Medical Document Management Software: All You Need to Know
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IgorSoftware Solution Architect
How do we act when we have a headache because of some minor issues? Right, we take a painkiller or other efficient pill. But what if we think more globally, in terms of an enterprise-level, when suddenly the necessary documentation is missing, papers are piling up drastically, and the whole workflow is a complete mess? Is there any solution that cures the situation as effectively as a painkiller?
Businesses with progressive vision opt for a software savior called document management system, the technology that simplifies main troublesome processes caused by paper documentation. Thus, continue reading this article, and you will figure out why enterprises and medical institutions, in particular, require a properly setup healthcare DMS software, how the whole solution functions, and in which way to develop one that will meet your requirements most efficiently.
What is a document management software?
Technologies that may streamline the whole workflow of the company are rapidly grabbing the attention of numerous business owners. One of such highly-efficient solutions is a document management system. But what exactly is it, and what are its core features?
The document management system is a rather multi-functional tool that can be perceived from various perspectives:
Tool for document digitizing & capturing.
DMS speeds up the working processes of the company by easily converting documents into their digital analogs via scanning (bulk, Optical Character Recognition, microfiche and microfilm scanning, etc.). When it’s completed, the documents can be converted into PDF, JPG, and other standard formats that make documentation tracking seamless.
Tool for document storing.
DMS can free up space that you use for storing voluminous piles of paper documents by providing you with a database that can save all digitized files online. Moreover, it allows storing scattered all over different services (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, email attachments, etc.) documents of your employees in a centralized place.
Tool for document distribution.
The distribution process of documents via different channels is rather inefficient, out-of-date, and error-prone. Any highly-functional DMS can automate and simplify this process for you so that you may easily keep track of invoices, dunning letters, and other crucial papers sent within and outside the company.
Tool for document tracking.
Every DMS allows you to track the exact location of the required document easily by indexing documents. This DMS feature also includes tracking of version, and changes within the document.
Tool for workflow management.
Highly-advanced DM systems enable flexible management of your business workflows. It means that you may save time and resources on numerous ineffective steps to execute a particular task. DMS allows you and your employees to collaborate on a certain project, make adjustments, set notifications, etc., quite easily and without loss of time.
As you may see, DMS is an integral software for those businesses where efficient work with documentation is the highest priority. However, what are the indicators that signify the moment that it’s about time to integrate such technology?
Your business is growing by leaps and bounds.
If your business is rapidly transforming from a small startup into a mid-sized enterprise with more than 300+ employees, this is the first sign you’ll require a DMS soon. As the paper documentation flow is going to increase, so will the odds of human errors, paper loss, insufficient document management. The integration of DMS software is a great preventive measure before such incidents may potentially happen.
Your current document management strategy is ineffective.
If the productivity of your business is dragging because of the ineffectively working document management strategy, then it’s time to integrate a properly chosen DMS. It can automate daily paperwork processing routines, hence, decrease the time for process completion. Moreover, this technology allows employees to work with the same document simultaneously, without waiting for other departments to make amendments.
Your company needs to reduce costs on document management.
According to the survey, U.S. companies spend almost $8 billion every year to manage paper documentation, and only 18% of all businesses consider themselves as paperless. If your expenditures on paper, file cabinets, shipping of paper documents, etc., are higher than you want them to be, DMS integration will be a perfect solution in such cases. Moreover, it allows reducing costs in case you are renting physical paper storage.
Your employees spend too much time on document retrieval.
DMS may also be rather useful in case your employees waste lots of time retrieving necessary documents. This may happen due to various reasons: physical papers are misplaced, documents are lost, etc. Such risks can be diminished since such software labels files for further speeded up the search.
Your company faces regulatory compliance challenges.
Properly designed document management strategy and software that enables its implementation will help you follow regulatory compliance without putting your business at stake.
Having examined the essence of DMS in general and the cases when it should be integrated, let’s take a closer look at its internal structure.
The capabilities of any full-fledged DMS, such as document storage, capture, indexing, retrieval, workflow configuration, security, etc., depend on its architecture. Its components may vary; however, they don’t differ drastically. Thus, let’s take a look at the following core ones:
Data storage, also called a central repository, with database and file server;
Interface for users interaction with software;
REST APIs to access centralized documents repository from different places and other clients.
The functional components above represent the standard architecture of the majority of document management systems and aren’t limited to them.
In the picture below, you may see the example of a classical DMS architecture:
The DMS internal structure and the functions it performs shows us that the integration of such software is not only desirable but is a must in many spheres. Banking, human resource management, legal field are just a few examples where such technology is highly applicable. Healthcare is probably the one that squeezes out others since it requires the highest level of security for its documentation. So let’s examine the role that healthcare DMS software can play in the medical industry.
