Hospital staff and anxious patients have many forms to complete before elective surgery.

Even though paper forms slow down staff productivity, waste money, introduce unnecessary risk, and add little to a positive patient experience, many hospitals have not adopted an eForm management solution. According to federal statistics, as of 2015, about 80 percent of acute care hospitals had an EHR using digitized surgical consent forms―up from less than 10 percent in 2008. That still leaves 20 percent of hospitals using outdated paper forms.

The problem is that unlike an eForm management solution, paper can only be in one place at one time―which can be problematic when dealing with the surgical consent process. Additionally, paper surgical consent forms may be incomplete or illegible. A recent JAMA study found that 66 percent of patients were missing signed consent forms at surgery, causing delays for up to 14 percent of operative cases―a major concern for both hospital providers and patients, given the complexity of some surgical procedures and the associated liability risks.

The reason why so many hospitals are adopting eForm management solutions for surgical consent? The benefits.

Keep Hospital in Compliance, Prevent Lost or Improperly Completed Forms

Recent figures suggest that missing surgical consent forms cost hospitals about $580,000 per year. That’s a significant amount of revenue that could be allocated for departmental or staff use, and the loss hurts ROI.

Further, missing or incomplete consent forms can have a ripple effect downstream due to delays affecting the surgical team which has to wait and the patient who may become more anxious or ill.

Digitized consent forms ensure a smoother process and are immediately archivable, which enables better compliance.

Promote Patient Safety by Ensuring the Patient Understands the Consent

Hospitals with an eForm management solution in place enable more patient-to-physician interaction when discussing surgical procedures and potential outcomes.

When the patient fully comprehends all that the surgical consent form entails, they can ask questions and raise any concerns or bring up information that may be inaccurate. This enables patients to have an in-depth conversation with their surgeons that contributes to informed decision-making and better patient safety.

Manage Risk and Reduce Liability

Digitized surgical consent forms help mitigate risk by ensuring that forms are always the most up-to-date version. They can be customized with validation features verifying that the patient actually comprehends the consent form and acknowledges that the intended surgical procedure is what they discussed with the surgeon.

Also, because everyone on the surgical team can view the eForm management solution in real time, there are more eyes to spot inaccuracies and reduce liability.

Deliver a Better Patient Experience

A patient waiting for an elective surgical procedure is likely dealing with some form of anxiety. The longer they wait, the more likely they are to build up more anxiety. Digital surgical consent forms can reduce patient intake times, allow for more interaction with the surgical team and reduce wait times―all of which contribute to a better patient experience.

Boost Staff Productivity

Processing important patient and billing information manually requires a lot of time and energy from your staff and has big impacts on patient care, payment, and authorization of services to name a few. Digitizing patient surgical consent information is huge in terms of improving staff productivity because it eliminates the need for manual entry processes.

Automated workflow software allows staff to capture surgical consent signatures digitally which eliminates the need to scan them manually and leads directly to better archiving, while helping hospital providers to focus on better patient care―both pre- and post-operative.

Cut Paper and Costs

It’s estimated that U.S. businesses spend about $8 billion annually managing paper, and on average, $220 per lost document.

With hospitals already running on razor-thin profit margins, that’s a lot of lost revenue wasted on paper forms. Some estimates set hospital return on revenue (ROR) at as little as 2 percent as of 2013.

Hospitals that adopt an eForm management solution for surgical consent benefit in many ways. From time savings and accessibility to compliance and patient safety, the decision to adopt a digital solution is in many ways a no-brainer and a necessary ROI booster.

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Randy Hippe

Written by Randy Hippe

A true veteran of the industry, Randy has sold electronic forms software to hospitals for more than 20 years. He has been a trusted advisor throughout, consulting with his clients to ensure that the right solution is always in place—so they can cut costs, and most importantly, improve patient care and service as quickly as possible.