: GSK
GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) is one such healthcare provider that relies on electronic signatures. As a large pharmaceutical company, it has a wide number of initiatives that require digital consent. One of these initiatives takes place at the contact center, where GSK collects patient stories and shares them with employees to show them the impact they have.
Sharing these patient stories is critical for GSK’s mission, but collecting testimonials requires patient consent if they are to be used legally in marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, wet signatures proved to be untenable. The contact center spent a disproportionate amount of time chasing patients for consent, resulting in prolonged turnaround times and poor completion rates. Without consent, a patient testimonial cannot be used, making it essential to find an alternative to wet signatures.
Finally, GSK found Lightico’s eSignature solution, which empowered call center agents to gather patient signatures in real time, while on a call. The eSignature platform was up and running in just a couple of days, allowing backlogged testimonials to swiftly be usable for internal marketing purposes.
Call center agents and patients found themselves less burdened by compliance requirements, and both sides regained precious time.
ESignatures in Healthcare: Better For Everyone
To be sure, patients appreciate being able to electronically sign documents in a healthcare setting. It saves them time, energy, and effort. But it’s not just patients who benefit: healthcare professionals win back precious time, compliance officers gain peace of mind, and the entire organization, hospital, or clinic can operate with greater agility. To learn more about Lightico’s eSignature solution and related digital capabilities such as eForms, visit Lightico.com.
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