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Supply chain issues on the rise - Maintaining seamless patient communications in a paperless world

February 14, 2022
Health IT
Zach Zettler
From the March 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Zach Zettler

Supply chain issues have been ongoing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunately, the healthcare industry is not exempt from this challenge. With 99% of healthcare professionals in a recent survey reporting challenges in supply procurement, including shortages of key items like masks and gowns as well as significant price increases, it is clear this is a widespread problem throughout the industry. While PPE, medicine, and vaccines are top of mind when it comes to supply, paper has also been affected with costs increasing by 50% since August 2020. For many practices, this represents a significant concern.

Given disruption of the supply chains, as well as evolving provider needs and patient expectations, many healthcare practices are going paperless. For those making the switch, there are steps that can be taken to streamline this move while cutting costs and avoiding supply chain challenges.

The true cost of paper
Healthcare paperwork has become increasingly resource-intensive in recent years. A 2020 study revealed medical paperwork and administration cost $812 billion and account for more than one-third of total spending for doctor visits, hospitals, long-term care and health insurance. All without the rising paper costs factored in. In addition to the financial costs, paper-driven processes can be incredibly time consuming. For example, it takes 18 minutes for an average person to find information they need in a paper document, compared to about 2 seconds in a searchable electronic document.

Moreover, as expectations evolved over the last two years, patients are increasingly seeking convenience as well as the ability to interact more often and more efficiently with their providers. This often includes communicating with providers digitally. In fact, a recent survey found that 53% of consumers would prefer to update or provide their patient information to a healthcare provider through online forms that are accessible via mobile phone, email or a patient portal.

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