The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving. Gone are the days when doctors and nurses relied on paper charts to record a patient’s medical information. Nowadays, it’s all about digital processes and tools, with electronic signatures and online forms becoming the norm.
The same goes for patient forms. While keeping them in paper format might not require using the internet, using printed forms is more demanding in terms of time, space, and effort.
In this post, find out why going digital is more beneficial for your medical practice. How can digital forms help you safeguard your patients’ privacy and expedite your workflow?
Let’s take a closer look.
The Hidden Cost of Paper-Based Processes
As a healthcare provider, you must ensure that your patient always feels safe and comfortable. This does not only apply to medical procedures but also to the way you handle your patient’s health information. Thus, continuing to rely on paper-based processes for medical charting may do more harm than good.
First off, using paper-based patient forms means you have to deal with sloppy and illegible handwriting. It could be tough to figure out what your colleagues or clients wrote down, especially if they were in a hurry.
Also, if you need to send a printed form to other departments or another hospital, you’d have to either use a courier or deliver it yourself. However, this takes more time. In case you send the form by mail, there’s a chance that the form gets delivered late, which may delay treatment.
Why You Should Digitize Your Paper-Based Forms
Digitizing your paper-based patient forms ensures data accuracy and speed. This means your patients no longer have to write their details on paper. They simply need to submit the forms online using their phone, tablet, or computer. This helps minimize errors since you can create forms with custom fields and dropdown options.
For example, you can avoid medication errors by prepopulating prescription forms with the correct drug name, dosage, and label. Digital forms also make it easy to update a patient’s information such as a new address or contact number.
As for securing your patient’s sensitive data, you have way better options than placing them in a fireproof cabinet or locked room. Digitizing your forms means you can encrypt files to protect them from unauthorized access. Even if there are unfortunate incidents like data leaks, you can still avoid paying costly regulatory fines.
Now’s the time to implement a contactless signing process that strictly adheres to your state or country’s electronic signature policy for medical records. A great example of this would be online prescriptions. You must ensure that the electronic signatures used in these prescriptions are authentic and legally enforceable.
Electronic Signature for Healthcare: What You Should Know
Digitized or not, you are bound to safeguard all records that contain protected health information (PHI). This includes your patient forms. Otherwise, you could be penalized under the standards of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
The law also applies to your business associates and staff. For example, if you’re working with a third-party medical transcription agency, they also need to follow the standards set by HIPAA. They must also sign a BAA (business associate agreement) to certify their adherence to the rules.
With electronic signatures, you can prevent forgery and tampering. You will also notice if someone other than your patient or staff has attempted to view, share, or edit your online forms.
Does HIPAA allow electronic signatures?
The focus of HIPAA is to ensure the secure handling of records with PHI. So if you are using electronic signatures to complete your intake forms, you need to prove that they are legally valid and enforceable.
To find out whether an esignature is legally binding, look for an opt-in box in the form that explicitly states your signatory’s consent. The digital form itself should also be safe from unauthorized access or alterations.
5 Benefits of Using Esignatures on Patient Forms
Here are some of the advantages of using esignatures on patient forms:
Your patients and their caretakers can complete the forms from anywhere, using any device. They can also do it before their next doctor’s appointment so there’s no need to spend precious time filling out forms by hand. Your patients can get the medical attention they need while you get to fulfill your duties without getting distracted by paperwork.
2. Contactless signing
Patients can sign their intake forms digitally. Doing so will limit their physical contact with contaminated surfaces, thereby minimizing the risks of acquiring contagious diseases. It will also help smoothen your documentation processes while preventing the spread of infection due to overcrowded waiting rooms.
3. Streamlined processes
You can cut out redundant tasks using automation. Instead of printing a form page by page, simply generate a public link that you can share via email or chat. You can also avoid errors since there’s an option to prefill the forms with previously submitted information.
4. Better patient engagement
No one likes wasting time on forms, much less writing them down with a pen. Taking the hassle out of signing forms means that patients are more likely to come back for a follow-up consultation. Digital forms are also easier to fill out for patients who have certain physical limitations.
5. Security and compliance
You can maintain data integrity since each digitally signed document has a unique identifier. This prevents anyone from making changes without seeking approval or permission. It also ensures that your practice complies fully with HIPAA and other data privacy laws.
The Best Way to Digitize Your Healthcare Records
Now that you know the benefits of digitizing your medical forms, it’s time to think of an efficient way to get it done. The good thing is you don’t have to look any further.
With Fill, you can quickly generate a digital version of your paper forms. With just one snap, our mobile app’s built-in scanner can instantly convert any printed form or document.
You can also get documents signed by multiple recipients with Fill’s signature request feature. That’s because our app intelligently highlights the parts where your patients should sign. Plus, you can set automated reminders to ensure that signatories submit forms when you need them.
With Fill, you can:
- Effortlessly convert paper forms into digital formats
- Use electronic signature consent form templates instead of creating them from scratch
- Ask patients to fill out forms and other intake documents at home.
So why stick with the old ways when you can digitize and sign your patient forms securely?
Start with a free account today to get a firsthand experience of how our app works.