Making the Rounds
In the health-care industry, the confusion that arises from an overflow of paperwork can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. As a result, the political debate involving the use of electronic health records has been alive and well for years. Though health-care’s use of e-forms and other new technologies may be hotly debated issues in politics, the forms industry doesn’t see the urgency being played out in their clients’ businesses.
Nevertheless, some aspects of the health-care industry have changed and are shifting toward electronic streamlining. If the medical community is slow to adjust to new technologies, how are electronic health records affecting the forms industry? To find out how printed forms are faring, BFL&S spoke with the following industry professionals:
• Susan Bennett, regional sales manager, KDM
Products, Carpentersville, Ill., www.gokdm.com.
• Dan Cahill, vice president of sales, Webb/Mason, Baltimore, www.webbmason.com.
• Jim Maggio, vice president, Maggio Data Forms Printing, Hauppauge, N.Y., www.maggio.com.
• Julie Moerman, vice president of sales, Trade Printers, Phoenix, www.tradeprinters.net.
BFL&S: What kind of impact are electronic medical records having on the forms industry? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using e-forms instead of traditional paper-based forms?
Maggio: Today, the admissions process has been greatly simplified. Rarely do you see the very complex multiple-part sets; rather, the patient fills out forms that are relatively simple. This information is used as input into the computer system to generate the necessary paperwork—including patient identification—and, of course, to set up the digital patient file which is referred to throughout the patient’s stay. I feel the major impact will be on medical files and filing systems, as most records will be retained digitally.
Cahill: Obviously, if you get into an environment where you de-emphasize charts, I think it’s going to make it potentially easier for staff to move throughout the hospital and to get their work done. What you find in many of these hospitals is from an infrastructure standpoint. [Getting] hospitals wired and connected in the proper way is a huge undertaking, and many hospitals have not gotten that part of their closet cleaned, as it were, to be ready to move forward with it. You also have to change the entire mentality of your staff and how they do things. ... Not that it can’t be done, but that it’s going to take a while to train your staff on where you’re going with that. ... One of our approaches with this is...looking at hospitals as each department being its own account. ... You have to be able to deal with each of these departments independently and know what they want and how they want it, because there’s never a consistency throughout the entire enterprise and certain areas of a hospital are quicker to move toward the technology of e-forms [than others].