As electronic health records are becoming the norm for clinical settings such as hospitals, there are still many that are in transition. Paper communication still occurs while health care professional adjust to the digital methods of data basing. Types of issues to consider during this transition are the security requirements and strict privacy policies of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the more recent Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
In terms of paper communication during this transition to digital patient medical records, documents that need to be scanned or archived and contracts that need a signature leave physicians and other health professionals more work. The next move would be to also transition to electronic signatures.
Here are some concerns in terms of transitioning from paper to paperless.
Old School VS New School
With regards to the big push for everything digital, the healthcare industry is one the slower industries to transition into digital only practices. The younger generation known as Gen Y has a greater propensity to utilize and implement technology in medical practices. However, some resistance occurs within the generation of seasoned professionals.
Privacy of Electronic Medical Records
Another concern that brings hesitation to the transition of going paperless is the reliance on technologies such as cloud networks. These types of technologies make e-signatures a necessity rather than an option. Whether clinics use paper or go digital, protecting patient information is always a concern and great steps should be taken to ensure that this information is not released unintentionally.
Efficiency and Productivity of Patient Care
The transition from paper to paperless might give one the appearance that digital health records decrease the efficiency and productivity of patient care. However, after the adjustment period is over, medical practices have more time to give to their patients and not have to take time filing documents or writing scripts. Endurance is a quality that medical practices are known due to their resilience of continuously undergoing health care policy changes. Give yourself time for a to get into developed rhythm and full transition into electronic medical records and your medical practice will surpass its goals of efficiency and productivity than you though possible.
Encouraging patients to be more involved with their health may seem overwhelming. Many healthcare professionals not only have to handle the adjustments of learning and implementing new programs for themselves, but they also must be able to deal with the patient side of the programs. Although it may be a stressful transition, it has been proven that patients are more satisfied with service and are more responsible in terms of keeping track of health information and arriving to appointments.
Despite concerns of transitioning from paper to paperless, primarily with internet privacy, over time the benefits outweigh the costs and trials of the adjustment period. Benefits are the improvement of handling patient information, increased time for patient care, and more patient satisfaction. Endure though it may seem endless, it is worthwhile.