“Paperwork or documentation takes up as much as a third of a physician’s workday; and for many practicing physicians, these administrative tasks have become increasingly intolerable, a source of deteriorating professional morale. Having become physicians in order to work with patients, doctors instead find themselves facing piles of charts and encounter and billing forms, as well as the innumerable bureaucratic permutations of dozens of health insurance companies.” (NYT – Apr 08, 2010)
“Medical interns spend only 12% of their time examining and talking with patients, and more than 40% of their time on computer tasks, according to a time-motion study published online April 18 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.” (Medscape)
Physicians are often forced to spend more time working on documentation than with patients. Filling up charts and private insurance details seems to be a routine end-of-day ritual for most medical practitioners. If not done diligently, such a documentation practice can lead to substantial loss of revenue for hospitals.
Why do physicians need to spend more time with their patients?
Over the years, scientific studies have highlighted the importance of physician-patient relationship in improving recovery times. An empathetic physician who spends quality time with patients is much more effective in reducing disease symptoms than its equivalent in drugs. Researchers have named it the “care-effect”. Care-effect brings down unnecessary medical costs owing to patients having to continue the treatment process. Frequent visits to hospitals are eliminated and this leads to more positive patient outcomes.
The patient documentation and billing problem
In many countries, physicians doing daily rounds at the hospital are required to note down individual details of patients on paper. This is a mandatory step that enables insurance submissions and other billing forms of the patient. This step is sometimes skipped, as the physicians fall short of time needed to attend to the patient and the paperwork, which takes away their focus. This causes revenue loss in millions of dollars for the hospitals owing to missing patient details.
Mobility solutions for patient documentation and billing
Multi-platform billing applications permit physicians to view or update consultation information in real-time using smartphones. Such intuitive applications make it easy to fill in patient information, thereby increasing physician efficiency and quality at point-of-care. Hospital revenues often show a resultant rise of over 20% a month.
There are savings per missed record, something that adds up to millions of dollars annually for hospitals. Another highlight is the speeding up of insurance submissions and missed opportunity reports. Moreover, patient experience receives an immense boost, as physicians get to spend more time with their patients.
The digital healthcare advantage of reducing paperwork
New systems are designed to communicate with hospital servers, read information such as patient history, billing, and insurance and convey such data to caregivers at the time of consultation. Patient information is available at the touch of a button, and current treatment plans are immediately updated to existing details.
Wrapping it up
Patient experience is the most popular healthcare buzzword these days. By reducing irrelevant paperwork, technology helps physicians focus on quality of care, something that has a significantly positive effect on treatment outcomes.