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Document Management

Taking an enterprise view of content management

Why deploying an enterprise-wide content management strategy throughout the healthcare organization yields value greater than the sum of its parts.

By Susan deCathelineau T

he need to select, deploy and maintain systems that better manage patient information has domi- nated the healthcare CIO’s strategic plans for years now. As you would expect, most CIOs point to meaningful use as the driver for starting these projects in the fi rst place. But as CIOs endeavor on this path to improved patient information management, they fi nd that if they take a strategic approach to content management as part of these projects, the results could have implications – consolidating redundant imaging systems, centralized and shared content and more automated processes – that extend beyond a de- partment to the whole healthcare enterprise. Why is a strategic, enterprise approach to content manage- ment so relevant to healthcare CIOs today? In addition to meaningful use, CIOs are experiencing these IT and industry realities:

• Departmental document imaging systems have gone legacy: We’ve all seen this play out before – one depart- ment, say accounts payable, needs to image and store paper documents, so they get the budget to buy a rudi- mentary document imaging system. Other departments catch wind, and when they fi nd that the system can’t be used beyond accounts payable, they too buy their own systems. Therefore, that content ends up stuck in departmental systems disconnected from the rest of the healthcare enterprise – and the CIO’s priorities. The result is document imaging systems that impede collaboration, tend to not be maintained by IT and can’t grow with the organization. • Healthcare providers (usually) aren’t satisfi ed anymore with the scanning and archiving technology that comes with the EMR: Most EMR systems come with a scan- ning and archiving component. And most providers fi nd that it just isn’t meeting their needs. Why? The EMR is capable of managing content only within the EMR, so patient-related documents and other content would be limited to those areas of the organization with access

20 March 2012

to the EMR. In addition to limiting access to content, other departments, such as patient fi nancial services, have complex processes and content that they need to manage. The EMR simply isn’t designed to provide the requisite advanced workfl ow capabilities. • Consolidation within the healthcare market: Health- care providers have been hot on the acquisition trail with no end in sight. From an IT perspective, the result is innumerable systems that overlap and don’t work well together – not ideal for any organization looking to cre- ate a cohesive health system, especially if it intends to continue to acquire. As a result, providers not only need a content management system with enterprise scale, but they also need one that is fl exible to grow and change with the organization, as well as integrate successfully with other systems, such as EMRs and ERPs. In addressing these challenges, many healthcare organiza- tions have turned to enterprise content management (ECM) technology. True ECM transcends simple document imag- ing. It offers the fl exibility to capture and manage a wide variety of content typically outside the domain of the EMR system – from paper to electronic, faxes to EKGs. ECM of- fers a secure repository for content storage and automated workfl ow to direct content to appropriate staff in accordance with organizational processes. Functionality for records management helps ensure compliance with organizational and governmental retention policies. Support for electronic signatures and offsite access enables physicians to work from any location. And, when done right, ECM integrates content with your EMR, delivering that content within the environ- ment clinicians already know and use. Again, as meaningful use is usually the primary driver of these projects, one of the biggest value propositions that CIOs see with ECM is a major enhancement to their EMR investment.

But while deploying ECM on the clinical side presents clear value, using ECM in fi nancial and administrative areas of the organization maximizes this value, helping reduce costs


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