SUCCESS STORY: Alberta Health Services

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Alberta Health Services Reduces Cost and Improves Efficiency with FormFast

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Good clinical documentation is key to ensuring patient safety and well-being. It’s vital for healthcare organizations to keep hospital forms and other documents organized and readily available for health care professionals, but maintaining all that paperwork can be costly and time-consuming.

 

Alberta Health Services (AHS), which has 99 acute care hospitals with 8,118 beds, was, like many organizations, experiencing issues with patient forms. AHS wanted to increase the efficiency of its record keeping and form-printing services. To accomplish this, AHS needed a form solution that complemented their existing electronic medical record (EMR) system.

 

AHS had three goals: reduce operating costs, decrease its environmental footprint and maintain patient safety. To achieve these outcomes, AHS implemented FormFast in its facilities. FormFast’s integrated on-demand forms solutions made all of these objectives possible for the organization.

 

Emma Bruinink, a support analyst with AHS, has worked in various positions within the organization for about 17 years.  After using FormFast, she shared some of the challenges the organization faced before implementing forms on-demand and described how FormFast was able to create a better process.

 

“FormFast is helping us with these three goals by allowing us to reduce the cost of paper, [automating] our charts and registrations forms, by only printing what needs to be printed,” said Bruinink.

 

Reducing Operational Costs

The forms automation software allowed AHS to eliminate pre-printed paper forms, replacing them with electronic forms that are available to staff online. The eForms are also automatically updated, displaying the most current versions of the documents and removing the obsolete ones, so the staff only use up-to-date forms.

 

With forms on-demand, costs can be reduced because hospitals will not require as much paper and ink supplies. This decrease in material demands also affects an organization’s environmental impact because it no longer needs to use as many resources to complete processes.

 

Our goal is to see reduced non-healthcare related operating costs so more valuable dollars can go to providing healthcare,” said Bruinink.  “And reducing the amount of paperwork is one way to accomplish this.”

 

Eliminating Inefficient Processes

In addition to reducing costs for organizations and issuing up-to-date forms to health professionals, FormFast saves medical employees a lot of time. In a health care facility, every minute is important when working with patients, and by using eForms, staff can work more efficiently.

 

Early in her tenure, Bruinink says nurses would have to pre-assemble chart information at the beginning of each work day.  This task could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete. This is a significant amount of time spent preparing for the day that could be directed toward caring for patients.

 

FormFast’s software helped decrease form preparation time and also made the process more organized. Bruinink discussed how it was common for chart bundles to be inconsistent from nurse to nurse. The staff would use different processes when putting documents together and sometimes all the forms they needed were not available. The nurses would also have to wait for updated forms to arrive at the facility, so charts would contain irregular paperwork.

 

Automating form packets with FormFast’s software makes acquiring up-to-date documents easy since the forms automatically update online. The electronic forms can also be organized by the platform and printed instantly. In addition, the system creates active patient lists so important items like wristbands, labels and consent forms are printed on-demand. With this solution, AHS nurses no longer have to worry about creating inconsistent chart bundles and their work becomes much more efficient.

 

“What we are saving now is time,” shared Bruinink. “Lots of time for our nursing staff by using FormFast.”

 

A Better Environmental Footprint

As a health organization, AHS not only wanted to improve patient care efficiency, but it also wanted to improve its environmental impact. FormFast’s software makes this possible by reducing material use throughout the facility. Before FormFast, AHS was constantly ordering pre-printed forms and half the time these documents became obsolete and were no longer needed. Not only was paper being wasted, but so were other resources, like ink and energy used on shipping.

 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 27 percent of municipal waste is made up of paper, more than any other type of material.  Form automation software can minimize an organization’s environmental footprint by decreasing paper waste and reducing the amount of resources needed to acquire proper documentation.

 

“Every form is easily accessible and available to all nursing staff.  That is how FormFast is helping us save time and helping us with the environment,” Bruinink explained.

 

Simplifying Forms Management

Another challenge for process owners at AHS was the reality that forms were constantly being revised with new procedures, protocols and other information. As a result, the old forms had to be replaced.  Before forms on-demand, this meant throwing away pre-printed paper forms and purchasing a new supply of paper documents.

 

The forms were continuously being ordered to refresh inventory, and the documents also needed to be sorted and stored when they arrived. Keeping track of these document updates was difficult and took even more time to change in the filing system, not to mention the accumulation of all these forms took up a lot of physical space. Filing cabinets were needed to organize the items and occasionally documents were misplaced, creating even more issues.

 

FormFast’s forms on-demand eliminated the challenges associated with both form management and storage. With ready-to-print eForms that automatically update, all staff members have to do to find the correct document is look it up in their system. Since the documents are digital, there is also no need to order documents ahead of time and create stacks of paper everywhere. Instead, when a nurse needs certain forms he or she simply has to print the number needed and it’s ready to go.

 

Ensuring Patient Safety

The challenge of managing pre-printed paper forms also increased the risk of patient safety issues. Bruinink shared the health systems concerns prior to implementing forms on-demand  

“What happens when a staff member does not reorder newly revised forms and the wrong form is used during patient care? It could be a huge patient safety issue depending on which outdated form is used,” said Bruinink

FormFast’s solution was able to address this need as well.

“Along with saving time for our nursing staff, FormFast also improves patient safety,” Bruinink explained. “A full inventory of all [current] forms are always available, even the rarely used ones.”

Conclusion

With the help of FormFast, health care professionals like Bruinink don’t have to worry about using an outdated form or spend superfluous effort into compiling documents. Medical workers can rest assured knowing they are using technology that will make their time on the hospital floor more efficient and, ultimately, safe.

“We have only scratched the tip of the capabilities of what FormFast can do for us and we hope to continue to build on what we already have in place,” Bruinink said.