Ron Nielson

Accountable Care – How information mobility can help achieve meaningful results

February 12, 2016
By Ron Nielson

The transition from document-based information to electronic health records has been steadily underway for some time. As health care organizations continue to implement such technologies to meet government regulations and improve interoperability across internal departments and external organizations, they are finding themselves challenged with providing the same high level of care and remaining attentive to patients’ overall health needs. As providers come closer to achieving full interoperability by leveraging practices that enable the ability to capture, transform and manage information — also known as information mobility — they will see significant benefits in an improved patient experience, along with meaningful use of electronic records and accountable care gains.

Health care organizations are achieving information mobility today by taking advantage of the latest technology advancements. Immediate access to patient data will help to ensure consistency in treatment, reduce duplication in services and medical errors, and provide more efficient care. According to a Harris Poll survey commissioned by Ricoh, hospitals that use tablets or other mobile devices to collect information from patients are seen as more efficient than those that don’t (74 percent). With greater access to the most up-to-date medical records, health care providers can better diagnose and treat their patients, helping them to achieve meaningful use and accountable care goals.

Few things frustrate patients more than having to complete the same paperwork and answer the same questions multiple times. Unfortunately, many health care providers still do not have the infrastructure in place to communicate records smoothly, resulting in repetition for the patient. According to the same Harris Poll, 77 percent of Americans perceive that hospitals are drowning in paperwork, which cuts into time health care workers can spend with patients.

Hospitals with information mobility practices in place can minimize paperwork requirements for patients and providers, and enable doctors and staff to do what they do best. If a doctor receives a patient’s complete medical history at the outset of an appointment, he can spend less time during the visit asking questions and more time focusing on improving the patient’s condition. A complete electronic health record and the interoperability to communicate this record across internal departments enables the doctor to use the patient’s data in meaningful ways to get to the root of the patient’s condition quickly and diagnose and treat accordingly.

A hospital with high interoperability between departments can have a direct impact on making the patient visit a faster, smoother process and improving efficiencies in the process. When the same interoperability is demonstrated across hospitals, partner providers and insurance companies, the resulting benefits will extend beyond the hospital to be reflected at every touch point across the health care industry.

According to a recent IDC Health Insights study commissioned by Ricoh, nearly 85 percent of hospitals have many departments with unmet needs for optimizing document workflows. Enhancements to these workflows and data management processes can help hospitals and health care networks achieve the interoperability they need to accelerate patient visits and improve patient satisfaction. More efficiencies ultimately translate to accountable care gains as patient visits and readmissions are reduced, and overall quality of care improves.

Information mobility enhancements not only change the medium where patient data is recorded, but also improve the ability to capture and store data so that only authorized individuals can access it. With health care data breaches on the rise, patients are growing more concerned about the privacy and security of their personal health information.

Health care providers and insurance networks must do everything in their power to keep patient records private and secure to earn and keep the trust of the patients whose personal data they protect. Electronic records that are only accessible to health care providers via a secure portal give patients the reassurance that their personal data cannot be viewed or picked up by a stranger walking past a printer. The higher the document security, the lower the risk of patient records going missing and the need to replace them with additional paperwork. Hospitals with data management processes that include strong security measures will offer patients the best overall protection of not only their health, but also their personal information.

As the digitization of the health care industry continues, providers will see information mobility benefits in efficient workflows, strong data management processes, consistent care practices for patients and more time allocated to seeing patients. Improved access to holistic patient health information will enable doctors to diagnose and treat patients with their overall health in mind.

Ron Nielson is the vice president, Healthcare at Ricoh Americas Corporation. He is responsible for Ricoh's strategic direction and driving growth for the Ricoh Healthcare vertical.