3 Tips for Better Document Control in Healthcare
- Written by Amy Dinsmore
- May 17 2016
Between records, billing, patient forms, insurance forms, lab results, internal policies and procedures and numerous other important medical documents, healthcare organizations have a lot to keep track of to ensure good patient care. Add in the requirements for maintaining ISO standards and satisfying HIPAA regulations and it’s not hard to see why document and version control is so essential in healthcare.
Making the switch from physical to digital healthcare document control can save time, money, storage space and a lot of stress. Here are a few ways to make digital document management work for your organization:
1. Develop comprehensive policies and structures for document control
As you’re developing better policies for document control, take time to map out all the different types of documents needed in your organization. Go back to the basics. Is there a system for creating, naming and organizing documents? Assess which documents each department needs to access, who should have viewing and editing privileges and how long documents need to remain in the archives. Communicating these expectations with every member of your staff will ensure that important documents don’t get duplicated, lost or deleted.
Make sure your process is scalable and flexible. Having one administrator manage all documents may work when the organization is small, but it will inevitably break down and leave more room for error as the volume of documents increases. Evaluate which processes can be automated so document management remains simple even as your organization grows.
2. Establish workflows and security
A recent study found that 81 percent of healthcare organizations collect, store and transmit protected health information via mobile devices. The study also showed that the most common security breaches and HIPAA violations came from the loss or theft of those mobile devices. To reduce these risks, invest in a document management system (DMS) that stores documents in a protected cloud rather than on individual devices. A good DMS will enable administrators to set up automatic pathways for updates and sign-offs and ensure that every person along the way sees the most up-to-date version of the document. An effective DMS also gives administrators complete control over document security and allows them to view the history of each document to keep track of what changes each person made.
3. Integrate All Your Document Management Hardware and Software
Effective document control should free up your staff to focus on patients rather than struggling to transfer information between devices and software applications. Find a document management system that’s easily accessible from all devices, integrates your organization’s EMR software and allows your staff to easily convert and upload scanned documents to digital formats.
Healthcare document control is incredibly important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Investing in the right technology and creating comprehensive structures for document storage and control can help your organization reduce errors and risk, maintain ISO standards, and most importantly, provide high-quality patient care.