Importance of a document management system in the healthcare industry
Representatives of the medical sphere face a great amount of paperwork: numerous medical history records, living wills, insurance cards, test results. Therefore, the fast document retrieval in case of emergency or enabling high-level security of the documents is the primary asset for any medical institution. Let’s take a closer look at those reasons that prove the importance of a document management system for the healthcare industry:
The safety of your patients’ documents, health records, internal documentation related to your organization, in general, may be vulnerable to all kinds of risks if the document management strategy is ineffective or absent at all. Natural disasters, human error, technical issues (security breaches, data leakage, etc.) can significantly damage your papers. If such incidents occur, you can easily lose the trust of your patients, hence, ruin your reputation and go out of business as a result. Due to this reason, the usage of medical document management software is highly important to eliminate such threats.
The management of the workflows.
The less steps your personnel do to complete particular tasks related to all work processes and activities, the more seamless and efficient the workflow is. The importance of DMS technology in medical organizations is explained by an outstanding capability to manage the workflows. It automates the whole process, allows different people to work on the document simultaneously, reduces the time for task completion, and directly influences the whole productivity of the organization.
One of the most crucial reasons why healthcare organizations may require a document management software for medical records is due to the necessity to adhere to regulatory compliance rules related to your field (HIPAA, HITECH, NHS, etc.). Revocation of licenses, fines, loss of customer trust, sometimes even such severe sanctions as criminal consequences. The medical document management system ensures your compliance by providing a secure repository for data storage, docs permissions, version control, etc.
We have examined the most crucial reasons that explain why the usage of the electronic document management system in healthcare is highly important. Now it’s time to see what are the actual benefits that such software can offer.
Top 5 benefits of a medical document management system
At this point, you have probably figured out what those gaps are in your healthcare organization management system but require more proof of how exactly healthcare document management software may benefit you. For this reason, the list of killer advantages is here for you:
Fast access to the documents, simplified forms, and papers filling, advanced full-text search, etc., are those factors that boost the productivity of your enterprise with a highly-functional medical electronic document management system. A properly chosen and adapted to your business needs document management system can boost the efficiency of all the internal processes and enhance the productivity of your personnel accordingly.
Accelerated access to documents and fast retrieval.
Since a medical document management system offers its users the ability to label and index papers, it indicates the exact route where the document may be found. Moreover, since the documentation is located in centralized storage, their retrieval becomes an efficient “one-click” procedure.
DMS type of software can be easily adapted to your security strategy via:
RBAC (role-based access control) — allows administrators to configure the access to different files and build a structured hierarchy of permissions and restrictions to particular files;
backups — DMS provides you with an ability to prevent data loss by performing automatic backups and keeping them in special storage folders separate from your organization’s database;
DR (disaster recovery) — a properly chosen DMS allows to configure DR plan according to your needs, obtain access to the documents and health records after the disaster, prevent data loss, and minimize recovery time;
data encryption — this DMS feature is a must for your security plan since it makes the information unreadable to those who don’t have necessary credentials;
audit trails — healthcare document management software enables you to track the activity of your employees related to the documents. Audit trails show your user’s ID, the exact time when the document was accessed, and the set of actions performed with the document. Such a DMS feature is rather valuable for the healthcare industry since it allows you to keep an eye on all changes across the system.
The features above are not limited to the ones mentioned. They depend on what DMS software you will choose to adapt to your business needs.
Even though you buy a DMS solution with OOTB (out-of-the-box) functionality, you still may add any required features and customize the platform according to your needs. It allows you to manage all your documents seamlessly and in less time than paper documents would require.
Reinforced consumer trust.
If your healthcare organization works seamlessly, patients’ valuable papers are not constantly lost, the documents are retrieved at a rapid pace, and the customer churn will definitely bypass your institution.
The best document management software for healthcare in 2020
Since numerous spheres so eagerly accepted DM systems, the newcomers have started entering the market rapidly while deep-rooted ones have expanded their functionality according to the market trends. As a result of such a DMS “boom,” healthcare organizations obtained one more pain while choosing best-suited medical document management software.
Based on our expertise in the implementation of a document management system for the healthcare industry, we can guide you to the right choice:
Measure the size of your healthcare organization, whether it is a small business or mid-sized enterprise. Such a parameter will significantly affect the choice of DMS.
Prepare thoroughly detailed business requirements that will help you form the vision of what problems the medical electronic document management system will solve.
Figure out the required feature set that you want your DMS to have that will meet your business needs perfectly.
With all that in mind, proceed to the list of the best 7 medical DM systems that are highly popular on the market. Their description will help you understand how to choose a proper one and which type may be best for you.
