This morning, Healthcare IT News reported that EMR system sales were up  by 14 percent in 2011. With increased federal and state funding for such systems, the increase will likely be matched or exceeded this year. But while hospitals can potentially improve patient care and safety, speed care delivery and minimize errors with an EMR system, these benefits can only achieved if facilities can get forms, clinical output and other patient-related data and documentation into EMRs.

To help manage such documentation, a growing number of facilities are investing in enterprise content management (ECM) applications. When dealing with pre-printed paper forms (in patient registration/admissions and on clinical floors) the only way to get forms data into the ECM system is to apply barcoded labels and then manually index each page – a time-consuming and error-prone task (not to mention the cost of the forms).

In contrast, an electronic forms management system, such as Access Intelligent Forms Suite, sgenerates barcoded forms on demand. Upon scanning, the ECM systems uses these barcodes to associate the forms with the correct patient’s EMR – no indexing required. To take it a step further, the forms can be authorized with a secure electronic signature and then sent directly into the EMR via the ECM, without a single sheet of paper printed.

A true Enterprise Forms Management suite also likely offers a clinical data bridge, such as Access Universal Document Portal, which captures output from clinical devices (such as ECG traces and fetal monitoring strips) and systems (perinatal documentation and surgical photos, for example) and interfaces it into an EMR. Again, no paper or indexing is needed.

As hospitals move through the transition from paper to hybrid to fully electronic patient records, Enterprise Forms Management technology is vital to speeding the process, to helping clinicians get the information they need and, ultimately, to fulfilling the patient care and safety potential of EMR systems.

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