All hospitals, no matter their location, size, affiliation or specialty, battle inefficiencies. Often, these inefficiencies take similar shapes – especially when the hospital system relies on paper-based documents and record-keeping, which increases the margin of error for already over-worked doctors and administrators. Throughout medical records, accounts payable and finance, patient care, facilities management, and all of the many other departments it takes to run a large healthcare enterprise, hospital employees are recognizing the value of making the switch to digital processes in an effort to save time and money.
Two of these facilities in the UK, Alder Hey Children’s and Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust, and Ramsay Health Care UK chose to invest in process and content management solutions to streamline their operations. Alder Hey, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest children’s hospitals, provides care for over 200,000 patients each year. Liverpool Women’s, which specializes in the health of women and their babies, is the largest women’s hospital of its kind in Europe. Ramsay Health Care UK is one of the leading providers of independent hospital services in England, with a network of 22 acute hospitals.
Digitizing a million patient records
The IT team at Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s Hospital recognized that by removing the reliance on paper-based documents and processes in favor of a digital system, they could improve the quality of patient care, as well as achieve greater operational efficiency and associated cost savings.
With more than a million paper records on file, the challenge was considerable. Still, the team chose to implement an enterprise content management (ECM) system to manage the records, partially due to the ECM system’s ability to seamlessly integrate with the hospitals’ MEDITECH clinical patient information system.
“We needed to find a technology that could quickly integrate with MEDITECH and our other core systems without having to make a huge investment,” says Dr. Zafar Chaudry, CIO, Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust.
Today, the ECM system has been fully integrated with MEDITECH at the hospitals, providing clinicians with instant access to relevant patient information that lives outside the MEDITECH system. Although the migration of a million records onto the ECM system is an ongoing process, benefits are already being realized.
“The biggest benefit for clinical staff is having a single view of all the information they need pertaining to a patient’s care, in one place,” Dr. Chaudry says.
With ECM, the hospitals also benefit from cost reduction within medical records management, a more effective operation through an enhanced process and workflow, and improved clinical governance. The project has already resulted in a 70 percent reduction in scanning time and a 40 percent decrease in touch time when utilizing the solution to seek information.
Processing 250,000 invoices per year
Ramsay Health Care UK’s head office in Bedford is home to the company’s finance team, which deals with more than 250,000 invoices and credit notes each year. Since 2004, Ramsay managed this mass of information and paperwork by employing the services of a third-party company. However, this method was expensive, time-consuming and inflexible. Mail deliveries from the other offices took days to arrive, making the process even slower.
The team recognized that speeding up mail processing would save a considerable amount of money and improve the operational efficiency of the finance department. Furthermore, the team wanted to streamline invoice approval and query resolution.
Since implementing process management, the finance team now takes receipt of the mail as before, but is able to capture the information using the document imaging capabilities within the system. Using the powerful workflow functionality within the ECM software, documents are then directly routed to queues where employees are able to review them and take action.
“The new system provides total transparency from the very start to the end of the process. We have clear insight into who is responsible for what document and can closely monitor the progress and resolution of every inquiry at every stage. There is also complete reassurance that documents will not be lost in transit,” says David Carrington, Ramsay’s Finance Manager.
By streamlining the processing of invoices and credit notes, the finance team is now able to collect and make payments much faster. This provides better control over expenditure and income and delivers a much higher standard of service, not only to other locations within the organization, but also to its suppliers, partners and valued customers. Ramsay Health Care UK has been particularly impressed with the control employees have over the management of its business processes.
Since implementing process and content management systems, both hospital systems have enjoyed the expected benefits of digitized process, as well as realized benefits that have helped them battle secondary inefficiencies, to the delight of executives and clinicians.
“[The streamlined] solution makes our processes faster and gives us better control over them, allowing us to quickly adapt the setup according to our changing business needs. It is far more cost-effective to complete them, especially as we are no longer outsourcing our scanning,” Carrington says.
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