A Patient eSignature Case Study
One Hospital’s Fulfilled Promise to their Community
Nestled in southern Missouri, just under a two-hour drive southeast of Springfield and a mere 16 miles north of the Arkansas border, is the tranquil town of West Plains and the home of Ozarks Healthcare. Since opening its doors in 1959 with 42 beds and 60 employees, Ozarks Healthcare has provided quality healthcare to the residents of Howell County and its surrounding communities. Today, Ozarks Healthcare, which has grown to 114 beds and over 1,200 employees, is one of the largest employers in the area and the go-to provider for quality medical services.
PATIENT ESIGNATURE Case Study Highlights
- Removing a disjointed technology ecosystem for a single comprehensive EMR Platform.
- Implementing electronic registration process & the value of a strong support network.
- Benefits of eliminating paper including more care time spent with patients, speed & improved form accuracy.
The Right Care, Right Here
The slogan of Ozarks Healthcare, “The Right Care, Right Here,” is more than just a clever catchphrase; it is the cornerstone of their mission. Ozarks Healthcare is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of care they provide and find new and innovative ways to better serve their patients. Prior to the pandemic, a strategic plan was put in place that included updating and expanding the facilities, as well as a significant investment in a modernized and unified Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform.
Watch Our Onsight Visit with Ozarks Below
Better Patient Care Through Technology
Michelle Wetzel, Systems Analyst at Ozarks Healthcare, says,
“For decades, Ozarks Healthcare operated using many different technology solutions adopted through the years that did not integrate or communicate with one another. This led to a complicated and disjointed technology ecosystem that did not enable us to best serve our patients, our doctors, and other clinical staff.”
Like many of the other employees at Ozarks Healthcare, Wetzel was born at Ozarks Healthcare, grew up in West Plains, and has spent her career at Ozarks passionately serving her community.
“A significant way we could increase our capacity to provide next-level care to our community was to adopt a single comprehensive EMR platform,” says Wetzel.
To that end, they adopted the MEDITECH Expanse EMR platform, which fully integrates all service departments under a single united and capable umbrella.
The MEDITECH Expanse platform, as good and comprehensive as it is, does not have every single answer to every single situation that exists in the extremely broad and complicated system that is a hospital, however.
The Pervasive Paper Problem
Paper-based processes still posed a problem for Ozarks Healthcare.
“In Registration, we were still handing packets of paper to patients, which was frustrating for them. This paper also slowed down our registration process. People had to scan these documents into MEDITECH Scan/Archive and things would get really messed up if any paper forms got lost or found their way somewhere they should not be,” Wetzel explains.
These paper-based processes and accompanying problems ran counter to the promise of better healthcare that Ozarks Healthcare had made to its community.
Patient eSignature | Eliminating Paper + Freeing Up Staff + A Better Patient Experience
As Ozarks Healthcare looked for solutions to eliminate paper from these processes, they turned to Access EFM as their preferred partner to integrate into their MEDITECH Expanse ecosystem.
“After seeing the partnership Access and MEDITECH had, and the seamless integration capabilities Access offered into our MEDITECH Expanse platform, it was clear that they were the best path forward,” says Wetzel.
MEDITECH Integration & Why It Matters
Access has been a long-time partner of MEDITECH and is one of the founding members of MEDITECH’s Greenfield Alliance program, aimed at improving interoperability. The Access EFM Platform is a native application within MEDITECH Expanse, and registration staff can launch the Access eSignature solution from right within their workflows.
“This was important for us because we didn’t want to have to train our staff on two different platforms or force them to leave one system to go use another,” says Wetzel.
Seamlessly integrated within the MEDITECH Expanse registration workflow, Access intelligently selects the unique forms each patient needs to sign. These electronic documents are then passed to a tablet using the patented “handoff” feature from Access, and the patient can read, interact, and electronically sign the documents. The completed documents are then filed directly into the patient’s electronic record within the MEDITECH Scan/Archive system, making them immediately available for viewing by the entire patient care team.
The Benefits of Patient eSignature
“Removing the paper vastly improved the patient’s experience. Additionally, with no paper around, there was no opportunity for human error. Everything was always where it needed to be. This made the lives of everyone so much better,” says Wetzel. “By using the Access eSignature solutions, we also noticed something else interesting. Because our staff was not having to focus as much on pushing paper, they could focus more on attending to the patient.”
It’s All About Community
“In West Plains, just about everybody knows everybody. Our patients are everything to us, because these are the same people we see out in our community, at Little League baseball games, at church, and at the grocery store. They are our friends and our family. We have history together,” Wetzel explains. “Doing right by them is not just our job. It is our mission. It is the reason all of us choose to work for Ozarks Healthcare. This is our way of serving our community and making the place where we live just that much better.”