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Whitepaper: Better Managing Patient Relationships and Information with eSignature


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Whitepaper: Better Managing Patient Relationships and Information with eSignature

  1. 1. Continued Share:WHITE PAPER Better Managing Patient Relationships and Information with eSignature Definitions U.S. ESIGN Act – In 2000, the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act established electronic records and signatures as legally binding, having the same legal effects as traditional paper documents and handwritten signatures. Electronic signature – The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) defines an “electronic signature” as an “electronic sound, symbol or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” In healthcare, there are dozens of necessary processes and just as many forms and other documentation required to support them. There are also complex workflows and systems to be updated, processes to be kicked off—all based on signatures from patients, doctors, supervisors, and vendors, among many others. The need for documentation is understandable given government regulations and compliance requirements. Today, technology can dramatically reduce the complexities and volume of paper, extensive document storage, and logistics associated with getting the right document to the right place at the right time. Electronic signature technology can help drive compliance while positioning healthcare organizations to better manage patient relationships and information to drive more efficient operations and reduce costs. Nevertheless, many healthcare companies are compelled to keep doing things the old way. Why? Concerns about the costs, legalities, complexities, and security of electronic signatures. As discussed in this whitepaper, electronic signatures are nothing to fear. In fact, many leading healthcare organizations are embracing electronic signatures, and discovering the benefits and ease associated with them. Electronic signature technology, which has been legally binding in the United States and Europe for more than 10 years, makes it possible to complete virtually any kind of healthcare document online without pen and paper. In addition, such technology can integrate with little to no customization with many healthcare systems and software to drive a much better patient experience, greater efficiency, lower costs, and improved compliance. In this whitepaper we will discuss the role electronic signature technology plays in healthcare documentation processing, the benefits of eSignatures, and several important criteria to consider when selecting an electronic signature solution. Reasons to Consider the Electronic Signature Model Electronic signatures are a legally binding way to complete most any type of documentation, making it fast and easy for individuals and organizations to complete, sign and store forms and other documents. The benefits of using electronic signatures are many: Lowered costs – Costs for paper, printing, faxing, and overnighting are reduced significantly. Increased productivity – The best eSignature solutions reduce work- hours associated with rekeying data by easily integrating with systems that automatically update customer-inputted information and store completed documents. Enhanced patient and doctor satisfaction – Through eSignatures, healthcare institutions can provide greater convenience and service with anywhere, anytime signing from any Internet-connected device. Faster document cycle times – The convenience of eSignature cuts the time to get documents signed from weeks down to minutes. What’s more, the leading solution will only return documents when they are complete, eliminating signing errors and missing information. Verification of signers’ identity – Third-party identity management and authentication can offer additional safety and security to further ensure the privacy and security of patient information. Increased compliance – Documents are returned in good order— complete and legally-binding—with a court-admissible audit trail.
  2. 2. WHITE PAPER Continued Nearly 72% of adults are frustrated with completing paper- based forms, documents or business agreements. Harris Interactive Electronic Signatures Streamline Processes Forms that require signatures typically kick off other important processes within an organization. Even something as simple as a new patient completing and signing their intake forms in a doctor’s waiting room indicates she is ready to see the physician. Today’s paper processes entail manually handling these steps—re-keying customer information and/or data, scanning, and communicating next steps— which can create delays and errors. Using a solution to electronically execute healthcare documentation, however, allows for the completed paperwork to be automatically filed in the proper system with data from form fields uploaded to other downstream systems without re-keying. A doctor can be notified that her patient is ready to see her the minute the forms are complete and signed. Using a Software-as-a-Service electronic signature solution, such as DocuSign, forms can be stored securely online in the cloud or copied to an electronic health records (EHR) system automatically, and accessible anytime, anywhere on any Internet-connected device, so there’s no need for paper storage and destruction services. In fact, eSignature solutions even allow you to set record delete dates so that old records are automatically and confidentially “shredded.” Although electronic signatures have been legal since 2000, they’ve become commonplace in the past couple of years. Many healthcare