Part 2: The Shift to Enterprise Content Management

In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive healthcare reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. While some provisions of the law have already taken effect, many more provisions are scheduled and implemented in the coming years. One such provision is the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs). An EMR allows healthcare providers to record patient information electronically instead of using paper records.

Additionally, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program provides incentive payments to eligible healthcare professionals, hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EMR technology.

Because of this hospitals and physicians were evaluating vendor platforms, allocating time for managing internal staff training for documentation to attest to providing patient care; and software vendors were constantly focusing on meaningful use as the dominant aspect of their product roadmaps.  For the CIO and the CFO of hospitals and physician organizations, all eyes were on reimbursement for attestation and efforts to install and use software for much more than just order entry.

With this change the document management solution still remained a required element of a complete legally viable and reproducible medical record, but the end user focus shifted to the EMR. And so DMI vendors addressed the need to more fully automate the collection and use of data in conjunction with the EMR. This initial move to what is called Enterprise Content Management (ECM) had significant impact on the number of former DMI vendors that chose to remain in this space, winnowing away at those providing these services. A similar impact occurred to the number of EMR vendors.

The focus had shifted to what has come to be known as interoperability and business process automation to enable data and document sharing well beyond an end user’s ease of use accessing multiple systems with a single sign-on password. ECM software and service providers began to be tracked and evaluated by companies such as Gartner and Forrester.

ECM product vendors began to incorporate new technologies and methodologies. Simple workflow routines have given way now to using technology for more complex and multi-step front-to-end process automation. The use of optical character recognition, or OCR, was also included to simplify the manual work associated with scanning and indexing documents. Hospitals and physician offices now had so much more data and documentation to collect and manage, and that included electronic referrals, electronic EOB files for claims reconciliation, and for their own on-line purchase order or staff recruitment resumes.

To read part one of this series, click here.