Hospitals and healthcare organisations deal with huge quantities of sensitive data from a variety of locations. This volume of information can make keeping in compliance with data regulations (such as the strict guidelines in UK National Health Service laws) a real challenge. Sensitive information must be kept safe and secure, whether it’s patient data in the form of electronic health records (EHR) and personal health information (PHI), insurance cards, co-payment receipts, physician notes, diagnosis codes, lab results… all must be tracked and made easily accessible without risking their security; as the loss, corruption or theft of this information can prove extremely costly. But at the same time, this content must also be easily accessible to healthcare workers.
It’s a bit of a catch-22 for IT decision-makers in healthcare: do you lock down all your content, making it hard for healthcare professionals to find what they’re looking for? Or do you make information as readily available as possible, and up the chances of human error and the risk of losing sensitive content? In this post, we’ll explore some of the difficulties of healthcare document management and how you can combat them.
Evolving technology can create problems for healthcare document management
Mobile devices are capable of improving patients’ ability to self-manage their health and wellbeing. Currently, smartphone apps are gradually being rolled out among healthcare organisations. Patients can use an app on their smartphone for more regular monitoring of health, able to alert healthcare professionals to any changes in conditions so they can deliver more efficient and more cost-effective healthcare. Mobile technology can enable this improved access to information and is therefore a big driver for better engagement with patients.
But while patients can benefit from using mobile technology in healthcare, professionals will instead encounter some additional challenges, namely issues with storing sensitive information.
Already, patient documents are created in disparate systems and departments in a multitude of formats—scanned paper records, faxes, photos, radiological images and emails. With mobile functionality enabling a sort of ‘home-care’, utilising e-visits, e-prescriptions and remote monitoring, this creates even more types of data that need to be stored.
As a result of increased mobility for healthcare professionals, ‘offline’ data—that is, information that isn’t immediately synchronised to a server—will likely increase in volume as more healthcare professionals begin working remotely. While making the journey to a patient’s home, for example, they may be working on a document without an internet connection. Any changes that are made ‘offline’ then need to be updated so other colleagues are not left with outdated documents. This is not a problem, as long as you have a capable platform that is able to synchronise those offline changes when the doctor or nurse reconnects to the internet.
Where do you store all this information?
For the majority of organisations today, storing company content is done through SharePoint Online as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. While SharePoint is an excellent platform for content creation and storage, OneDrive for Business—responsible for the synchronisation of your SharePoint content—has not seen such success. Synchronisation problems and issues with conflicted documents have riddled the software since its release, and are usually the result of changes being made to a document both online and offline, simultaneously.
With OneDrive for Business, if an individual making offline changes on their mobile device while another makes changes to the same file in SharePoint, employees will have to then deal with conflicted documents. To resolve these conflicts, colleagues must discuss and decide on a new version that incorporates all the changes that have been made. This is obviously a big issue when it comes to productivity—something mobile working is aiming to improve, not hinder.
With content constantly moving from person to person and device to device, the ramifications that come with non-compliance of keeping sensitive information secure make it imperative you use a platform that can keep mobile and desktop files synchronised and facilitate offline working.
Working with offline files can be Easier
Easier365 was built to bypass many of these issues while still working in conjunction with your Office 365 environment. File synchronisation is down to the item level, meaning you no longer have to sync every file in a SharePoint folder to your laptop or smartphone. Nor do you have to think about file limits or sizes when synchronising content. You can work the same with SharePoint 2007 and 2010 just as you would with SharePoint 2013, 2016 and Office 365, without having to worry about different generation sync clients. And when it comes to security, Easier365 also offers remote deletion, so you can delete files locally on your mobile device without also deleting them on SharePoint.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is Easier365’s conflict resolution. With healthcare professionals working offline on mobile devices and online on desktops, conflicts are far more likely. With OneDrive for Business, this means multiple, conflicting copies of the same document with no indication to which is the ‘correct’ file. Easier365 gives you control over your conflicts.
- Restore an earlier version of the document
- Remove/Remove All allows you to delete all your latest changes if, for instance, you decide minor formatting edits you made weren’t necessary
- Merge, as the name suggests, merges the two conflicting documents – it obviously only works if changes haven’t been made to the same sections
- Compare is useful when there have been changes made to the same sections of the file. The compare view allows you to work through the differences side by side and decide on which is the best option.