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EMRs Need Document Management to Support Meaningful Use

ECM And BPM Anchor The Portfolio Of Technologies That Will Improve Hospitals’ Processes

Forrester interviewed seven executives of software companies providing ECM, workflow, and clinical systems; 25 IT and business process professionals at medical providers; and 15 hospital CIOs through the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and found that providers struggle with siloed information systems and processes, a medical record that continues to grow, and relentless price pressures from payers and employers. Pressure is also mounting to support electronic medical record (EMR) systems, health information exchanges (HIE), and cross provider electronic health records (EHRs).

For most providers, the patient chart is still predominantly a paper document managed in manila folders in large file rooms. But this is changing, as document scanning and content management systems make the original paper charts easier to access. EMR systems take it one step further, capturing patient information and clinical orders in a structured way that lends itself to decision support. Diagnostic images — x-ray, MRI, and CAT — represent a particularly storage-intensive piece of the patient record. While it’s currently difficult to manage this diversity, it will get worse. Other forms of content, such as coordination emails, will need to be managed as part of the patient records as well.

Transforming our paper-based mentality into a streamlined 21st century electronic system will require moving through stages of maturity from paper charts to the cross-provider electronic health record (EHR). Our interviews with US healthcare providers found that a narrow focus on electronic medical records and paper replacement technologies will fall short. The federal stimulus package’s mandate for meaningful use will require a process-centric view and a portfolio of technologies including enterprise content management (ECM), business process management (BPM), and forms automation. A three-phase maturity model shows how these foundation technologies help migrate to the 21st century healthcare system.

This report reviews the survey data and outlines the three-phase maturity model that shows executives how to migrate to the 21st century healthcare system.

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