How To Tell If Documents Are Being Mismanaged In Your Medical Practice
Your medical staff spends all day taking notes, whether on paper or electronically in your EHR. And once those notes are taken, where do they go? How are they being managed within your practice?
If you are struggling with medical document management, you’re not alone. In a busy practice, it’s easy to misfile patient information, discard important notes or struggle to locate the file you need.
When documents are unorganized and mismanaged, it not only affects the functionality of your practice, but it impacts your physicians and patients as well. You may be experiencing some hiccups surrounding patient documentation in your practice, and might be curious as to what is causing them.
In this blog, we detail tell-tale signs that your documents are being mismanaged as well as discuss a solution to this all-too-common problem.
8 Signs of Medical Document Mismanagement
1. Your team is unable to locate documents in 20 seconds or less
When your documents are properly organized, your team should have no problem locating patient information in 20 seconds or less.
If finding a specific document takes upwards of a minute, this is a sign that your documents are being mismanaged. To get to the root of the problem, ask your team what causes the delay in locating documents. It may be due to lack of organization, misfiled information or an unnecessary amount of outdated files, each of which we will dive into more below.
Your medical staff are busy people, and the extra time spent locating a patient’s file could be spent on improving patient care. Listen to their feedback and draft a plan for improving document management. This will not only free up extra time for your staff, but also improve overall productivity. After all, anything that saves you time in the office is worth taking advantage of!
2. There is no system set to keep documents organized
How are you organizing documents? It could be alphabetically, chronologically or numerically. Or, maybe you use colored tabs and extravagant fonts to organize files. Whatever method you use to organize documents, take a step back to see if it’s working.
Brightly colored tabs and outlandish fonts may be more of a distraction than an aid. Consider filing information in a more uniform way that is easier to navigate.
If your files are sorted alphabetically, is it by last name or first name? Are members of your staff consistently filing by last name, or accidentally by first name? A slip-up like this can cause quite an issue later on for staff trying to locate a patient’s information.
If your files are chronologically sorted, how far back do you go? If your documents date too far back, it may be time for a purge.
Regardless of how you’re sorting information, stick to one set method. Make sure everyone in your practice understands how to file and locate documents according to the method you establish. This will make managing patient information that much easier.
3. Your team is stuck sorting through outdated documents
Speaking of a document purge, outdated files are a sign of document mismanagement as well. Maybe you have patient files from 10 years ago that are no longer relevant, or files connected to a patient that hasn’t revisited your practice in years.
Obviously, each situation is different, and sometimes keeping old information is necessary. However, we’re sure that if you went through your current documents, you would find files that are no longer needed.
These files can junk up your system, and cause delays in locating current patient information. This is why it’s important to go through a biannual purge. Sorting through your paper and electronic documents biannually will help eliminate outdated files and streamline the process for locating patient information.
4. Delicate patient information is not being properly discarded
So you’ve purged your documents—now what? If you don’t have a set, secure system in place for discarding patient information, your documents are not being properly managed.
If you are not shredding or securely destroying old patient information, your practice could experience much larger issues such as a security incident or data breach. Without effective document management, these serious concerns could become an unfortunate reality.
Have a set process for discarding private patient information, and monitor it closely. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize the threat of an incident or breach and secure patient data, all while optimizing document management.
For more information on this topic, take a moment to read our blog:
5. Patient testing is frequently repeated
If you find that your medical staff is having to frequently repeat patient testing, it could be a sign your documents are being severely mismanaged. Not only does this cause stress on the patient, but it requires more time, money and effort from your practice to repeat testing.
If your staff is unable to locate files about tests that were performed or their results, testing will need to be repeated. This goes to show why it’s crucial for files to be organized, correct and easy to find for every patient, every time.
Taking more time than necessary to locate a document is one thing, but the outright inability to locate files is something else entirely. Make sure your staff understands the importance of proper document filing and management so you aren’t stuck reordering testing that has already been completed.
6. The lack of document continuity is impacting patient care
Document mismanagement not only affects your practice, but its patients as well. The time it takes to locate documents, or reorder testing places strain on the patient-provider relationship.
While negative patient feedback could be the result of a number of things, it could be due to issues surrounding document filing. Verify with your staff that they are correctly taking and filing patient information. That way, everyone can continue to work together to improve patient care through proper document management.
7. Patient information is being misfiled
Likely the most obvious sign of document mismanagement is finding misfiled patient information. If you’re constantly finding information for Patient A filed with Patient C, there’s an issue.
This could be a sign of a trend, and may be linked back to a specific physician or team member who is carelessly filing documents. Speak to that person, or persons, directly and determine what’s causing the misfile and how you can keep this situation from occurring in the future.
8. Your physicians are experiencing burnout
If your physicians are experiencing burnout, that stress and strain are coming from somewhere. More often than not, physician burnout is the result of a lack of time. This lack of time stems from tedious note-taking and extensive EHR work, among other things. Mismanaged documents are only fueling that flame!
Don’t let the lack of organization within your medical documents be the reason your physicians experience burnout. Instead, do your best to keep your documents neat and organized, allowing your physicians to find what they need quickly. When patient information is properly managed, your entire practice will reap the benefits.
But, sometimes managing your documents is easier said than done. Document management can be tedious, and something you may simply not have the time for. If this is the case, it may be time to consider investing in a company to manage your documents for you.
DataMatrix Medical’s Document Management Service
Here at DataMatrix Medical, we’re so much more than a medical transcription service. Our solutions include patient billing, coding, document management and more.
When it comes to document management, our services stand out above the rest. Our scanning solution service can focus your employees on generating revenue rather than tedious amounts of paperwork.
How do we do it? We scan documents in bulk for offsite review, then upload, attach and file within your patient’s chart via remote access. The result is high-quality, organized, functional and efficient patient documentation.
Proper document filing plays a larger role in the function of your practice than you may think. If your files desperately need to be managed, you can trust our team to manage them for you. Don’t operate with jumbled, missing or outdated documents—let our services be your solution!
Documentation mismanagement is just one of the many reasons physicians experience burnout. To learn more about what physician burnout is, and how to mitigate burnout at your practice, download our free guide, Successful Strategies To Mitigate Burnout At Your Practice below.