In his book Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, Scott Galloway explains how the pandemic compressed a ten-year period into the span of a single year, making “non-essential” businesses become essential and “essential” business even more so. Some companies were propelled forward while others were forced to shutter their doors. Hospitals, however, made for an interesting case study during the pandemic--they were essential to their communities, but their primary revenue streams, largely associated with surgical services and elective procedures, were cut off.
Furthermore, hospitals had to adapt quickly, incorporating telehealth as a technology and as a practice, so traditional purchasing pathways were loosened significantly. Hospitals that loosened their purchasing protocols to bring in new essential technologies in the early days of the pandemic are now dealing with some of the fallout of those purchases. In this article, we’ll discuss how this manifested in terms of patient eSignature technology within hospitals.
As the pandemic gripped the nation, the notions of comfort held afloat by the notion “because we’ve always done it that way” were significantly challenged. Hospitals had not seen anything like it before. The pandemic forced rapid adaptation and innovation because those traits became a necessity for survival. As a result, the traditional pathways of researching, selecting, and purchasing technologies went out the window. The necessity for speed was clear, and this helped many hospitals shift their operations quickly to better serve their patients and communities during the pandemic. It’s nothing short of extraordinary how quickly hospitals evolved from monolithic, red-tape-laden organizations into swift and agile entities that could meet the needs of their patients and communities when they needed them most. We are starting to see the dust settle a bit now that the availability of vaccines has made us hopeful for the end of the pandemic, and those hasty technology purchases may need to be addressed as hospitals plot a path forward.
The Unintended Consequences
Our focus is providing patient electronic signature solutions to hospitals, so naturally we have keen insights into trends in this area. During the early days of the pandemic, hospitals needed to innovate by eliminating paper consent forms to improve efficiency, save money, and create a contactless check-in process. The problem is that because patient consent forms manifest in many areas of the hospital, from Registration, to Surgical Services, to Obstetrics, and Radiology, and so on, buying power and authority were dispersed to department heads, who scoured the market to find any solution that boasted an eSignature capacity that best met their individual needs.
As a result, many hospitals find themselves anywhere from three to five electronic signature vendors. Unfortunately, many of these vendors are not focused on healthcare, which causes problems that hospitals are now having to come to terms with. Here are a few of the fundamental issues that applying consumer-grade patient electronic signature solutions are posing for hospitals now:
- Security risk | Many of these consumer-grade vendors are not built to the security standards of hospitals, and this poses an immediate risk.
- Lack of capabilities | Many hospital forms are complicated and require more input than simple patient signature (ex. drop down lists, radio groups, free text fields, etc.)
- Lack of expandability | As a result of a lack of capabilities, these consumer-grade patient eSignature solutions cannot be expanded to cover basic consent requirements across many departments.
- Lack of EHR integration | If you want to ensure a difficult time in getting clinicians to adopt a new technology, make it only available outside of their EHR experience. Clinicians live in their EHR, and seamlessly integrating technologies into those ecosystems is the desired state.
- Multiple vendors to manage | The Information Technology department at your average hospital can have well over a hundred technology vendors to manage, and now they are finding themselves managing multiple patient electronic signature vendors that all do the same thing.
Dealing with the Fallout
When it comes to patient electronic signature and other pandemic technology purchases, hospitals are now having to assess their current state and make the appropriate changes as they sail into the future. We are seeing these hospitals recognize that they may have multiple vendors that serve the exact same function; the only difference is that they are applied in different areas of the hospital. This realization is quickly bringing them to the inflection point of consolidation. As these hospitals look to their stable of patient eSignature vendors, they are holding them up against the five fundamental issues mentioned above, and frankly, most of them are falling short when it comes to security.
Patient eSignature as a Platform
Access is the only purpose-built patient electronic signature platform for hospitals that seamlessly integrates with your EHR and has all the capabilities to meet the eSignature needs of your hospital. If you are looking to consolidate multiple patient e-Signature vendors, expand your paperless initiatives to bed-side Informed Consents, or extend patient electronic signature capabilities to patients outside of your hospital as part of a contactless check-in initiative, we can help.
Access eForms has over 20 years of hospital specific eSignature experience across Epic, Cerner, and MEDITECH systems. If we can be of any help as you pursue, plan for, or consider an eSignature solution, please do not hesitate to reach out. It is our pleasure to help hospitals achieve their goals and provide the superior care that their respective communities deserve.
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