OCR (optical character recognition)
Compliance to HIPAA and other healthcare standards
any size of the medical enterprise (from 100 named users up to 1000)
advanced and easily configured
great number of collaboration tools
advanced security controls
huge number of extensions
simplified creation of customer specific UI
greatly designed extension architecture
small healthcare businesses, mid-size businesses, enterprises
customizable only in midsize and enterprise package
advanced reports and dashboards
creation of custom templates
small healthcare businesses and medium sized ones
advanced OCR extensions
standard tools for workflows customization
advanced search filters
medium to large-sized healthcare organizations
standard tools for workflows customization
allows users to customize permission setting
Microsoft Office application integration
scalable for all business and enterprise sizes
standard tools for workflows customization
automatic workflow notifications for staff tasks
Having examined our top of medical electronic document management systems, let’s dive into the current market landscape and figure out what trends it has prepared for us.
Medical document management systems market trends
According to the statistical overview, the DMS market was estimated at $3.88 billion in 2019 and will reach $7.65 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12% over the outlook period 2020 — 2025. The statistics show that the integration of DMS software into enterprises is growing rapidly. This happens because numerous organizations are transforming their out-of-date strategies and opting for innovative software. Therefore, the market became segmented by three core parameters: mode of deployment (on-premises and cloud), end-user (entertainment, government, healthcare, insurance, legal, etc.), and geography.
Besides, the sector of DM systems has also evoked the rise of trends that dictate how this software should be developed to meet perfectly the requirements of the end-users. Thus, follow the list below to see what are the top 5 tendencies in the healthcare document management system industry.
Make security great again.
The digitization of paper documentation eliminated the number of problems (paper loss, human error, etc.); however, it gave rise to different security risks, such as hacking, security breaches, and many others. Such threats created a tendency that encourages those who integrate such technology to choose wisely the one with top-of-the-line security features and those who develop electronic document management systems in healthcare to reinforce their security aspects via:
full audit trail on all types of the documentation within the enterprise;
role-based access control;
compliance with the required healthcare regulations;
files archiving, etc.
Due to this recent trend, numerous medical companies started paying attention to cybersecurity and personnel training for proper use of document management software.
Let’s not forget about mobile access.
Modern medical professionals can be in a constant rush; hence they require constant access to the organization’s documentation. This aspect created the necessity to make DM systems available on mobile devices. User-friendly interface and robust design have become of high priority during the development of DM systems to make this software more profitable.
The performance even of the most highly-functional DM systems may seem not sufficient to keep up with the growing needs of the healthcare organizations. To solve this problem, the increasing number of DM systems have been modified with the help of AI (artificial intelligence).
Via AI document management systems obtained an OCR feature that enabled this software to read, process, and automatically classify documentation without human intervention. Moreover, an AI-powered electronic document management system in healthcare may provide faster data extraction and structuring. For instance, Google’s Document AI transforms unstructured data into structured documentation, automatically saving you and your personnel both money, time, and effort.
It’s time to tune your collaborative work.
Successful collaboration in a medical organization is of high importance. To provide healthcare enterprises with seamless and productive functioning, software companies have started upgrading their DM systems’ functionality. For example, Alfresco offers its full-fledged ECM with a great set of collaborative tools (smart folders, version tracking, discussion threads, etc.) that can significantly accelerate the internal processes of the whole medical organization.
The smarter automation you have, the easier your life is.
Similar to AI, RPA (robotic process automation) greatly speeds up and simplifies workflow related processes and document management in general. The most prominent thing about RPA is that it can track and replicate human work with documents decreasing the time spent by personnel on various monotonous activities.
Our experience in healthcare document management system development and implementation
The real-life example can be the only way to understand the actual advantage of such software integration to the healthcare organization. Hence, continue reading this section, and you will learn more about the Aimprosoft approach to DMS development.
The customer turned to our services with a mere idea to create a clinical trial DMS that would streamline all processes related to document capture, editing, tracking, sharing, and storing. Besides, the intention was to optimize workflow management among users and reduce error probabilities. Based on our previous expertise in healthcare DMS software implementation with Alfresco, we understood that the platform was the perfect choice to create a highly-functional electronic document management system.
Our fruitful cooperation with the customer resulted in 3 successive releases of the product. Each subsequent version of the customer’s document management software for medical records was developed to modify and enhance the functionality of its predecessor. Thus, let’s take a look at the evolution of our DM system:
The rise. Firstly, we transformed quasi-paper inefficient document management processes, inefficiently managed DCR’s (Document Change Requests), and weakly controlled document post-approval changes with the help of Alfresco OOTB functionality. Among the key features that we implemented in the first version, there were: a standard toolset for workflow management, document versioning, and easily manageable audit trails. We also enabled seamless processes of document approval and rejection.
