An overreliance on paper forms leads to inefficient workflows and impacts patient care. Here are a few reasons to embrace electronic informed consent.
You can’t perform a procedure or surgery on a patient without informed consent, yet one study found that nearly two-thirds of patients don’t have their signed consent forms when they go in for surgery. As a result, those forms need to be signed and collected all over again. This is a troubling trend — one largely caused by an over-reliance on paper processes.
When healthcare organizations use paper to collect and record information, the risk is high that it could be lost, damaged, or misplaced. Staff members might accidentally write incorrect information or miss important fields altogether. In addition to those risks, it also tends to create an inefficient workflow.
Residents responsible for obtaining and delivering consent forms, for example, might find themselves called away to other areas of the hospital before their tasks are finished. Filled-out forms could then be hastily stuffed into their pockets and forgotten altogether — at least until the OR comes looking for them before a procedure.
Unfortunately, this story illustrates a common theme across many healthcare organizations that is no fault of their own. Just think of the numerous steps involved in creating, maintaining, and managing paper records. From printing to labeling to obtaining signatures to verifying to scanning to uploading into a patient file, there are so many possibilities for things to go amiss. Healthcare can be a stressful and complex field, and paper forms just aren’t conducive to the work providers do.
Missing Consent Forms: More Than a Minor Inconvenience
A single missing consent form might not seem like a huge deal, but consider what happens if one form goes missing every month. One every week? One every day? These hypothetical scenarios are realities for many medical institutions. When the Joint Commission surveyed hospitals in 2016, more than 500 were found to have compliance issues related to informed consent forms.
That said, what seems like a potentially small problem can quickly become a serious one financially, strategically, and emotionally for healthcare organizations and staff members that struggle to meet compliance standards. According to one study, nearly half of all clinicians reported feeling burned out regularly, and the leading cause of that burnout was paperwork. When paperwork goes missing, roughly 14% of surgeries get delayed.
This is costly: Every single minute of delay in an operating room can cost a hospital $37. By that logic, a surgery pushed back only 10 minutes would cost a provider an extra $370. For a hospital with roughly 500 beds, that could add up to more than $3,000,000 annually.
What Providers Can Do
Thankfully, it’s never too late for healthcare organizations to start using electronic informed consent forms and remove paper from the equation altogether. Implementing a process that relies on electronic informed consent will positively impact patient care and improve the lives of your staff and leadership. How?
- Mitigating the cost of surgical delays.
- Decreasing the time staff members spend processing paperwork.
- Reducing the cost of paper and processing.
Is your healthcare organization still relying on paper for the important process of informed consent? Contact us today to learn more about moving to an electronic process.
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.