“It’s ironic: Experts in health IT concur that a major reason for healthcare systems shifted from paper to digital records was to reduce medical errors, but at the same time research has shown that EHRs actually introduce new kinds of errors.” – Molly Dawson in her article, 3 dangerous data entry habits to avoid.
If you work with healthcare data or healthcare software systems, you won’t be surprised that it seems like healthcare has taken two steps forward and one backward. As a healthcare software company, we here at Extract certainly understand how complex data and document workflows can become. It seems every clinic and every department have reasons for why their workflow is special. There is little doubt that if everyone had the same needs and were willing to accept a standard document process that many data issues would disappear. The fact is that patients come first and that is why there are differences between departments and clinics. We need to embrace the different requirements and we also still need to overcome the incoming flood of data and documents.
Data and document handling automation platforms, like Extract’s, help deliver the true benefit of an EMR. Software extracts important information and delivers it to the EMR very quickly. Along the way, functionality is applied to the data and documents that help improve the quality and quantity of discrete data in the legal patient record. If you are looking for agreement among physicians, just ask them if they like looking at images for important data (like lab results). No one likes to look through a list of poorly named files for a single data point.
The adoption of electronic medical records has increased the requirement to perform data entry. Everyone is doing data entry, including clerical and clinical staff. At the same time, healthcare is struggling to drive costs out of the healthcare delivery equation. That means people are looking to do more data entry faster. Corners get cut. Fewer quality checks are implemented. Copying and pasting happens too often and has long been known to save time and also increase errors. Similarly, the use of templates or standard defaults speed up data entry but just as with copy and paste, people tend to become careless and unconsciously begin treating patients like they are all the same.
Can software help solve a problem caused by EMR software? The answer is yes. For example, a common thread in repetitive data entry tasks is boredom or at least less vigilance. Software can automate many aspects of data entry processes and the difference is, the software never gets bored or tired.
With software, there are ways to ensure the data is complete by checking it with other known databases. For example, an incoming outside document must be matched to an existing patient. If data handling software knows who all the patients are, the incoming document can be properly matched. The software can also determine what kind of document has been received, and with that knowledge can make sure the data needed from that document is extracted before the document is released.
Data and document handling software can calculate error rates, can point out staff that needs remedial training, and can ensure the overall quality of data in the patient record is trending upward.
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About the Author: David Rasmussen
David Rasmussen is the President of Extract. With 30 years’ experience leading software companies, David is driven by the challenge to consistently find groundbreaking ways to solve customer problems. David finds it rewarding to hit the customer’s target and create a great team, build a solid infrastructure, and emerge with a strong value proposition.