The security, in turn, was enabled via in-place features that prevented unwanted access. As a result, we developed a document management system with basic functionality and workflow.
The enhancements. The second version was marked by significant improvements in controlled documentation management, an audit trail of document activity, and security of the overall system. Since Alfresco OOTB functionality wasn’t enough to make the whole solution fully functional, we modified the UI by creating collapsible panels and an easily operated navigation bar with menu icons. We also enabled users to define whether the amendments made within the document were major or minor, and attach comments to these changes.
Moreover, users could seamlessly access the document’s full version history and track the required one. The security of the system was also modified since the previous version of the DM system didn’t fully enable high-level safety of the documentation workflow within the enterprise. Hence, for authorized users we extended the standard way of setting security permissions on documents and folders. It was also possible to classify the document security level by using a ‘Classification’ field that offered users 3 standard options: confidential, sensitive, and public.
The ideal solution. The necessity in the final improvements occurred due to the growth of our client’s enterprise, hence, more strict requirements towards workflow management and document security. We extended the standard tools set for workflow management by enabling users to set deadlines for workflows and configure diverse characteristics of the workflows they work with. Role-based access control became more complex and differentiated. For instance, only Workflow Managers could start and filter the ongoing assigned workflows, and approve the final version of particular documents.
The security aspect of the client’s healthcare document management system was also enhanced significantly; namely, we reinforced the security of audit trails by restricting the ability to modify, disable, and delete them. Also, in order to eliminate the risks of accident document deletion, we implemented a special request field where all users could provide the reason for the document/folder deletion.
Overall, after the third version, our customer obtained a highly-functional clinical trial DMS. Having gone through three iterations, the solution acquired those features that efficiently enable document safety and seamless workflows management.
The necessity to automate your healthcare organization is now higher than ever before. Likewise, the opportunities to integrate efficient technologies that will take the pain related to the document management processes away are greater than ever before. Thus, if you are ready to streamline your business with the right medical document management software but don’t know how, drop us a line, and our specialist will certainly guide you in the right direction.
What regulations should a medical DMS be compliant with?
Regulatory compliance is vital for such software. Firstly, the system should maintain a complete HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance that means your DMS addresses all technical, physical, and administrative safeguards outlined by HIPAA Security Rule. Secondly, the DMS of the US healthcare organizations should follow HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) software compliance principles that address the privacy and security concerns related to the electronic transmission of health information.
It’s also required to comply with the NHS (UK National Health Service) in case the software is developed for the British market. Finally, don’t forget about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines that require healthcare software to provide high security for all gathered and processed personal data.
Should medical DMS be integrated with other software within the organization’s infrastructure? Or do they function separately?
Document management systems are frequently used as standalone solutions. However, organizations may also want to enhance DMS capabilities by integrating it with other software. To understand whether the integration of your medical DMS with other existing services is worth it or not, it’s necessary to define what gaps the leveraged solutions cover and what value you will obtain from this integration. For example, let’s examine the integration of medical DMS and a healthcare CRM system.
The CRM contains all necessary patient and business-related information, and its main goal is to help businesses enhance patients’ loyalty to a particular healthcare organization and reduce churn. If we take DMS capabilities and empower them with CRM, we will create a fully integrated system that can help healthcare organizations significantly reduce costs spent on managing multiple disparate services, streamline documentation workflow, obtain more accurate insights, etc. This is an example of DMS integration with the other solution that can be rather fruitful for healthcare organizations.
How long does it take to develop a medical DMS?
There are two possible scenarios of medical DMS development that influence the time that will be spent on such software creation. The first option is the customization of the already existing solution on the market. Its essence is to take the OOTB functionality of the chosen software and adjust it to the needs of the healthcare organization. The estimation of time that will be spent on software customization is based on the size of the medical organization, business and technical requirements, and the extent to which the software needs to be customized.
Another scenario is to build such software from scratch. This option is more time, effort, and cost-consuming and takes at least 1 year for its development. For small-sized medical organizations, this option may be quite challenging in terms of budget; hence, it is more suitable for mid and large-sized organizations.
What is the best time to start using such software?
There are numerous factors that influence the necessity of medical document management software integration into the company’s infrastructure, such as the size of the company’s workforce, the volume of the documentation flow, etc. To avoid inefficient document-related processes, slow document retrieval, high costs on document storages, and other challenges that may emerge without such software, we advise starting using medical DMS from the very beginning of the institution’s existence since the volume of documentation is increasing rather rapidly in the healthcare industry.
Igor SushkoSoftware Solution Architect
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