Paper Documentation Difficult to Eliminate, But Worth the Effort

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

Paper Documentation Difficult to Eliminate, But Worth the EffortEven after the adoption of an agency management solution, how much of your agency’s workload is still processed through paper forms?

Treasure Coast Hospice, which serves two Florida counties from its base in Stuart, had 130 paper forms, including a paper medical record and a few documented workflows that differed from location to location. In addition, much of the clinical staff had minimal computer skills.

The move to eliminate paper, what CIO Ted Charron calls “being all in,” is an ongoing process that involves technology hardware and software, as well as deliberation and collaboration among agency staff. Charron outlines these key milestones:

  • Clinical management agreement on roles and job descriptions
  • Work flows developed
  • Processes written, reviewed and approved
  • Custom forms developed
  • Training materials developed
  • Training implemented
  • Go live for first training class
  • Monitor performance and provide remedial training as needed

Before certain documents could be eliminated, subject matter experts needed to document workflows and create detailed training documentation that showed staff exactly what to do during specific agency processes.

Everyone went through a three-hour basic computer class before taking specialty classes based on job description. Class length and content varied by role. Charron says the agency quickly learned that training needed to be broken up – one day of training and then time to hone emerging skills before another training day.

Subject matter experts also were critical to shadow clinicians to make sure workflows were being followed. Super users formed the IT department’s front line to answer quick questions and provide peer-to-peer guidance. The agency used per diem staff to fill in while staff was in training. It also recognized that productivity would go down during initial use, and it reduced clinician workload.

The goals of the project were three-fold: to automate workflows as much as possible; to push as much work onto McKesson Hospice™ software and other agency software to help reduce paper forms; and to help eliminate the paper medical record.

So how did Treasure Coast Hospice do?  “Have we hit the goals? Not yet, but we’ve met goals in many ways,” Charron says. “We were making 250,000 printed copies a month, but our printing costs are going down month after month.”

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