At the annual MEDITECH user event known as MUSE, I had the opportunity to present with Judy Steiner, the IT director at Halifax Health. Our education session shared how the hospital expanded its use of Access eSignature solutions to the clinical setting, recreating the paperless process it established in Registration.

Before we talked about the expansion from Registration to clinical, though, we started the presentation by recommending to audience members where they should start. As in, if their hospital didn’t currently have an eSignature solution in place in any department, where should they launch first?

Judy and I shared that a hospital’s best place to start leveraging patient eSignature solutions is in Registration. There are two key reasons we recommend this department.

  1. Implementing electronic patient forms in Registration is a relatively turnkey process, which means the hospital staff can be up and running fast. This creates an immediate “win” and momentum for adoption. A track record of success may help down the road when the hospital is ready to expand electronic forms to the clinical setting.
  2. An eSignature solution in Registration can help the hospital save a lot of paper with little effort. We did a quick poll of audience members and found that most providers ask patients to sign at least five hospital forms in Registration. As an example, a hospital that cares for 100,000 patients a year would eliminate 500,000 pieces of paper (and the associated sticky labels) with an eSignature solution – in just the first 12 months.

Preventing the ripple effect

Once a hospital establishes that track record of success in Registration, where should their eSignature solution be installed next?

The clinical setting. Specifically, Surgical Services.

Arguably, the biggest problem with paper-based Informed Consents is that they’re often misplaced, which causes an array of issues from lost time and money, to a poor experience for clinicians and patients alike.

Using eSignature for Informed Consents with Surgical Services helps ensure procedures stay on time. A delayed surgery can cause a ripple effect that impacts everything from patient and clinician satisfaction to team dynamics and revenue.

JAMA found that 14 percent of surgeries start late because of missing paper Informed Consents. The average delay is about 22 minutes and it costs a hospital $60 to $120 for every late minute, depending on the procedure’s complexity.

This example shows the annual impact that delays can have on a provider:

  • A hospital does 10,000 surgeries a year
  • An estimated 14% -- or 1,400 procedures -- will be delayed because of missing paper forms
  • The average delay will be 22 minutes each or 30,800 total minutes
  • The conservative cost of every delayed minute is $60
  • 30,800 X $60 = $1.85 million

In an era where providers are closely watching costs, an eSignature solution can help a provider recoup nearly $1.85 million – just by eliminating lost paperwork and minimizing the risk of a delay.

As one of the MUSE audience members said: It’s a game-changer.  

But there’s another benefit to expanding the eSignature solution to the Surgical Suite – camaraderie. Another clinician at the session shared that when a surgery is delayed, the surgical team at her hospital turns inward and starts to blame each other. This isn’t the ideal dynamic for a team working together on something as complicated – and risky – as surgery.

If your hospital is thinking about an eSignature solution, start with Registration. Once your team has some early wins and is ready to expand, look to the clinical setting, especially the OR.

By employing an eSignature solution in these two areas alone, your organization can cut costs, prevent lost forms and delays, all while boosting satisfaction and protecting revenue.

We think you’ll agree: It’s a game-changer.


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.