clock menu more-arrow no yes

The cure for healthcare’s paperwork problem?

It’s not medicine. It’s automation.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.
A clipboard with paperwork sits on a table in a doctor’s office. The clipboard is covered with a stethoscope, and a pen and laptop are nearby.
Photo credit: andrei_r

In the field of medicine, where time is of the essence, paperwork often stands in the way of providers trying to offer the highest standard of care. According to a report by the American Hospital Association, some doctors spend as much time doing paperwork as they do seeing patients.

At the United Kingdom’s State Senior Healthcare group, staff members completing in-home assessments frequently ran into paperwork roadblocks on the job. After recording their observations on paper forms, the assessors had to digitize their data by hand. Since they were on the road for most of the day, they usually didn’t have internet access until they returned to the office. So, every day, the assessors stayed late to key in information from their paperwork.

The assessors’ struggle, which they approached Xerox to streamline, is a common one — even for physicians, who lose hours every day dealing with paperwork rather than taking appointments. In another study, this one in the Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors said they spent almost twice as much time battling paperwork as they did caring for patients.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the problem. The push for digitization has accelerated, and the Cures Act, legislation meant to accelerate pharmaceutical development, also includes a provision that says patients must be able to access their medical records electronically for free. The move toward healthcare’s digital-record future has become a race to meet this goal, and many providers across the country are in a panic. But with the right type of automation, their electronic shift can become more seamless, efficient, and ideally even stress-free.

Messy shelves of manila folders containing medical records in a doctor’s office.
Photo credit: BartSadowski

Automating the doctor’s office

Automation solved the State Senior Healthcare group’s time crunch. Before the group looked into new technology, assessors habitually worked long hours fighting the paperwork slog. Xerox analyzed the provider’s problems and came up with a tailored solution: for State Senior Healthcare’s needs, that was Xerox Automated Intelligence Technology. With this tool, workers making home visits filled out PDFs with patient information, even if they didn’t have internet access. Once they returned to the office, assessors emailed the forms to their Automated Intelligence account, which input the data for them while keeping patient information secure. That created more time for direct patient care, and it meant fewer late nights staring at computer screens or piles of paper in order to keep up.

Automation tools are key to turning manual, paper-intensive processes into fast, streamlined, compliant, and secure digital ones. These technologies automatically organize, scan, classify, and store patient records in one convenient place. That means providers can help reduce lost or incorrectly entered information associated with manual entry, and decrease the amount of redundant paper forms containing duplicate information. Without those former time-wasters, they can spend more time with patients.

As healthcare becomes hybridized, with doctors both maintaining offices and extending their services via telehealth, privacy concerns add even more complication to the patient-provider relationship. Many offices don’t have HIPAA-compliant file-sharing software, meaning many clients can only obtain their records and vital information in-person.

Taking security a step further, specialized healthcare file-sharing software can help medical offices keep uploaded information safer through next-generation conveniences. Using Xerox DocuShare, for example, staffers can quickly share files — including sensitive records — knowing that each patient’s information will stay private.

On a desk in a medical office, a doctor places one hand on a keyboard and uses one to hold a medical file folder. A stethoscope sits on the desk next to the keyboard.
Photo credit: ivan_kuprevich

Digitizing healthcare, fast

Transforming the mounds of paper in medical offices does more than streamline work: it also makes the office less stressful. Cluttered spaces can heighten anxiety levels and negatively impact focus, dietary choices, and sleep, according to the Harvard Business Review. Mess affects the quality of patient care, too, as it slows down workflow.

Even for savvy providers who know all that, taking the leap into new digital services usually requires a lot of work — and time, another thing in short supply in the medical field. Without the right technology, digitizing any provider’s mountains of paperwork could take months, or, in the case of hospitals — years. But it doesn’t have to. For Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, digitizing 30,000 records took less than six months with the help of Xerox. For the trust, Xerox created a custom paper-to-digital roadmap. Using automation and other digital information technology, Xerox streamlined the digitization workload, and that technology paid off. Going digital cleared nearly 6,000 square feet of space for clinical use. That freed up medical staffers, on several levels, to do more actual work and to avoid the black hole of admin.

“Our clinical staff have really taken to working completely digitally,” said Linda Watts, GDE Program manager and head of health records at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “We’re also using the scanned records to give patients better access to their own records.”

Digitization in the healthcare space: a win-win for providers and patients. And for the years ahead, it’ll be something that can make us all feel a little better.

Advertiser Content From Xerox logo