For ages, hospitals and healthcare systems have operated on paper for all clinical documentation and patient-facing documents. Due to the evolution of technology and the appetite for cost savings, however, fully electronic documentation pathways are now more mainstream. 


Thanks to the HITECH Act of 2009, hospitals were required to adopt fully electronic medical record systems and fueling the meteoric rise of companies like Epic Systems, Cerner, and MEDITECH. However, these systems were largely focused on providing fully electronic clinical documentation solutions. Patient facing documents, such as Registration Consents, HIPAA Acknowledgement, MSP forms, and Informed Consents were still completed on paper.  

At Access eForms, we have provided patient electronic signature solutions to hospitals for 20 years (read here on the 20 Year Evolution of Patient Electronic Signature in Healthcare), but it has not eliminated certain paper-based problemsIf your healthcare system is still using paper-based Consents and other patient facing documents, it is likely that you will find yourself nodding your head in agreement as you read through these common issues. 

Top 6 Problems with Paper Patient Consent Forms 

  1. Lack of date & time stamps on consents 
  2. Rogue forms Replacing old consents with new consents is difficult 
  3. Lost paper informed consents 
  4. Procedure content management & compliance 
  5. Updating & training staff is time consuming 
  6. Wrong sticky labels on forms 


1. Lack of Date & Time Stamps on Consents

Easily the most common complaint we hear from our hospital customers seeking electronic patient signature solutions is the issue around the consistent capture of time and date stamps on paper consents. All too often, signed paper consents show up to the HIM department without a time and date stamp, which is a significant issue when Joint Commission comes calling.


2. Rogue Forms | Replacing Old Consents with New Consents is Difficult

Paper consents have been around hospitals ever since the day the doors first opened to their communities. Over time, a hospital’s consent forms are subject to many changes. It can be extremely challenging to sniff out all the old consent forms and replace them with the newer version. As a result, HIM often sees signed consent forms that are several versions out of date. This, too, will cause Joint Commission to give your hospital negative marks.


3. Lost Paper Informed Consents

Paper-based Informed Consents are notoriously difficult and problematic for hospitals. When paper Informed Consents are lost, it causes extremely costly delays in Surgical Services (Read: The Cost of a Lost Minute in the OR), frustrated patients, and an embittered surgical team.


4. Procedure Content Management & Compliance

Informed Consents are associated with a specific medical procedure and must contain information relating to that procedure, such as the description of the procedure, risks, and possible outcomes. Often, paper-based Informed Consents have blank spaces on the forms where this procedure-specific content is filled in by hand. Not only is this very time consuming, it also poses significant compliance issues. Your Compliance Department would prefer consistency with this procedure-specific content, but this is all but impossible when people are filling in information by hand.


5. Updating & Training Staff is Time Consuming

Your staff are responsible for being familiar with the contents of your consent forms so they can answer any questions the patient may have about the consent. Keeping staff adequately trained amidst the consistent changes to the consent form can be difficult, and this can leave your hospital vulnerable to providing a poor patient experience, or worse, a lawsuit.


6. Wrong sticky labels on forms

We often hear from HIM Managers about the significant pains associated with receiving a patient-signed consent form that has the wrong patient label on it. Once that consent form with the wrong patient label is scanned into the hospital’s electronic medical record system, it will be mis-indexed and sorted into the wrong patient’s electronic record. This can be extremely difficult to sort out, it consumes tremendous amounts of time, it frustrates everyone, and once again Joint Commission will not be happy.

Naturally, all these issues are remedied with a patient electronic signature solution that can handle all patient consents, from Registration to Radiology, Oncology to Obstetrics, Surgical Services, and more. If you are still suffering from issues associated with paper-based consent forms in Registration or at the bedside, Access can help with our EHR integrated eSignature solutions. If you would like to learn more, we have some great resources for you. Reach out to us for personalized help. 


Integrated Patient eSignature for  

Epic Systems 


Cerner (the Cerner Forms Suite is powered by Access eForms solutions) 

Patient eSignature by Department 


Surgical Services 


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.