It's time to digitize health records

Only a comprehensive approach to the digitization of medical records can bring appropriate solutions and ensure an optimal experience for patients, medical staff and other stakeholders.

The year 2020 brought a strong demand for change in the healthcare industry. As a result, the need to digitalize processes has increased, with the aim of enabling easier, faster and more optimal work for all medical staff. It is clear that the healthcare industry is often overburdened, therefore upgrades in information management are a logical step in the move towards more optimal work processes. Initiatives for digitization in healthcare institutions are already coming from all levels, not just from the top.

Although the process of digitization may seem demanding at first glance due to the sensitive nature of information, as healthcare professionals manage documents that contain very sensitive data, it can be carried out very successfully with a comprehensive and systematic approach and good knowledge of the legislation. Such an approach also ensures that the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information contained in documents is maintained throughout their life.

The management of medical records involves sensitive information, hence when moving to a digitized system, it is important to recognize and understand the potential risks and look for solutions that help prevent possible abuse.

The coronavirus crisis has forced us to work differently

The unpredictability of the coronavirus crisis has forced most activities, including healthcare – as one of the more exposed sectors – to work differently. A kind of digitalization leap has taken place that would probably not have happened for some time under ‘normal’ conditions. Working conditions, methods and approaches to work are now changing even faster, thus only flexibility and openness to change can allow us to keep up.

Risks and pitfalls of medical records in paper form

We all are stuck in our ways to some extent and we humans are such that at first we accept change – even if it is good for us – with restraint or even with great resistance. Therefore, in introducing change, it is crucial to raise employee awareness and highlight the risks to which we will be exposed if changes are not made.

The management of health records could be more efficient; most often it takes too much time to capture and process data, sometimes activities are duplicated or the same data has to be entered into several different information systems, and, as is the case with all paper documents, there is always a risk of them being lost or too much time being spent searching for necessary information. As a result, the experience of patients, medical staff and other stakeholders is not necessarily optimal, and medical personnel in particular are burdened with activities that could be automated.

In order to avoid all (or most) of the above pitfalls and risks, it is important to approach the process of digitization of documentation holistically and systematically and clearly define the needs and goals. This is the only way to gain the most from digitization and to have a desire to achieve even better operational and business results.

Advantages of digitizing healthcare documentation

In our experience, the digitization of healthcare documentation mainly results in easier and faster access to data, which in turn facilitates the exchange of data between all stakeholders, thus having a positive effect on faster access to treatment. Digitization also has a positive effect on the speed and efficiency of decisions within an organization.

The solutions implemented must not be an end in themselves, but rather through their simplicity, clarity and speed must facilitate employee work processes and enable them to be modernized and optimized. Therefore, due attention must be continuously paid to improving the user experience, or else the efforts may be in vain.

Examples of good practice speak for themselves

Digitalization of the process of submitting consent for organ donation is an example of good practice, which was implemented by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for the Transplantation of Organs and Tissues (Slovenia-transplant), in which Mikrocop was also involved. Until then, donors had described the non-user friendly process as the biggest obstacle to giving consent; now, however, it is available to all citizens in just a few clicks.

Our goal is to continue to help effectively solve challenges by managing and storing various forms of documents, thus relieving medical staff of tasks that could be automated or at least optimized.

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Miha Škrabar

Miha Škrabar is Technology Coordinator at Mikrocop, who works with his team of committed and competent specialists to help companies resolve the challenges of document and data digitization, capture and distribution, as well as physical storage and archiving. An advocate of continuous learning, Miha proactively lives Mikrocop's Go Digital mission.