institutions use electronic signatures as a competitive differentiator, boosting patient convenience and satisfaction, and as a means towards achieving better operational efficiency and reduced costs—all of which are critical in today’s healthcare environment. The Time Is Now Several factors indicate that the healthcare industry is ready to make the shift to easy, fast, secure electronic signatures. Rising costs – According to a May 2011 report from PwC Health Research Institute, “Health reform is pressuring employers, providers, insurers, and drugmakers to be more cost conscious.” Technology readiness – Until recently internal patient records systems were slow to be updated, as there was a fear of insecurity for extremely sensitive patient data. Now that confidence is growing in electronic health records, the next step is to automate the data input and signatures to streamline the end-to-end process for maximum efficiency. Frustration with the status quo – A 2010 Harris Interactive survey found nearly 72 percent of adults are frustrated with completing paper- based forms, documents or business agreements. This is generally compounded when patients are confronting the hassles of paperwork when already feeling ill, or when it delays needed urgent care. The right electronic signature solutions—those with forms integration—eliminate these frustrations. Form fields provide the space and character counts for the required data so that patients can quickly and easily entered required information. eSignature delivers convenience by enabling consumers to sign and return without having to print, fax, mail, or overnight completed documents. And, form fields that automatically pull and update patient data (which has been keyed in via computer or mobile device directly, to remove the challenges of messy handwriting) eliminate the need to rekey data and thereby eliminate mistakes. Considerations in Electronic Signatures When it comes to selecting an electronic signature provider, there are a number of considerations: Ease of Use – The easier you can make the process for doctors, staff, and patients, the happier all will be. Find an electronic signature solution that is efficient and simple, that doesn’t require expensive programs or delayed software downloads. Remember, the easier it is, the greater acceptance by users and the faster it is to complete. Security – For healthcare documents, security is extremely important. Look for a provider that offers SAS 70 Type II tested data centers and solutions, as well as one which maintains a comprehensive array of technical measures to protect documents and patient information. A robust set of customer-controlled settings and deep user identification and authentication options can provide further privacy and security protection. Visibility – It is important to track each step as a document goes through the approval process. Instead of requiring a staff member to shepherd a document from approval to approval, find an electronic signature service that does it for you, one that enables multiple people to sign the same document in the correct order, as well as sending automatic reminders to expedite the process. Legality – Integrated signer authentication, a complete audit trail, and a tamper-proof virtual seal of the signed document are a necessity to ensure legality, as well as a secure and encrypted web interface. Mobility – With people increasingly on the go and managing their lives through mobile devices, the speed and accessibility are essential. Look for a solutions provider with a versatile and secure option that allows documents to be sent, signed, tracked, and stored in a mobile environment.
  3. 3. WHITE PAPER About DocuSign DocuSign® is the global standard for electronic signature® . DocuSign accelerates transactions to increase speed to results, reduce costs, and delight customers with the easiest, fastest, most secure global network for sending, signing, tracking, and storing documents in the cloud. For U.S. inquiries: toll free 866.219.4318 | For European inquiries: free phone +44 (0) 800 098 8113 | Copyright © 2003-2012 DocuSign, Inc. All rights reserved. DocuSign, the DocuSign logo, “Close it in the Cloud”, SecureFields, Stick-eTabs, PowerForms, “The fastest way to get a signature”, The No-Paper logo, Smart Envelopes, SmartNav, “DocuSign It!”, “The World Works Better with DocuSign” and ForceFields are trademarks or registered trademarks of DocuSign, Inc. in the United States and or other countries. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders. Follow Us: “Health reform is pressuring employers, providers, insurers, and drugmakers to be more cost conscious.” PwC Health Research Institute Branding – Every interaction patients have with your institution should support your brand identity. Look for a solution that allows your brand to be incorporated so patients, doctors and others will have a consistent, secure experience that reinforces your brand promise. The ease, convenience and cost-effectiveness of electronic health records are unmistakable. Yet these benefits can be amplified significantly by including electronic signatures as part of the technology-enabled operating model for healthcare institutions. Now that consumers and dozens of other industries have embraced electronic signatures as mainstream, the time is right for healthcare to take advantage of this secure and valuable technology. By implementing electronic signature technology such as DocuSign, organizations can achieve greater efficiencies in document workflows. DocuSign can drive greater productivity across a health organization and reduce cost and risk, while patients, doctors, staff and others enjoy an easier way to sign.