Organizations are embracing the power of digital technology in healthcare, but there is one notable (and avoidable) exception — paper consent forms.
In recent years, many industries have started making the transition to digital. Healthcare organizations, however, face challenges that make that transition difficult. While most organizations see the benefits of electronic health records, which have been mandatory in the industry for years, healthcare has been slow to adopt other new technologies.
This is understandable. The number of hurdles healthcare organizations have historically faced when adopting new processes is high, and competing technologies across hospital systems and medical equipment have made it difficult to create a unified, cohesive workflow.
With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing much of patient care online — and patients increasingly wanting to see digital healthcare options — traditional approaches may finally be changing.
Embracing Digital Technology in Healthcare
While telehealth was already growing in popularity before the pandemic, it quickly became mainstream as the virus spread through the country. Until recently, reimbursements on telehealth visits were so low that most hospitals hadn’t invested in the technology to provide this offering to patients.
As a result, there was no real incentive to switch over to virtual visits — even if they were far more convenient for everyone involved.
Now that everyone is staying home whenever possible, virtual visits are not only convenient but also safer. Healthcare organizations are pushing telehealth in a way they never have before, and states are enacting laws to ensure more access to these services.
Telehealth’s evolution has become more of a revolution, with the industry moving in record time to make it an essential part of patient care. The new challenge for healthcare organizations will be transforming the rest of their workflows to match it. While the pandemic might be responsible for pushing healthcare into the future, we won’t return to the past when the world gets back to its (new) normal.
Why a Digital-First Approach Is Crucial
What are these other workflows, then? One of the most significant is informed consent. You might have the best electronic health records (EHR) system and virtual visit technology in the business, but a reliance on paper-based informed consent processes will create unnecessary bottlenecks and put undue burdens on both patients and staff. These documents that have to be filled out and signed by both patient and doctor before every procedure are a critical part of keeping care compliant, but they’re collected on physical paper more often than not. Why does this matter?
Consider this: If a patient were set to undergo a skin biopsy, he or she would go into their provider’s office to have a pre-operation appointment and sign all of the necessary consent forms. In light of the pandemic, these appointments can now take place completely via the phone or a computer. But there is still one obstacle to this process being completely virtual — signing the physical paper consent document.
Suppose a healthcare organization still relies on paper consent forms instead of electronic informed consent. In that case, the patient has to print out the form from an email, sign it, and either mail it back or (more likely) physically bring it to the office. This undermines the efficiency and safety of the digital approach solely because informed consent wasn’t electronic.
Now is the time for healthcare providers to transform their workflows from top to bottom and adopt a digital-first approach to informed consent. It can create more efficient workflows and move your organization further into digital healthcare. Reach out today to learn more about our solution!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dessiree Paoli is a senior solution manager at Interlace Health, a company that transforms workflows by providing clinicians and patients with digital healthcare solutions. She has more than 18 years of experience in driving strategic marketing initiatives and developing integrated campaigns. She also has worked in healthcare for more than 12 years, including experience with a large children’s hospital, a national urgent care chain, and several HIT organizations.