By moving away from paper processes and implementing a digital-first approach, medical professionals can make an impact on patient care.
Last year, a study conducted with 551 orthopedic patients aimed to answer one key question: “Why is educating patients important?” Participants were surveyed about their satisfaction with their care and then given a test to determine how well they understood their upcoming treatment. Six months later, patients took another survey to assess how they had fared.
The study consistently found that patients who were informed enough to take a more active role in their care decisions were not only much happier with their care, but they also ended up with better results. Because medical regulations require healthcare organizations to obtain informed consent before every procedure, these results should be encouraging. In theory, at least.
There’s a problem: Informed consent processes are far from consistent in healthcare. Only 36% of patients in the study were found to be well-informed about their care. Despite everyone having to sign similar consent forms before receiving treatment, the actual quality of the information patients received varied widely.
There are numerous reasons someone might not be properly informed about a procedure. They can vary from doctor to doctor, patient to patient, and hospital to hospital, which makes this concern hard to address on a larger scale. However, specific operational improvements can help healthcare organizations focus more on engaging patients in their care.
One of those involves informed consent and, specifically, moving away from paper consent forms and implementing electronic informed consent. This one change can make a big difference because it helps clinicians save time, work more efficiently, and focus more on care.
How Going Digital Puts the Emphasis Back on People
With electronic informed consent, healthcare professionals can spend more time on care and less on paperwork. Electronic forms can automatically be populated with relevant information, eliminating the burden for staff members who normally have to write in the same details they already have on file for every one of these documents.
This is a small difference for a single form, but it adds up to a lot of time saved when you think of how often your team has to obtain informed consent. On top of that, electronic forms reduce the risk of human error and of misplaced or lost files — all of which can affect patient care.
While electronic informed consent won’t directly let patients take more ownership of their healthcare decisions or better engage with their providers, it will help providers gather and store their data more accurately and efficiently. Ultimately, this shift will give providers more time to devote to care. By taking a digital-first approach to consent, healthcare organizations can free up time to focus on what matters most: the people.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help digitize your informed consent process.