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Why Hospitals Should Worry About Document Management (Part 1)

Posted by Chris Heckler on Feb 27, 2015 10:15:00 AM
Chris Heckler
Hospital Document Management

Does anybody else remember the big push to go paperless about 10-12 years ago? It’s pretty funny how the entire industry utilizes electronic records now but still goes through about the same amount of paper. This is the first article in a series we’re writing on document management where we’ll discuss some of the best practices in managing all of these documents and share ideas for putting together an RFP that selects a cost-effective and capable vendor.

Breaking Down Document Management

Much like purchased services, the term document management means different things to different people. It can include the physical storage of documents and film, electronic storage of medical records, back-scanning your old paper records, day-forward scanning your new records, indexing, shredding on-site, shredding off-site, microfilming and all types of printing services. In fact, printing in and of itself can be broken down into 4-5 major areas on its own.

In this series, we’ll narrow the scope of document management to the following categories:

What the Data Tells Us

My team recently discovered an alarming fact. We conducted an analysis of the last 50 hospitals that loaded their data into Valify. On average, a hospital is using six different vendors to handle storage, scanning and shredding. Common vendors include Iron Mountain, GRM Information Services, Cintas, and Shred-it. I know it seems crazy to think that someone would use different shredding vendors at the same hospital, but it obviously happens a lot. Imagine the savings if these hospitals standardized their spend to just one vendor for each category or even one vendor for all three categories.

In order to help you understand the size of these categories and the potential savings you might have hiding within them, we pulled the average spend per bed for these same 50 hospitals.

document_management_spend_per_bed

These are not optimized numbers, which means that these hospitals have most likely not completed an RFP or negotiated competitive pricing recently.  We know this because our benchmarking solution show that there is at least 10%-20% better pricing in the market right now for these services.

Let me start off by saying that in order to ensure you have an effective document management program, you need to make sure you are using a reputable company that has bonded employees. Yes, this costs a little more but the peace of mind is worth it. You don't want Joe Shmoe from down the street taking your records in the back of his pickup truck and throwing them in the trash or storing them in his glorified garage while telling you that they have been destroyed or securely stored.

What the Risks Are

Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical situation. I visited a small hospital in Texas that was doing just that. They didn’t realize it until the fire marshall condemned the “storage facility” because it was stacked floor-to-ceiling in an old wooden building with no sprinkler system, which made it a huge fire hazard.

You also need to think about the “what if” scenarios like what if the truck taking your patient records to the storage facility gets into a wreck and all of those forms with protected health information (PHI) is being blown around in the streets of your city.

These things do happen. Several of our New York clients unfortunately experienced this last month when a fire destroyed their storage vendor’s warehouse. As the article notes, “the flames put plenty of lives on display as the crumpling warehouse belched up its contents: decades’ worth of charred medical records, court transcripts, lawyers’ letters, sonograms, bank checks and more.”

Conclusion

Going paperless was supposed to be about creating efficiencies, reducing costs, and saving the environment. We’ve solved part of the problem, but traditional business practices still require that we print and manage a lot of paper. Throughout the series, we’ll walk you through best practices for operationalizing your document management process including pricing benchmarks and key areas to watch out for while comparing vendors.

In our next post in the series, we’ll take a look at storage, and review some useful tips that you can use to select an appropriate vendor.

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