Manage unstructured content to increase productivity, improve cash flows and enhance customer service
Let’s face it, unstructured business content plagues practically every healthcare organization. But why is unstructured information an issue and how can effectively managing it improve user productivity? The quick answer is that by its very nature, unstructured content annoys almost all of us. We encounter it, store it somewhere, forget about it, and then can’t find it when we are looking for it. Then we have to worry about whether it is lost or just misplaced. And recreating it or requesting it from the originator takes time. It simply impedes our ability to do our jobs effectively.
In this article, we’ll look at a simple six step workflow program to manage this content, where each step makes life easier for the people who rely on you to do your work right in order for them to do their job
- Move capture to the front-end of your workflow process. The key here is to understand the nature of the business content each work area processes. Talk to the people who work there. Then you can take steps to determine the best practice approaches to get it under control.
- Automate manual work processes. A unified ECM and RCM solution allows you to capture the diverse range of information and content within your organization – paper EOB’s and correspondence, faxed orders or requests for information, denied claims, insurance cards, patient IDs and more. By automating the capture of this documentation and combining the process of data collection with document indexing, the results can be astonishing. First, that business content required for your HIS application is often the same data required for keyword index values to store and retrieve that same document. Additionally, ECM eliminates the need for physical storage and management, thereby reducing staff’s frustrations about navigating through a mountain of paper to find what they need. Saving on storage, indexing and filing costs also demonstrates a true return on investment that is sure to please everyone in your organization.
- Validate the data you have captured. Capturing unstructured content is only the beginning. While many solutions stop at this point, if the data is not accurate, it has little to no real value. Today’s best practice solutions include client definable data validation routines which help scrub the data to ensure its accuracy before generating the desired output. If errors are found, users have the ability to correct them during an “edit phase,” replacing the original converted data by simply keying the correct information, selecting data from a drop down list, or auto-populating the data from a database lookup. This work process ensures that correct information is available for resolving future issues such as patient billing, denied claims, disputed amounts or other patient inquiries.
- Store your information somewhere safe. Now that you’ve captured and cleansed that unstructured content, you need somewhere to store it. An ideal RCM solution provides you with a single, secure ECM repository for electronic storage of this business content. This helps reduce complexity in your IT environment by eliminating disparate, disconnected content silos. Unstructured information also poses a security risk. An ECM solution securely stores this content, reducing the risk of a HIPAA violation. Additionally, RCM/ECM systems that provide audit trails make compliance with 3rd party audits, Joint Commissions, Sarbanes Oxley and other initiatives much simpler – making life easier for both users and constituents.
- Integrate data with disparate systems. For your content to be useful, the people who need to access it should be able to find it easily and quickly. By integrating with your organization’s core applications, an ECM solution provides instant access to content within those systems with a simple click of the mouse. For those in patient financial services, it means finding transactional billing data within the billing system instead of on an EOB or isolated EDI transaction. For those in finance and accounting, it means locating an invoice directly within the ERP system. Not only does this make them more productive, it also enhances the value of your existing applications because users have everything they need within your registration system, billing system, ERP and other applications.
- Report & reconcile. You’ve identified your business content, captured and validated it, safely stored it and integrated it with your core systems. With an integrated RCM/ECM solution, you can use that content to help your staff work more efficiently.
Unstructured content, regardless of its form or format, leads to frustration. Any time staff has difficulty finding what they need to work effectively, frustration is a natural consequence. RCM technology integrated with ECM helps you reverse that tendency, turning a source of annoyance into a point of efficiency. That, in turn, leads to happy users – users who understand the value of the systems and services your IT department delivers and supports.