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With Hospitals 'Drowning in Paperwork,' Patients Look to Internet for Treatment

Patients expect their hospital experience to involve nothing less than the latest technology. That's why the idea of too much paperwork scares them off, sometimes to the point of choosing the Internet for help with medical conditions.

These are among the findings of an online survey conducted by Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults in the United States on behalf of Ricoh Americas Corporation. The focus was information mobility in American hospitals, the ability to efficiently move information among clinical and administrative workers regardless of whether it's paper-based or digital.

Many US adults say the following:

• Hospitals are drowning in paperwork, which cuts into the time health care workers are able to spend with patients (77% said this).

• Hospital patients feel more connected to health care providers who don't spend a lot of time on paperwork during visits (79%).

• They would rather search treatments on the Internet for non–life-threatening medical issues than deal with hospital paperwork to see a health care professional (60%).

• Hospitals that use tablets or other mobile devices to collect information from patients are more efficient than those that don't (74%).

"Everyone knows that paperwork can be inefficient and that electronic health records are a major goal of health care technology initiatives," says Ron Nielson, vice president of Ricoh Healthcare at Ricoh Americas Corporation. "But this survey goes further, revealing that patients react viscerally to the red tape they encounter in hospitals. We need to do better now, and we can."

The same research documented the benefits of reducing paperwork and digitizing hospital workflows.

• Nearly 9 in 10 (85%) respondents said they would feel more comfortable about a hospital's quality of care knowing it is using the latest technology.

• More than 9 in 10 US adults (92%) support hospitals spending money on technology to allow health care workers to spend more time with patients.

• More than 8 in 10 said that with the increased use of information management technology, hospital visits are more efficient (85%) and hospital admission and discharge processes go much faster (83%).

There's even an emotional dimension to the use of newer technology in hospitals: More than one-half (54%) say patients are less anxious during hospital visits when health care providers use tablets or other mobile devices to collect information.

"For whatever reason, hospitals seem to lag behind other business segments in the ability of clinicians and staff to access the information they need when they need it," continues Nielson. "Ricoh has studied the problem in depth and has developed powerful solutions to address common health care information needs, such as electronic health records, patient chart scanning, health information management workflow, patient ID wristbands, secure plain-paper prescription printing, and more. All of these are designed to help address health care's needs for privacy, security, cost-effectiveness, and a seamless patient experience."

Source: Ricoh