Streamlining operations for healthcare reporting
By Scott Mackey, Founder & Director of Product Management at Adlib, November 2011
By automating manual processes with content transformation, healthcare facilities are better able to apply resources towards their ROI.
Today, many healthcare organizations suffer from poor document transformation practices and spend unnecessary time manually handling physical documents to compile reports. However, there is a proven way to get control of this tedious process. The key is to make sure that the document conversion and publishing process is completed automatically, accurately and seamlessly. This enables healthcare facilities to compile a high volume of information from multiple sources and create production-ready documentation that can be effortlessly used in final reports.
Typically, these document compilation and publishing processes employ manual effort by people hired (and better suited) to more meaningful work. The proper application of technology – such as enterprise content transformation – can automate these processes, delivering multiple benefits including lower operating costs, accelerated processes and reduced risks. These are common marketing claims, so let’s look at a real-world experience.
A better way to manage documents
On a monthly basis, a New York City-based healthcare facility produces lengthy reports for its senior executives and board members to review cost-per-patient metrics and other business-related matters. Many documents are in different formats, ranging from Excel to Word to Web-based files, and it is not uncommon to have multiple authors submitting reports right up to the deadline.
With two weeks of manual labor required to print and prepare these reports into physical binders each month, this hospital realized that there must be a better way to manage the thousands of documents and arrange them into a single report. Compiling these lengthy monthly reports was resulting in high administrative costs and lost time that could be better focused on patients.
This healthcare facility successfully moved its labor-intensive document operations to an automated process, reducing two weeks of work into less than one day. In doing so, the hospital also reduced the cost and time required to rework physical document compilation due to last-minute editorial changes, a task easily accomplished with their electronic content transformation solution.
Content transformation for healthcare
Content transformation refers to the software and best practices associated with delivering the right content to the right people or systems at the right time, and in the right format. Standardizing disparate document formats into an accessible format (such as PDF), combing them into a properly organized collection and applying process-specific features (such as watermarks), page numbers or security restrictions are all elements of the content transformation process.
As part of a complete solution involving content management and workflow automation, content transformation technology allows healthcare facilities to automate these processes instead of forcing users to perform each function separately using manual steps or desktop tools. Content transformation can be delivered as a service by IT across multiple groups and lines of business, transparently linked to the workflows and applications they are already using. In addition, by delivering these capabilities centrally across the organization, IT gains centralized administration and control to reduce overall organizational expenditure while meeting the demands of its users.
Some of the key aspects to consider include:
Integration with business systems: Delivering capabilities transparently through the business applications and environments with which the users are familiar helps to ensure rapid adoption and maximum benefit.
Performance expectations: Board meetings and other critical business processes have strict timelines. Ensure that your solution enables IT to meet the performance, uptime and quality expectations of the users.
Capabilities required: Find the right balance between an all-in-one solution and building something from the ground up. Look for best-of-breed applications that can be combined to meet your current and future needs. Consider the input and output format requirements. Is there a need for capture/OCR of image content? Do your users need to merge, stamp and secure content?
Finding the right solution is not always easy, so look to your peers or companies with solid reputations for understanding the unique challenges of the healthcare market.
Return on investment
The main goal is to constantly improve the quality of the products and services delivered to patients. By automating manual processes with content transformation, healthcare facilities are better able to apply resources toward this goal, though it is hard to measure.
One way is to look at the costs incurred and saved. While there are costs associated with implementing any solution – including hardware (servers), software, integration services and training – the result of an effective strategy can be real-world ROI that can be measured in weeks or months, not years. Think of the time spent manually collating material, rendering it to PDF and figuring out how to apply page numbers or include a table of contents. In our example above, this effort spanned two weeks every month. When multiplied by salaries and the number of people involved, the hard dollar costs can be surprising. Reducing that effort to less than one day per month delivers real, measurable ROI.
Beyond measurable cost savings, there is a real benefit of making everyone involved a more satisfied customer. Those who now have an automated environment can focus on more meaningful work instead of wrestling with paper or desktop software tools. The end users – in the above example, the board – get a higher-quality document from which to work, even if they don’t know how efficiently it was created.
Another benefit not to be overlooked is reduced risk. If you can successfully automate a process (such as content transformation), you reduce the risk that it is being done erroneously or is simply not compliant with your organizational standards. In the case of certain critical content flows (such as regulatory submissions), the risks eliminated can be much more substantial and measurable.
This is just one area of healthcare where the processes involved in creating and sharing content can be optimized with an effective IT strategy. Leveraging your investments across other content flows just makes the ROI calculation that much more compelling.
Whether it is a monthly report for the board of directors or a more frequent departmental report, it’s all about getting the right content to the right people at the right time, and in the right format. Automating these operations using content transformation benefits everyone involved,
including the patient.