ECM's Role In Achieving One Patient, One Record
By Meghan Demorse, author/professor
An ECM system that can provide deep integration will serve up rich data or research information to clinicians without them searching or even realizing they are accessing another software system.
The motivation to install an enterprise content management (ECM) system in a healthcare organization often starts with the simple inclination to rid a department of burdensome paper. While the benefits associated with pure paper reduction are important, the end result of a successful ECM implementation goes far beyond this, allowing healthcare organizations to accomplish larger, system-wide initiatives and complete their vision of attaining one patient, one record.
In the absence of ECM, unstructured, clinically relevant content remains disconnected from a healthcare organization’s EMR. Therefore, users working within that EMR are disconnected from important patient information. In order to provide a truly comprehensive, longitudinal patient record, relevant information should be made accessible without requiring the clinician to be aware of and then seek out the information that is missing from the EMR.
In conjunction with an EMR, ECM products can be smart enough to understand what information is pertinent and significant to a clinician as they treat patients. Through this understanding and advanced system integration, the clinician experience is greatly enhanced. Clinicians have real-time access to relevant information regardless of the data source and their workflows are streamlined because they are not required to manage and navigate multiple data repositories. They can make better decisions based on an all-inclusive, appropriately organized patient record instead of one they know is missing potentially critical supporting information.
When all pieces of a patient’s record are consolidated and made available electronically, efficiently sharing this information becomes more realistic. Using ECM technology, not only are organizations able to share EMR-based data but also unstructured information. This enables organizations to more thoroughly participate in health information exchanges (HIE’s) and also allows for maintenance of more complete personal health records (PHR’s). As healthcare organizations turn their focus and budgets toward meeting meaningful use requirements, joint EMR-ECM implementations will become increasingly important. Coupling ECM technology with an EMR helps an organization to realize and extend their investment in that EMR.
With its simplest implementation, ECM helps to alleviate the difficulties that paper-based processes impose on healthcare organizations. When approached as an enterprise-wide, mission critical system, ECM serves as a key component in delivering superior patient care and achieving the vision of one patient, one record.