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Why Your Healthcare Organization Needs Paperless Forms (Even If You Have an EHR System)

Heather Mueller
September 25, 2017
Min Read

You’ve heard it before: Electronic health records (EHRs) were going to bring healthcare into the digital age, but then things got complicated.

The very technology intended to usher in the future of healthcare has led to unintended consequences, ranging from the disproportionate amount of time going to PCs instead of patients to the steady incline of security breaches.

To top it all off is the issue of paper-based processes. Many healthcare organizations have been surprised to learn that having an EHR system—even a robust one that costs millions to implement—does not necessarily lead to paperless forms.

The Limitations of EHR Systems

For all the clicking that’s required within EHR systems, there’s a lot of patient data the technology isn’t capable of capturing. EHRs are effective at making a patient’s medical chart more readily available, but other critical data has to be collected by other means. The result? Many providers still collect important (and often highly sensitive) information through paper forms, such as these:

  • Consent forms
  • HIPAA release forms
  • New patient registration forms
  • Insurance verification forms
  • New patient questionnaires
  • Patient feedback form
  • Referral forms

If your facility operates like many of the other healthcare organizations we’ve helped, there’s a good chance the information collected in these forms is either scanned and saved or manually entered into a database before the paper is shredded. (You are shredding them, right? Because leaving paper forms lying around for any length of time is a big HIPAA data security no-no.)

At best, the process is tedious and time-consuming and leads to inaccuracies when handwriting is difficult to decipher. At worst, it makes a practice vulnerable to healthcare hacks. This is precisely why every organization needs paperless forms even when they already use an EHR system.

Learn More: 3 Common EHR Gaps and How to Fill Them

HIPAA Compliant Healthcare Forms

HIPAA compliant, web-based forms offer an easy way to automate the collection of important information—signatures, insurance details, medical histories, and more—that you’re currently capturing through paper forms. It’s one of the easiest and safest ways to streamline the flow of patient data and minimize the amount of clerical work that has to be handled manually. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: First, you create a mobile-friendly form. It could be anything from a registration form to an appointment request form on your website that syncs with your calendar.

Step 2: As soon as the patient fills out your form, the electronic protected health information (ePHI) is sent to a secure, cloud-based database. If you choose a form builder that offers HIPAA data security (and you should), the information will be encrypted and stored with password protection protocols and user access safeguards in place.

Step 3: Next, notification of the ePHI is automatically routed to the correct employees, who receive an alert that the data is ready for access.

Step 4: Meanwhile, special HIPAA webhooks are used to map online form fields to corresponding EHR settings so the data is instantly added to the appropriate electronic health record.

In the midst of many frustrations surrounding digital documentation, online forms offer a bright spot for the industry. HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based healthcare forms provide a hands-free, paperless method for capturing ePHI online and then having the data automatically (and securely) added to electronic medical records.

If you're ready to eliminate paper for good at your healthcare facility, we're here to help. Discover how Formstack can simplify healthcare workflow management without sacrificing security.


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Heather Mueller
Heather is a website copywriter and digital content strategist who loves helping brands generate leads through the power of the written word—especially when using Formstack. Connect with Heather on Twitter @heathermueller.
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