Antiquated paperwork processes in hospitals: the problems and solutions with health information technology systems
Yoon, Andrew Minjae
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BACKGROUND. The United States healthcare system is one of the most expensive in the world, equaling approximately one trillion dollars. However, the quality of healthcare is low, as indicated by mortality rates, prevalence of diseases, rates of readmission to hospitals, dissatisfaction rates, and much more. One of the inefficiencies in the healthcare system that is causing errors and a decline in patient care to occur is the current paperwork system. Physicians and nurses spend much more time taking care of patient paperwork rather than giving direct treatment to patients themselves, and it's been shown that patient dissatisfaction levels rise and errors occur more frequently as a result of current physician/nurse workload. In order to change from paperwork to electronic files, hospitals must invest the time and money to look for alternative mechanisms that would decrease turn-around time of paperwork completion by leveraging digital solutions. A study was carried out to observe log back of paperwork by counting the amount of papers for each physician before and after an electronic email message intervention. RESULTS. The results were as expected: a simple email message did not drastically affect the amount of paperwork back log by residents, and numbers stayed consistent throughout. More than 50% of patient paperwork for residents in year 1 and 3 was more than 28 days old, which signifies the lack of paperwork availability and accessibility to the residents while off-site. CONCLUSION. Addressing the problem of paperwork burden to residents requires alternative solutions that include changing the entire paperwork system to a paperless, electronic system. Other solutions that require less effort, time and cost are possible, such as an email reminder as was done in this study, but will most likely not be as effective as switching to a paperless system that allows for physician-patient communication on a more consistent basis even though they may be off site. These changes would significantly improve quality of patient care as well as decrease administrative costs and waste.