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6 Best Practices for Healthcare Document Management

May 12, 2022
Author
Inkit Team

As a healthcare professional, you probably understand the importance of managing paperwork and patient documents. 

You also know how challenging this ongoing endeavor can be. It’s a daily responsibility that can quickly take up your valuable time — time that could be spent in patient care.

It’s time-consuming, but a necessary part of the job.

Manually filling in paperwork, double-checking compliance rules, and being incredibly detailed in your communications.

Fortunately, there’s a better way…

By including healthcare document management as part of your operational workflow, you’re overcoming a lot of these issues.

Doing so, you benefit from safely handling sensitive information on autopilot. While at the same time, being able to access your documents in one centralized place.

To help you make the most of healthcare document management, we’ll be looking into some of the best practices when using a document management system. 

While staying HIPAA compliant in your communications and not having to worry about storing documents securely at scale.

Whether you work with PDFs, traditional paperwork, or a mix of both, a document management system can greatly benefit your day-to-day operations.

And below, we’ll show you everything you need to know about using document management software as a healthcare professional.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Healthcare Document Management Overview And What You Need to Know
  • Top 6 Best Document Management Practices for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare Document Management Overview And What You Need to Know

First, what is a document management system, exactly? 

A document management system (DMS) is an electronic system that can help you efficiently store, manage, and view your documents. It stores the information in a database for easy retrieval and indexing. 

With the right document management software, you automate parts (if not the whole thing) of the document creation lifecycle. From document generation and document creation lifecycle to secure storage.

designed image that shows instant document storage

This makes it easier to find, manage, and share electronic documents across the enterprise. 

A DMS also effectively reduces the paperwork volume that a hospital uses for its document management needs.

With both doctors and patients using your hospital’s DMS, you have greater control over patient data at scale. Your DMS may also enable you to collect better quality data for improved outcomes measures. 

Read on to learn how a hospital or medical organization can use a document management system to improve its operations.

Healthcare document management benefits

But first, a few other reasons why your hospital might benefit from a good document management system may include:

  • Centralized documents: Providing a centralized location for all documents in the hospital makes operations easier for everyone, from the triage to the doctor. Companies use electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) to centralize documents and securely manage business records as well as customer communications. See our full guide to switching to an electronic document record management system for a more detailed overview of this.
  • Consistent care: Because everything is stored in a central location, workers from every department within the organization will have the same information, thus ensuring consistent healthcare.
  • Improved efficiency: With everyone in your hospital using the same DMS, there’s no need to manually access multiple databases or different platforms.
  • Reduced risk: Electronic records are more secure than paper records, so you can reduce risk by digitizing your documents into an electronic format. Instead of password protecting documents manually, everything would be encrypted in one place on the cloud. To make things more secure, you can set simply up user permissions and different access settings.
  • Automated workflow: With document management systems, workflows are automated. Meaning, manual tasks like sending faxes or printing labels are automated with just a few clicks of the mouse.
  • Streamlined billing: For many patients, billing is the most worrisome aspect of healthcare. With a DMS, the billing process is far more efficient and streamlined for greater convenience. 

With a hospital’s DMS, patients won’t have to visit multiple locations in order to get this information; they can simply log into their account at any time. 

This will also create a more streamlined experience for the patients. This way, it’s much easier for a doctor to repeat information a different doctor told the patient concerning their condition. 

Compared to the alternative of them having to find the other doctor and relaying the information manually.

The hospital could also set up parameters within the DMS that would allow only certain doctors to view certain types of records, which would help ensure patient privacy when needed.

This is what’s known as user access and permission settings in a document management system and it’s a pretty important feature. For more info on that, see our full guide to user roles and permissions.

Long story short is that you can add employees with the right role, access, and permissions with regard to what they can do in the document management system.

So, not everyone will be able to edit or delete documents, based on their access.

manage who has access to editing your documents

Top 6 Best Document Management Practices for Healthcare Professionals

Effective document management in the healthcare industry is more than simply improving the storage of paperwork. 

It’s important to make sure that you pay close attention to any and all changes to this documentation, including their creation, editing, and distribution.

Below, you will find 6 of the best practices for DMS that every healthcare provider should follow. 

If you’re not already employing these practices, you should do all that you can to start doing so right away.

The sooner you implement them, the sooner you can rest easy knowing that you’re compliant in the necessary areas.

