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Apr 2 2013   11:40AM GMT

Q&A: Health care enterprise content management challenges, opportunities

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
Clinical documentation, ECM, EHR, enterprise content management

The benefits of health care enterprise content management (ECM) are clear to those who have invested time and effort into it, though it has been relatively slow to catch on throughout the industry. In addition to improved interoperability and medical record storage, using ECM software to manage unstructured patient data encourages interoperability, addresses meaningful use and provides an efficient framework for document management and consistency within an electronic health record (EHR).

What goes into a provider’s decision to switch to a new ECM product? Barbara Walters, senior business analyst for medical center information technology at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, explains the process, elaborates on the challenges and sheds some light onto what is still keeping her up at night regarding the system’s ECM software conversion.

Q. What was the process like to switch from IBM’s FileNet to OnBase’s integration with Epic for enterprise content management?

Barbara Walters: We converted 29 million documents over a ten month period, focusing first on clinical documents, then on revenue cycle docs. It took four months of planning with On Base and Epic, with the biggest obstacle being ourselves. Between 2005 and 2012, we had 22 million clinical images and 9 million revenue cycle images, but we also had over 3,500 different document types, so it was a considerable job for health information management to consolidate down to approximately 700 document types. They wanted to be as specific as possible. We then took all of our data fields and created new keywords in On Base, with category and document names organized by groups and validated through a homegrown process.

Q. What are some of the challenges you are still facing?

Walters: Now, registration, revenue cycle, base applications and Epic ambulatory are converted, with inpatient coming next. But, what’s the best way to do inpatient transitioning? We want to narrow it down based on time sensitivity. Another challenge is file transfer. Getting scanners for all hospitals is nearly impossible and lots of documents still come through fax. It’s an antiquated process.

Q. What still keeps  you up at night in terms of ECM?

Walters: Operations and end users, because the integration with On Base and Epic is so transparent. We need more integration between Epic and On Base’s storage server. If there were ways to make that integration tighter, that’d be good. On Base has great integration for clinical documents, but we don’t have that interface just yet. We’re still going through growing our Epic implementation.

Jenny serves as the senior community manager for SearchHealthIT’s Health IT Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @HITExchange and @jennylaurello.

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