Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 18, 2021

Boosting Healthcare Efficiency with Better Document Management

What are some of the issues healthcare organizations face in managing documents?

From patient histories and consent forms to prescriptions, internal reports and contracts, today’s healthcare providers are inundated with documents. Managing them and keeping them secure and compliant reduces the amount of time clinicians can spend with patients. It also erodes productivity at a time when organizations are looking to increase efficiency and lower costs.

One problem is a lack of standardization. Most healthcare organizations generate a mix of electronic and paper documents, which are managed and stored in different ways, creating confusion. Many are not searchable, so providers waste valuable time looking for the information they need.

Paper documents are especially time-consuming. Those requiring signatures must be mailed or faxed, causing delays. Version control and collaboration are difficult, and errors multiply as information is transferred manually and scanned. Paper documents are also expensive and bulky to store. They can easily end up in the wrong hands, creating security and compliance violations. As the mountains of paperwork grow taller each year, it becomes increasingly harder to manage them and keep them safe.

What steps should healthcare organizations take to manage documents better?

The first thing organizations need to do is strategize. Documents exist in workflows. You must have a thorough understanding of your workflows to know where bottlenecks lie and how to eliminate them.

Since healthcare leaders are not directly involved in most departmental workflows, they need to work with managers to gain a deeper knowledge of operations and prioritize changes.

Digitizing the documentation process is the first basic step to going digital. To do this, healthcare organizations must adopt a robust, affordable, secure, easy-to-use document productivity tool, and PDF is the defacto electronic document format that provides a secure
shell for the data. Then you can streamline workflows by easily converting existing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, paper documents and image files into searchable PDFs. Records and information will become much easier to find. Bottlenecks and manual errors will disappear. Document standardization will ensure consistent management across the organization.

What else can healthcare organizations do to be more efficient when working with documents?

Healthcare organizations can use various PDF editing tool features for streamlining document editing, collaboration, archiving and signing processes, while also maintaining compliance and security with documentation. Doctors and nurses can annotate files, thereby capturing important information that otherwise might be lost or forgotten. Staff can share and co-create internal documents, generating new insights and saving time. For complex documents, such as those used in clinical trials, researchers can create a table of contents for easy scanning and connect to related documents outside the PDF.

How can healthcare organizations ensure compliance for these documents, especially those that are transmitted for signatures?

Healthcare organizations are responsible for keeping the information in their documents compliant, but a PDF vendor should ensure that document transmission is encrypted. PDFs should also be password- protected, so only authorized recipients can access them. The ability to redact sensitive information from documents before sending them is also a useful feature.

Increasingly, organizations are sending forms through digital signature software such as DocuSign. Digital signature platforms save time and money, and they are secure. Patients like them because they can fill out health information and consent forms electronically at their convenience, instead of scribbling answers with a pen at the clinic. Receiving the information before the appointment also helps clinicians to be more efficient during the visit.

You should make sure your PDF vendor works with your digital signature platform. If you don’t have a platform, make sure the PDF vendor works with a trusted third-party security certificate provider so you can securely send fillable PDFs on your own.

What else should healthcare organizations look for in selecting a PDF and document productivity software vendor?

Healthcare organizations need a partner who understands their business processes and can help them optimize workflows to provide a seamless experience for providers and patients alike.

Support is also critical. Healthcare providers are busy and value personal contact. When they call, they don’t want to be connected to an automated voice system telling them where to look up information. They want to talk to a real person who understands their concerns and provides advice tailored to their needs.

Choosing the right tools is important. In the document-heavy healthcare industry, proper application of PDF software significantly boosts productivity and satisfaction. In the HIMSS survey, 93% of healthcare providers said an effective PDF editor improves operational efficiency and costs. More than 90% said it can directly improve the patient experience.

The tools healthcare organizations need to improve document management are at their fingertips. The trick is selecting the right ones and making sure they work smoothly with existing systems.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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By Special Guest
Deboshree Sarkar, Product Marketing Manager and Healthcare Vertical Leader at Foxit Software ,


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