How a Mississippi health system used an electronic consent process to cut through the chaos of 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized healthcare and made critical the need for practices to ensure they could continue performing elective procedures without delay.

In a recent webinar – hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Interlace Health, a company specializing in digital workflows – discussion focused on how health systems can protect their elective procedure volumes in light of COVID-19.

The speakers were Dessiree Paoli, Senior Solution Marketing Manager with Interlace Health, and Ellie Silver, a Solution Architect with Interlace Health.

Here are four key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Delays are costly. During the two major periods of elective surgical delays in 2020, health systems were losing a combined $1 billion a day for every day a delay continued, according to a May 2020 report from the American Medical Association. Going from operating normally to a period of delay strains facilities and staff fiscally and operationally, and that strain doesn't vanish after a facility can resume elective cases. The stress of restarting a program contributed greatly to physician and staff burnout, and administrators also had the added lift of establishing a COVID-19 screening program. These factors are just some of the multiple things systems had to deal with in 2020, and could reemerge in 2021.

2. Burdens on burdens. Along with the pandemic-related burdens, healthcare facilities also face a scourge of regular operations-related issues. One such area plaguing the industry is the reliance on paper-based consent processes. Paper-based processes increase stress on administrators, Ms. Paoli said. Sixty-seven percent of surgical consents are missing on the day of surgery, resulting in 14 percent of those surgeries having to be delayed or rescheduled, according to data from Interlace Health. Paper-based delays are also a noted contributor to burnout, with 25 percent of nurses reporting spending more time on paperwork than on contributing to patient care.

3. Why digital is the way to go. An electronic consent process speeds up efficiencies at a facility while decreasing the administrative burden. Electronic processes are fully customizable and can easily be filled out by patients. "Innovation is key in healthcare," Ms. Silver said. "With electronic consent … a large health system was able to save time and reduce errors by having patient-specific information auto populate into the specific consent form the patient needed. They signed it and that got seamlessly integrated into their EHR."

4. Organizing the chaos. Ocean Springs, Miss.-based Singing River Health worked with Interlace Health in 2020 to implement an electronic consent process. The system specifically automated, digitized and centralized its informed consent processing forms, created custom forms that integrated into patients' EHRs, and moved forms onto tablets to allow for bedside and waiting room completion. "Usability and adoption were key factors in their choice to partner with us," said Ms. Paoli. "Their staff was originally hesitant to embrace the change … but after their first user training session, they could see the benefits to their workflow and they quickly became the biggest proponents for the system."

View a copy of this webinar here. Learn more about Interlace Health here.

More articles on surgery centers:
Amazon's healthcare moves: 7 notes for ASCs and physicians
What ASC management company had the best 2020? & more — 9 ASC industry notes
3 joint-venture ASCs opened or announced in January

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