Informed Consent’s Paper Problem Makes Healthcare Headlines – Shedding Light on the Critical Solution
While advances in technology bring the power to improve interactions between patient and provider, informed consent forms often remain a lingering source of manual and paper intensive processes throughout healthcare organizations.
In fact, recent research from CynergisTek shows 76 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed, which use a common EHR platform, still print consent forms instead of using an electronic signature solution.
While consent stands for much more than a signature on a form, the effectiveness of the process in which the consent signature is obtained is extremely important. The industry is starting to take notice of the costly repercussions of sticking to the status quo.
Unfortunately, here we are in 2018 and informed consent documents remain on paper. Why is this such a big problem?
As Shahid Shah points out in his article: ‘Informed Consent: Let Go of the Status Quo’:
- JAMA reports that two-thirds of procedures have missing consent forms, causing 10% of procedures to be delayed, and costing hospitals over $500k per year.
- Joint Commission reports over 500 organizations annually experience compliance issues because of missing consent forms. There’s almost a 1 in 4 chance that your own organization has this compliance problem.
- A recent JAMA Surgery paper estimated that two thirds of malpractice cases cited lack of informed consent, which increases liability risk.
- Superfluous paperwork directly contributes to clinician burnout.
- Patients often don’t understand their procedures or aren’t properly educated about the service they’re about to use.
As the list above confirms, paper is causing big problems in the processes. Informed consent – one of the most vital forms of communication in healthcare settings, should not be overlooked by healthcare leaders.
Three recent articles from some of Health IT’s top influencers speak to the paper problem with informed consent and highlight the solution to one of healthcare’s biggest process issues: implementing an electronic informed consent solution.
Industry Experts Highlight the Solution to the Common & Costly Problem
Health IT Influencers Shahid Shah, Colin Hung, and John Lynn weigh in on the topic in the following articles and the value electronic informed consent brings to healthcare organizations:
Informed Consent: Let Go of the Status Quo (Shahid Shah, Hospital EMR & EHR)
Shahid Shah, award-winning Government 2.0, Health IT, Bio IT & digital Medical Device Inventor & CTO with over 28 years of technology strategy, architecture, engineering, entrepreneurship, speaking, and writing experience, uncovers the big problem with the healthcare industry’s informed consent status quo.
“Today, many healthcare institutions go without automation of consent documents – which I’m calling the status quo. Even though this document is essential, and its non-digital status quo creates many financial, clinician, and compliance burdens, it’s not high in the list of priorities for digitization or automation.” – Shahid Shah
Shahid recognizes the benefit of turning to an automated process with solutions, such as FormFast, which he describes as: “a universally applicable, easy to deploy, and easy to use software package with a fairly rapid ROI”.
“With eConsent software, clinicians aren’t interrupted in their workflows, patients are more satisfied, compliance becomes almost guaranteed, and procedures aren’t delayed because of lost paperwork.” – Shahid Shah
Going from Paper-Based Consents to eConsents in Healthcare (John Lynn, EMR and HIPAA)
John Lynn, Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network, showcased the need for an improved informed consent process in his interview with FormFast’s Director Clinical Solutions, Robin McKee. John points out a reason the paperless office still alludes us is paper-based consents.
In the interview, Robin offers a lot of great insights into consents in healthcare, the value an eConsent solution, and how FormFast is helping organizations successfully make the shift.
“Electronic consent forms are superior to paper in this regard. While paper consents get lost or have to be carried around in a paper chart until they are scanned into the EHR, eConsent forms are instantly archived into the EHR. This ensures the document is archived correctly every time. Plus, it is easy to access the form in pre-op, as well as confirm in the OR during timeout. We utilize a variety of methods, including HL7 and FHIR, to integrate with any EHR or document management system.” – Robin McKee, FormFast’s Director of Clinical Solutions.
Looking to Improve Patient Experience? Simple Options Can Yield Big Results. (Colin Hung, Hospital EMR and EHR)
Highlighting the overlooked, yet quick-hit improvement area, of the informed consent process in healthcare, Colin Hung, co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter, also highlighted this hot-topic issue.
He shares The National Center for Ethics in Health Care has a special guideline that prohibits gurney consent (when a patient is asked to sign consent forms ‘on the gurney’ or after they have been sedated in preparation for a procedure) although the situation is a reality in many organizations.
….”That handbook states that “Patients must not, as part of the routine practice of obtaining informed consent, be asked to sign consent forms ‘on the gurney’ or after they have been sedated in preparation for a procedure.” This clause was meant to ensure the consent does not occur “so late in the process that the patient feels pressed or forced to consent or is deprived of a meaningful choice because he or she is in a compromised position. Sadly, gurney consents are an all too common occurrence in hospitals that use paper-based consent forms.” – Colin Hung
Colin details the easy win opportunity for improving patient experience with an eConsent solution like FormFast.
“Improving patient experience is a top priority. Instead of grandiose new programs, hospitals and practices would see better results by focusing on simple options that have a big impact – like an eConsent solution. FormFast eConsent makes it easier for organizations to treat patients with respect and gets patients involved in their care.” – Colin Hung
The Time is Now: Turning to an Electronic Informed Consent Solution
As these articles convey, the healthcare industry is recognizing that even though the informed consent document is essential – and its non-digital status quo poses many financial, clinical, and compliance risks – the problem often remains yet to be addressed by proven automation solutions, such as FormFast.
For many health systems, improving the informed consent process has quickly become integral to a proactive approach to key strategic initiatives such as patient experience, cost savings, and risk management.
As Shahid, John, and Colin’s recent articles point out, FormFast’s eConsent solution addresses the industry’s growing need for a more streamlined, reliable, and consistent informed consent process and provides an alternative to the error-prone, paper-based process.
FormFast’s eConsent Workflow
FormFast provides robust form technology that presents clinicians with a simple, intuitive, and straight-forward process to capture consents.
By scanning the barcode on a patient’s wristband, the appropriate forms for that patient are launched for review and completion. The patient can read the form on a tablet device at the point-of-care, and conveniently sign the form electronically with their finger or stylus.
Staff can then quickly self-sign the form and date-time stamps are automatically applied. Upon the submission of the consent form, it is archived instantly into the EHR – preventing lost information and making documentation instantly visible to the care team.
FormFast cuts costs associated with paper, toner, printing, scanning and storage by digitizing consent processes and increasing productivity. On forms costs alone, hospitals can save thousands of dollars per year with FormFast’s mobile bedside consent.
In addition to a large financial savings, FormFast allows healthcare organizations to meet regulatory, ethical, and legal requirements while creating a more efficient and standardized consent experience for staff and patients.
See why today’s leading healthcare organizations are turning to FormFast to automate the critical process of informed consent.