Last year, the State of California created the California Health Corps, a reserve team of medical professionals who could be deployed to fulfill state COVID-19 response efforts. These professionals were recruited from private practices that closed during the stay-at-home orders. Shortly after beginning the initiative, the group realized they were running into problems while collecting interested participants’ information via emails, paper forms, and phone calls. In response to the issue at hand, the team invested in an online form builder and data integration service that met all of their security and compliance needs.
Since 2009, many healthcare organizations have digitized their electronic healthcare records (EHR), an advancement largely attributed to federal subsidies under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. As a result, a central role of the modern healthcare CIO is to choose technology that reduces costs, eliminates regulatory burdens on providers, and delivers better patient outcomes. Despite this CIO prerogative, patients and providers alike often worry that new innovations will lead to increased costs. Expenses related to implementing and maintaining new technology can certainly add up quickly.
Administrative costs tend to be one of the biggest obstacles in keeping healthcare costs down. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), has cost healthcare systems billions of dollars since its enactment in 1996. Compliance has been costly primarily because of the complicated and time-consuming administrative burden it places upon healthcare organizations. Furthermore, noncompliance with HIPAA brings additional costs including fines, civil lawsuits, and other legal repercussions. Because of this, many CIO’s believe the best way technology can lead to savings rather than higher costs is if their investments are centered around better organization of healthcare data and its regulatory requirements.
While it seems that incentivizing the digitization of patient health information (PHI) would be a boost rather than a disadvantage for HIPAA compliance and overall data security, the HITECH Act also extended HIPAA liability to more healthcare entities and subcontractors, ultimately leading to greater administrative burdens within the healthcare supply chain.
One problem caused by digitized healthcare data is that the data often exists across multiple platforms. As many healthcare organizations move their services online, paperwork such as appointments and patient intake forms are now all handled digitally. Eventually, this information and data must be transferred from online web forms to internal EHR, CRM, and cloud-based systems. This process often leads to manual entry and duplicate work, increasing the risk of error and data breaches. Additional administrative safeguards meant to decrease risk of HIPAA violation end up contributing to higher costs.
To fix these problems, the California Health Corps invested in improving data governance by partnering with FormAssembly to streamline data collection with a web form-builder that is HIPAA-compliant, FedRAMP ready, and able to integrate directly with existing systems. This investment will improve future processes by bringing seamless PHI entry experiences that reduce administrative costs, while ensuring that data security concerns are met for both provider and patient. Better data, lower security risks, and cost-savings mean that California will ultimately be better equipped to handle future public health crises.
Aetna, an insurance provider with a large customer base, also invested in the data workflow technology to collect PHI and keep in contact with customers via secure surveys and research. Aetna used FormAssembly to create forms that could connect directly to Salesforce, leading to more opportunities to improve customer service. Seamless, HIPAA-compliant web-to-case forms bring an upgrade to communications that may have previously been susceptible to duplicate work from manual entry and potential data breaches. Other healthcare organizations, such as QTbreasthealth, a breast cancer screening company using new breast scan technology, have also relied on secure form-builder technology to build digital patient intake forms that integrate PHI directly into their EHR and CRM systems.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a greater need for governments to invest in public health technology. However, new investments must not lead to additional costs. One way to prevent additional costs is by ensuring that organizations are operating in compliance with federal regulations. Public sector spending should focus on healthcare data management to minimize non-compliance costs and reduce overall spending on administration. Investing in improved data collection experience through HIPAA-compliant healthcare forms to implement streamlined and secure processes for PHI management is a great place to start.
To learn more about how the California Health Corps used FormAssembly’s medical data form builder to quickly respond to the COVID-19 crisis, watch the webinar “Mobilizing Healthcare Resources with Better Data and Forms.”