In order to be more environmentally conscious, doctors and medical centers across the U.S. are switching to paperless document management systems. This change will reduce errors and costs for the centers.
Medical professionals deal with thousands of papers a day from a patient’s chart to prescription tickets. A single writing error could end in a client being overcharged or ordering the wrong medicine; but by recording everything electronically, money and energy are saved while drastically reducing errors. Across the U.S., several practitioners have made the switch. While some doctors are still warming up to the technology, about 70.6 percent of Wisconsin’s office-based doctors used electronic systems in 2012, according to Bloomberg. While the national average is 39.6 percent, Wisconsin has the largest amount of users of any state. Massachusetts has the largest amount of users for electronically prescribing medication – at 77 percent for 2012.
While the average doctor may see costs around $30,000 for hardware and software, the program has been shown to yield a positive return on investment. Over a five-year period,doctors could see an $86,400 net benefit, according to a study by the American Journal of Medicine. The switch helps doctors save on transcription costs and eliminates the need for extra staff for managing revenue.
Another factor driving doctors to adopt digital solutions is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was passed by Congress in 2009. Within the legislation was the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which provided doctors with incentives for going paperless. By investing and demonstrating the software, the medical practices would be reimbursed up to $44,000 per doctor, according to The Journal Gazette. Furthermore, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will be reduced to the medical professionals that do not adopt the system by 2015.
Although some centers are meeting this change with some difficulty, the overall adoption rate is continually increasing and they are seeing positive results. About 267,000 of the nation’s 522,000 doctors are signed up for the HITECH benefits, and 129,000 of those applicants are already receiving payments, Peter Ashkenaz, a spokesman for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, told Phillyburbs.com. As this number continues to grow, the practices are seeing significant cost savings.
How patients benefit from document management
Many healthcare providers stick to the classic manila folders for its familiarity. However, electronic systems help doctors to better connect to patients. Rather than digging through piles of paperwork, the information is readily available on a computer, or tablet in some cases, and can be easily shared with the patient.
“Electronic records are intended to improve patient care by giving physicians better access to clinical information, improve physician office efficiency and workflow, and reduce duplicate tests and clinical assessments,” The Brampton Guardian noted.
Organizing medical documents is crucial in hospital and office environments. The information could help to prescribe the correct medicine and even save the patient’s life. Going paperless is another way for medical professionals to quickly find the information and accurately maintain it.