In no order, the best practices for using a medical document management software include:

  1. Establishing proper MDS control protocols.
  2. Creating document tracking for clear communication.
  3. Showing industry-standard compliance (HIPAA, FINRA risk management, etc.).
  4. Making necessary requirement changes and updating organization guidelines as needed.
  5. Easy and convenient online collaboration.
  6. Appropriate systems integration, depending on your current software and tech stack.

Now, let’s take a look at each step in detail.

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Establishing DMS control protocols

Since you’re handling sensitive patient data, it’s essential you put a separate system that ensures the safety and security of that information. 

The need for such a system is two-fold:

  1. It keeps your patients’ personal information secure.
  2. It ensures that you are compliant with government regulations (whether it’s HIPAA or industry-specific regulations like FINRA and GxP, or international privacy standards like GDPR).

This will ultimately protect the data and communications of healthcare practice, your staff, and your patients. 

Creating document tracking

Mitigating risk is just as important as patient security. 

You want to make sure that everyone in your medical facility follows strict guidelines while handling the document management system. And you want to be able to track these document records if necessary.

Moreover, you want to make sure that everyone who uses your DMS has reviewed and signed documents pertaining to your policies. 

That way, you can show proof of compliance if and when requested by governing bodies. Down to who opened, edited, and/or managed a specific document.

This is also where user access and role permissions settings help as well!

Showing compliance in document management and communications

As a healthcare provider, it is imperative that your organization remains compliant with HIPAA regulations. 

But there are other regulatory entities that require compliance, as well. Whether it's an industry specific regulation or an international privacy standard like GDPR.

These include but aren’t limited to:

  • US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
  • And more.

Whether it’s HIPAA or other regulations, you need to show that your organization’s policies line up with the industry standards.

With the right DMS as part of your workflow operations, it’s much easier to show your compliance. Whether it’s part of your document management or customer communications.

Prompt requirement changes

The medical industry is ever-changing. As such, new guidelines and updated regulations are a regular matter that healthcare organizations must keep up with.

If you’re using an out-of-date document management system, manually updating all essential records can be a lengthy and tedious task.

But with a modern DMS that cares about your industry specifically, you can instantly make the necessary adjustment across all of your medical documentation. 

Doing so, you will be able to better serve and commit to your patients. Your time won’t be taken up tending to tedious tasks, which will benefit both you and your patients.

Many of today’s document management systems make it easy to adjust and apply changes with minimal effort. In fact, it’s almost instant.

For example, you might need to update your facility’s guidelines about wearing facemasks when entering the building.

Rather than manually edit thousands of documents, you can simply make the correct edit and apply it to all of the necessary documents

This time-saving feature is a significant benefit to healthcare organizations everywhere, as it allows you to provide your efforts elsewhere. 

Online collaboration

The healthcare industry is at its best when it pools efforts from various fields and sectors. 

It makes sense, then, to implement online collaboration as part of your document management system. 

You can also use your online collaboration to connect with patients on a more personable level. 

Many patients prefer to take advantage of online portals that let them manage their medical needs. And in some cases, patients have a direct point of contact with their doctors. 

Which is much more convenient than phone calls or other outdated collaboration.

Systems integration

One of the most important things you can do when using a DMS has to do with its systems integration.

This step makes it easy for different departments to access, view, and edit patient documents. Ideally, while collaborating together.

What’s more, this key component serves to reduce patient wait time exponentially. 

Rather than sending the patient to another department or making them come back after you’ve retrieved the necessary information, your DMS will take care of it instantly.

Conclusion

The medical industry is constantly changing to ensure better security, patient privacy, and health care

Today, everything is centered on the internet and online functionality. 

If your healthcare organization is still using an outdated document management system, chances are, it will become increasingly difficult to provide optimal care.

Which is also why you see so many patients complaining about the slow bureaucracy and document management of many hospitals.

As such, it’s important to consider investing in a modern DMS. 

With it, you will have the necessary resources to better serve your patients. 

You will see improved wait times, higher patient satisfaction rates, increased security, and much more.

Now, if you’re wondering where to go from here:

Inkit Render is a HIPAA compliant document management system with a built-in security platform. 

With it, healthcare organizations (and not only) can confidently reach members and applicants with time-sensitive communications and documents.

If you're looking for an automatic solution to render paperless statements, validate customer information, and deliver information in secure communications…

See how Inkit helps the healthcare industry, its key benefits, and how it works here!

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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