by Greg Park
A good portion of my day is spent reviewing changes within the healthcare and document management industries. Recently I came across a very well thought out document titled Seven Things You Should Look For In Document Management Systems. This is a terrific article, but I wanted to give it a healthcare flavor, and since I like to keep things simple here are my Three Things To Look For In A Document Management Solution (DMS).
- Where Does The Platform Get Its Content?
Most document management systems will have various methods for obtaining documents and data. These methods include scanning, cold, interface interpretation and interactive input. Let’s discuss each of these in more detail.
Scanning is very well understood, and many consumers often consider scanning as the primary or sole input to a DMS. This is rarely the case in a live environment such as scanning and is the least efficient of all input methods. Before you make any decision on a DMS make sure you understand the width and variety of the content you need to manage. Will content come from both outside and inside your organization? Outside content is typically static and unchangeable and may require scanning. Whereas internal content can be migrated from paper and onto electronic data capture methods. Make sure your DMS addresses methods for moving from paper to electronic capture methods. At dbtech, we call those Interactive eForms.
Cold refers to computer output to laser disk. This is an old term, but is the means of capturing output from a system that was meant to be printed. This is how Ras got its start back in the early 1990’s. With cold solutions, documents are electronically analyzed for structures and data that permit automated indexing of documents – without user intervention. Typically, cold-captured content is presented to the user in the exact format it would have been printed.
Interface interpretation refers to gathering information from various platforms via industry standard transactions. In healthcare, this standard is HL7 – and you need to know how your DMS processes HL7. Is your vendor merely maintaining an archive of HL7 messages? Or, are they using this data to update patient indexes or to fill data into electronic forms? At dbtech we use HL7 messages to assure your Rasi patient data is always current, and that eForms will always contain relevant patient data.
Interactive input is the information your document management users input directly into the DMS. In healthcare this might be the act of creating patient records in downtime scenarios or collecting electronic patient signatures via interactive forms at registration.
Never has the phrase, ‘time is money’ been more true than in healthcare.
- How Does The Document Management System Permit Searching
Greater DMS index specificity demands greater application definition design during implementation. For instance, if you are planning to scan or collect lab results via a cold fed interface, you will most definitely want to index these documents to the patient account. Indexing the lab result to the patient account quickens the search process and provides value to your users, but is that enough?
Never has the phrase, “time is money” been more true than in healthcare. What happens when the patient has 20 plus different lab results? How quick or useful is that index to the patient if the user can’t quickly find relevant documents? Lab results also need to be indexed to the accession number of the specific test. Can the DMS you are investigating index the output according to both the patient and the accession number?
Any document management system you select should have both broad (patient account) and detailed (accession number) methods for indexing your input.
- How Tight Is The Application Security?
With all of the regulations regarding security (PCI, HIPAA, SOX, ISO, etc.), you had better take security very seriously. How does the DMS protect data at rest (most vulnerable) and data in transit? Are you forced to export documents to users outside of your network, or does it provide an easily accessible, web based front-end where you can share documents while maintaining security and ownership?
The security of data at rest is criticall, as most security breaches involve documents and data that are stored on disk drives and paper output.
The security of data at rest is critical, as most security breaches involve documents and data that are stored on disk drives and paper output. How does the DMS store content? Are the files encrypted, and to what level? Can IT users browse the file structure and identify documents and their index? Can documents be opened outside of the DMS? Are all actions audited by the DMS?
Some DMS’ permit users to export documents outside of the system for transfer to external business partners, and this is perfectly acceptable if you must go this route. Think about where you might need to transfer documents and data. Then consider whether the DMS has tools to assure industry acceptable encryption. Once you transfer a document from your DMS, you have lost control over the audit of that document. Will the recipient of your file maintain security as well as you? Will they further share it with their partners? Will they respect your document life-cycle? Many of these concerns can be alleviated if the DMS permits access through a view only portal. Portals assure you maintain ownership of your corporate content while leveraging the value of your business partners.
Are there more things to consider? Absolutely!!