Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Survey: Healthcare Industry Buried in Paperwork and the Problem is Predicted to Increase

More than 75% of respondents predict paperwork either to increase or not improve, with healthcare reform; despite implementation of electronic health records, 80% of healthcare organizations still rely on paper records

Anoto is a creator of digital pen technology, a technology that enables fast and reliable transmission of handwritten text and illustrations into digital format, not only from paper but also from surfaces such as whiteboards, glass and LCD screens. I wrote previously about how NextGen is using this technology to improve workflow in physician clinics. This technology was also demonstrated by Rover Technology Fusions (RTF) and Verizon at the recent HIMSS conference. They are focused on using the digital pen to make EHR adoption easier, so that interoperability is more likely. They showed how new integration RTF features combined with Verizon capabilities give support for Health Information Exchanges. This technology provides a way to connect patients with physicians and specialists they normally couldn’t access. These solutions will enable physicians to collaborate and consult with other health professionals—when and where they need to translating into better healthcare for everyone.

Anoto has announced the results of a survey focusing on the state of paperwork in the healthcare industry. Survey results confirm that despite increased adoption of EHRs, there is still a huge reliance on paper-based processes. For example, well over half of the respondents say that paper is still a primary source for tracking information within their organizations’ daily activities, citing reasons such as:
  •  Paper is too embedded in the culture; 
  •  Technology adoption is too expensive; and 
  •  Switching to an electronic system requires too much training and would disrupt care delivery. 

“The survey results are clear: healthcare remains a paper-driven industry and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future,” said Pietro Parravicini, senior vice president area manager Americas for Anoto. I spoke with Ginny Carpenter, Vice President of Marketing at Anoto, and she pointed out that many practices that have implemented EHR systems are still using quite a bit of paper based processes. She said, "There are still places where paper is the most logical form of data capture. Handwriting is the natural way for us to take down information, and here has been a cultural resistance to eliminating paper in healthcare. This is where solutions that allow a hybrid approach can help."

Also the survey results predict that the paperwork burden will increase with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The majority of respondents believed that health reform will either increase the paperwork burden or leave it unchanged, while on about 1 in 5 believe it will reduce the use of paper in healthcare.

Some of the other key findings from the survey include:

Paperwork is King: 
63% of respondents said they spend anywhere from 25% to more than 75% of their time at work drafting or processing paperwork.
A significant majority – almost 80% – are still using paper records, despite either having or currently implementing an EHR system.
78% of respondents believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will either increase the amount of paperwork they will have to deal with or it will, at best, stay the same.

EHR Technology Improves Patient Care: 
As healthcare continues to move towards EHR adoption, there is consensus that ultimately this technology will benefit the industry, patients and the quality of patient care in the long-term. Almost 90% of survey respondents with an active EHR system believe an EHR system improves patient care.

Interest in Digitizing Paper-Based Processes is High: 
Respondents were asked (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest), if they would be interested in using a solution that would allow them to digitize information instantly while still using the paper forms they have always used. Nearly 50% of respondents rated their interest as an 8 or higher.

Timeframe of Survey: January 2012 Number Surveyed: 3098 Number of Responses: 103
Types of Healthcare Facilities Surveyed: Hospitals, Ambulatory Care Facilities, Home Healthcare Organizations, and Long Term Care Facilities
Healthcare Professions Surveyed: Physicians, Nurses, Executive/Administrative, IT professionals and CIOs