Informed consents are going digital – 5 ways electronic solutions are transforming provider, patient experience 

As mobile devices and online interactions become more prevalent in the healthcare space, digitizing processes such as receiving informed consent from patients will help hospitals and health systems increase patient engagement and streamline workflows for providers.

Paper-based consent processes are prone to issues and challenges such as incomplete forms, illegible handwriting and misplaced paperwork. Transforming the process to digital targets these challenges and broadens opportunities for increased patient education.

During an Aug. 5 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Interlace Health, industry experts discussed how electronic informed consent streamlines provider workflows by saving time and resources. Singing River Health System in Ocean Springs, Miss., shared best practices their health system followed when digitizing its own process.

The speakers were:

  • Dessiree Paoli, senior solution marketing manager at Interlace Health
  • Ann Hill, solution architect at Interlace Health
  • Janell Goff, information systems project manager at Singing River Health System

Five takeaways:

1. COVID-19 pandemic created healthcare's "Amazon moment." Hospitals and health systems have increasingly relied on technology solutions to support telehealth visits and reduced physical contact in shared spaces to limit in-person contact. "As a result, low touch or no touch communication options are needed now more than ever," Ms. Paoli said. "Paper is cumbersome and requires in-person or low-tech interactions that just don't satisfy the needs of the patient today," who are shifting more to mobile and online interactions as much as possible.

2. Electronic consent simplifies process and increases engagement. With Interlace Health's mobile solution, the clinician can scan the QR code on a patient's wristband to automatically pull up any forms in progress so the clinician can finish the paperwork with the patient. Both can electronically sign the forms, which are then electronically transferred directly to the EHR.

"We looked at how clinicians can easily identify patients and launch the appropriate consent triggered from the procedure," Ms. Hill said. "We saw how clinicians can walk through the different pieces of the consent with the patient as an active participant in the informed consent process and how providers and patients can sign the consent and submit it for automatic addition to the patient's chart."

3. Singing River Health System locks in on customization and adoption opportunities. The health system chose Interlace Health's electronic consent solution because it allowed them to customize its electronic forms to fit the needs of the system's legal, compliance and providers' requests rather than using the same stock forms, according to Ms. Goff. She added that Interlace Health's solution was also easy for providers to get behind during the digitization process because it was simple and easy to use.

4. Providers are key for adoption. When Ms. Goff implemented the electronic consent solution, she focused on nursing managers and office managers. She quickly pivoted and zeroed in on provider engagement, since providers are the ones directly involved with the new technology. "For my rollout strategy, I decided I would focus on one department or area at a time, rather than doing a large implementation at once," Ms. Goff said. "That really has been the main reason for the success in the areas where I have rolled out this product."

5. Digitized consent process saves resources and reduces costs. By switching to electronic forms, hospitals and health systems decrease printing costs, staffing costs and delays, according to Ms. Paoli. Moving from a paper to an electronic process gives nurses more time to focus on other responsibilities instead of tracking down lost consent forms and processing paperwork, which can also lead to delays.

Click here to view the full webinar.

More articles on health IT:
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Why UCLA Health's IT team was uniquely prepared for the pandemic and how it will change moving forward
Washington hasn't reported COVID-19 positivity rate since Aug. 1 due to duplication issues

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