Consider these 5 Points for a Successful Bedside Patient Electronic Signature Solution

Patient electronic signature solutions promise to eliminate paper, but removing the paper doesn’t automatically equal a successful eSignature project—specifically, if it leaves you with a bad patient experience. We covered this in a previous article

Now let’s turn our attention to what every hospital wants to do today and that’s close paper gaps at the bedside. Generally speaking, hospitals want to convert paper-based processes, such as Informed Consents, Radiology Consents, Radiology Questionnaires, Government Forms, and more, into digital forms patients can electronically sign.

If you want to tackle converting these forms into e-signable documents, there are a few things you’ll need to get right if you want this transition to be a success. Specifically, we’ve outlined five important points to ponder if you want to implement successful patient eSignatures at the bedside.

  1. Capable eSignature Technology: Forms completed in clinical care areas by patients are much more complex than the ones they complete in Registration. These types of forms require data entry in addition to basic eSignature capture. So the eSignature solution must be able to handle more than simply capturing the patient’s signature.
  2. Mobility: The patient eSignature process in Registration typically occurs at a desk, and you don’t have that luxury at the bedside. So it’s best to turn to user-friendly tablets for the answer to the “mobility” requirement of eSignature. It’s also important to consider software technology that’s adaptable to different tablets with different operating systems, because a hybrid state between PCs, such as the Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad and Android-based tablet are very common.
  3. Form Selection: This is where the dirty details make or break the usability of a patient eSignature solution. You need to consider how your nurses will queue forms for patients onto the tablets. Are they able to do this from a nurses’ workstation, and then somehow connect the selected forms to a tablet? Or are you supposed to choose the forms from the tablet itself?  Perhaps you can do both with your technology? In any case, for patient electronic signature at bedside to be setup for success, you need to look closely at the workflow involved in selecting and presenting patient forms on a tablet.                       
    Most people simply see the possibility of digital forms on a tablet and think, “Hey, that’s great! I want some of that.” But the process of getting those forms onto the tablet are often glossed over by solution vendors. Bottom line: If you have a poor technology workflow process, you’re going to have some serious adoption issues with your staff.
  4. Multiple Signatures: Often, the forms that are completed at the bedside require multiple signatures from medical staff. Simply put, you need to think through how you’re going to do this in a way that works for your team. For example, if you’re having the patient sign an Informed Consent and the surgeon needs to sign off as well, how will you ensure this happens consistently and easily? Does the surgeon have to be standing right there, or can the consent form be digitally delivered to them?
  5. Trackability: Playing off point four, if you’re going to be routing forms around for electronic signature capture, you’re going to need to track these bad boys, or else you’re going to end up with the digital experience of lost forms, and isn’t that what you were trying to get away from by eliminating paper? Talk about frustrating.

In summary … eliminating paper forms? Good. Implementing bedside patient electronic signatures? Good. Taking these steps without taking the technology and process into account? Very bad. No amount of technical or process innovation matters if it results in a poor patient experience.

If you have a bedside eSignature initiative underway, ponder these five important points before making your technology decisions. And if you want to make sure you’re taking the most thoughtful steps toward a better bedside patient experience, let’s talk!


Cody Strate

Written by Cody Strate

For more than 15 years, Cody has provided sales and marketing leadership with the goal of providing the smoothest, easiest, and most pleasurable customer experience imaginable. Cody is a Forbes Communication Council member and lives in Colorado with his wife, two kids, and two dogs.