The Progression Towards Patient Electronic Signature
For over two decades, Access has helped hospitals move away from pre-printed forms and sticky labels to paperless processes supported by healthcare-focused patient e-Signature technology solutions. In the beginning of our journey as a healthcare company, hospitals were happy to simply have a forms-on-demand printing solution with dynamic bar-coding capabilities that would eliminate the vast stockpiles of pre-printed forms and prevent them from having to use sticky labels to apply patient information to a form. Pre-printed form issues were costly for all hospitals, but they were especially costly for multi-hospital systems, as forms management proved to have significant logistical challenges. For many years, these solutions were the primary value that Access eForms had to offer. However, in this industry, you have to innovate or die, and we chose the former over the latter. To that end, our next big focus was to help hospitals not just replace pre-printed forms with forms that could be printed on demand, but rather eliminate paper entirely with our paperless solutions.
The First Application of Patient eSignature | An Eye Towards Patient Access
The most effective way for us to help hospitals achieve their paperless objectives was to focus on paper-based patient consent form problems. By building highly secure patient electronic signature solutions for healthcare and applying that towards the patient admissions and registration process, we were able to help hospitals eliminate millions of pieces of paper per year. The value of patient eSignature in hospitals proved to be tremendous in the way of saving money, saving time, and improving the patient experience. Patient electronic signature solutions applied to the Admissions and Registration process are well-accepted solutions with a solid “best-practice” set of guidelines that can be followed to ensure success. Check out our eSignature strategy guide.
Expanding Patient e-Signature to the Bed-Side for Informed Consents
In recent years, the focus on patient electronic signature (eSignature) application has transitioned from the Admitting and Registration areas to applications at the bedside, most notably with patient electronic signature Informed Consents. Paper-based Informed Consents inevitably get lost and in turn can cause costly delays in the Operating Room. Fortunately, these delays are all but eliminated by applying patient electronic signature towards Informed Consents and converting to a paperless process.
The Next Frontier for Patient Electronic Signature: Remote eSignature & Contactless Check-In
The next frontier for the primary utilization of patient electronic signature solutions in healthcare has been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are focusing their efforts on keeping facilities as safe as possible and reducing opportunities for the transmission of COVID-19. As such, having congested waiting rooms is not ideal for reducing the chances of transmission or the inherent fear patients may have as they enter the hospital. So how does patient e-Signature help hospitals reduce the time patients spend in the waiting room? The answer to this question is found in extending patient electronic signature capability to your patients outside of the walls of your hospital. By extending electronically signable consents and other documents to your patients prior to their entry into your hospital, you are able to accomplish two critical milestones towards your efforts of reducing COVID transmission. First, you have a contactless check-in process for your patients once they arrive at your hospital. Historically, the patient would need to sign their consents and other forms via ink on paper or through an eSignature capture device. With contactless check-in made possible by patient electronic signature technology, your patients don’t have to touch the surface of anything that would be shared between patients or that would be handled by your hospital staff. Secondly, the time it takes to process a patient through Admissions is expedited significantly. This increases operational efficiency in a normal situation, not to mention during a pandemic, by having patients processed through Admissions quickly, hospitals reduce the time patients must spend in the shared waiting room space. Patient electronic signature that enables a rapid and contactless registration processes, combined with other safety measures your hospital is taking, can greatly improve efforts to reduce the spread of COVID. Furthermore, there is something to be said about what this does for your patient’s experience; anything you can do to reduce patient anxiety is a worthy project.
Patient eSignature solutions are not new to the healthcare world, but the application of this technology is still expanding into new frontiers. As you evaluate your hospital’s paperless objectives associated with Registration, Informed Consents at the bedside, or contactless check-in as part of your telehealth strategy, there are a couple things you should consider. First and foremost, take note that not all patient eSignature solutions are created equal; some are not built for the highly security-conscious field of healthcare. Secondly, your users live inside their electronic health record (ex. Cerner, Epic, MEDITECH, etc.), so an electronic signature solution that integrates seamlessly with your EHR is critical to usability.
At Access eForms, we have 20 years of patient electronic signature experience under our belt, and if we can be of any assistance whatsoever with your paperless goals, please let us know.
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