digital documents in healthcareDocument-sharing is a huge challenge in healthcare. The amount of paperwork that trails each and every patient, and which needs to be seen by healthcare professionals, not to mention the related policies and procedures, is enormous. Making it electronic has massive potential to save time and energy, improving patients’ experience of healthcare and saving staff time. But getting the data security right is hugely important: enabling access by those who need to see but not those who don’t is a logistical headache of epic proportions.

A possible solution

Xerox’s DocuShare appears to offer a solution to the problem. It’s relatively affordable, but robust, in terms of being able to handle large quantities of data without security problems. And it allows compliance with document management requirements, including audit. Whether you want healthcare records management, or prescription management, DocuShare allows you to create, collate, archive, store, and manage documents with a detailed audit trail.

Xerox claims that good document management using DocuShare could save healthcare organisations huge amounts of time and money. Most healthcare organisations apparently see substantial cost savings within a very few months, just from paper reduction and staff efficiencies. DocuShare is also easy to use and fairly intuitive. Staff need little or no training to get them up and running in a very short space of time.

No more searching for lost pieces of paper. You can save money on paper and on paper storage, and also improve your patient care by ensuring that records are easily and quickly accessible when needed. It can also be used more proactively, to manage prescription ordering and improve pharmacy processing times.

For US clients, DocuShare also helps ensure compliance with HL 7 and HIPAA regulations. Staff will always have access to the latest, most up-to-date version of policies, procedural information or guidance. Organisations no longer have to worry about whether there is a folder somewhere with outdated information. And there’s the added bonus of search time saved. Xerox estimates that some organisations have saved up to 80% of the time spent hunting for policy and procedural information. Document reviews can be set automatically, to ensure that old or outdated information is removed.

Some happy customers

But it’s not just Xerox that says that DocuShare works. Its clients include Kaiser Permanente, the White Memorial Medical Center, and St Peter’s Health Care Services.

St Peter’s Health Care Services has over 4.500 employees in 30 locations, including a hospital, care homes, a hospice, addiction treatment centre, and home care. The highly-regulated nature of its services meant that staff were generating a vast amount of paper, requiring frequent updates. It was struggling to ensure that staff had access to up-to-date procedures and policies. It started to use DocuShare to remove paper-intensive processes, provide a central point of access to all policies, procedures and guidance, and streamline delivery of policy updates.

Thirteen years after it first started to use DocuShare, St Peter’s has noticed some impressive changes. Staff are able to transfer data on and off-site quickly and securely. There are no huge binders of paperwork at every nursing station. All policies and procedures are now kept up-to-date, including pharmacy guidelines, ensuring that St Peter’s is compliant with regulations.

Kaiser Permanente looked to DocuShare to solve problems with managing multiple forms, in multiple versions. Not only was this taking up huge amounts of staff time, but the physical printing was costing a fortune. But cost of any document management system was a primary concern. Kaiser chose to use DocuShare, which was already in use in some of its facilities. It was able to add users gradually, as facilities were ready to migrate. The system is also easy to use, and does not require client software, as it’s web-based.

The solution was simple, but effective. A central website holds all the necessary policies and procedures documents, from where they can be accessed by all staff. Departments can also set up their own DocuShare websites, for their own forms and any specific policies and procedures. Because it’s all done via a basic web browser, users don’t need any special training, which makes implementation very simple. But it’s secure, with document owners able to set the level of access and whether a document is ‘read-only’. The new system has eliminated use of outdated forms, and ensured regulatory compliance.

Simple solutions, hugely effective

The idea of a good document-sharing system may seem simple, but it has revolutionised life in at least two healthcare facilities. It’s improved regulatory compliance, freed up staff time, and improved patient experience. Others are advised to take note.

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