There is no underselling the importance of efficient document processes to the overall success of a business. Whether paper, digital, or both, document processes play a major role in day-to-day operations, regardless of the industry you operate in. This, of course, means that any flaws or errors in these processes can cause a long list of problems.
Aside from the annoyances that come from documents being misplaced, mislabeled, or otherwise made unavailable, document process issues can create serious risks for both security and compliance.
Something as seemingly innocuous as paperwork hiccups might not register as a problem worth looking into, which may be why a staggering number of businesses report that document process deficiencies have caused security and/or compliance risks for them. Not having a reliable system in place makes document management a major headache from an employee perspective and a nightmare from a compliance standpoint.
Think of it like this; if you operate a medical clinic and need to provide auditors with access to your documentation, there can’t be anything missing. If you tell your HIPAA auditor that this is the process your team uses to keep files organized and secure, yet a glance at a patient file shows missing documentation, misfiled results or reports, or mislabeled documents pertaining to an entirely different patient, you’ve got a big violation on your hands.
A large part of HIPAA compliance, PCI DSS, or any other compliance regulations revolves around data security. You need to be able to guarantee that you know exactly where each and every document in your possession is at any given moment. If the processes you have in place for that are unreliable, trouble is imminent.
These inefficiencies and flaws can wind up costing you in more ways than one. Risks aside, a less-than-ideal set of document processes can leave your staff working with a handicap. Not only is productivity impacted by poor document processes causing you to lose out on profits, but the approach many businesses take to fixing these issues is generally anything but cost-efficient.
Since this is, for the most part, a technology issue, the reaction is typically to upgrade the technology you’re working with. With newer and more efficient technology tools in place, there is the potential to streamline and speed up your document processes, giving employees more time to focus on other tasks and on customers, clients, or patients. But the reality is that this only fixes half the problem.
You can put new tires on a car, change the oil, and replace the brake pads, but if the engine is shot, all of those other upgrades and changes don’t mean much. In this case, the engine is your document processes themselves. Before you reach for your wallet, take a thorough look at your current protocols. There may very well be a specific issue that can be fixed or a problem area that could be smoothed over with new technology, but odds are the bulk of the problems you’re facing are due to your procedures and protocols.
No matter how much of your document process is automated or how basic those protocols are, it’s up to your staff to put those protocols into motion. The people accepting and filing patient intake forms, service orders, product orders, payments, and any other documentation have the biggest potential to affect how well your overall process works. If they frequently shortcut steps in your protocols, allow documents to pile up throughout the day to be rushed through at the end of their shift, or ignore parts of the process altogether to “make less work” for themselves, your processes won’t be what you need them to be.
It’s up to you to make your team understand that these practices exist for a reason, and need to be followed to the letter. If employees come to you with a legitimate reason for changing part of those procedures, listen to them. The people who use these processes day after day have better insight into any flaws than the C-Level or upper management members who create guidelines that they themselves aren’t affected by.
When it comes time to consider where your next technology investment should be made, consider your document processes. Your organization can’t function without data, and these protocols control the flow of that data. Make improving document processes a priority, and you’ll be surprised by how much easier other tasks will become.
If you’re not sure where to start or have concerns about how your current or potential new processes might impact your security and compliance status, don’t hesitate to reach out to experienced professionals. A good IT support provider will gladly help you by offering guidance and advice, and they’ll make sure that you have the right technology in place to support your processes.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are three more articles from our blog that you may enjoy as well:Published on 9th July 2018 by Shawn Maggio