Can Production Print Cure Healthcare Headaches?

As doctors and nurses rush about to save lives, healthcare facilities are trying to save money and remain cost-efficient.  Managing both priorities can be difficult, and effective healthcare, both from direct patient care and administrative functions, comes at a cost. Administrative expenses can make up as much as 25% of a hospital’s budget, and printing costs alone can approach a million dollars annually.

One way to mitigate some of these costs is to bring in industry experts (you!) who can offer best practices and recommendations for the most efficient use. And while you might expect the recommendations to fall along the lines of software to drive workflow automation solutions (and they do), another area you might not have considered that can make a major difference to speed, efficiency and the bottom line is in production print solutions. Production print can help address healthcare challenges while enhancing access to data, improving manual processes, and eliminating inefficiencies all while improving patient care and health outcomes. This is done through increased productivity, updated technology, and consistent high-quality output.

Previous production print workflows relied on operators to manually process files, quality check those files, review mailing lists, report undeliverables, and calculate billing. Printing was done on cumbersome and inefficient hardware. Modern production printers can offer high-quality output quickly, accommodating a high volume of print jobs. Digital technology allows today’s production printers to reduce costs and improve productivity. Connected, networked printers allow troubleshooting to be handled remotely. Add-ons like folders and cutters can streamline workflows. And just as healthcare workers need to be quick and flexible, digital production printers can make last-minute changes before printing.

Production printers are very efficient in a variety of ways. They can print in full color, which can make information easier to access. Perhaps more importantly, they can print on a number of different materials, including tags, certificates, tags and vinyl. This means that they can be used to create many different items of varying sizes and shapes — posters and informational signage, for example, that allow healthcare organizations to present their brand and identity in a uniform manner while keeping up with the rapidly changing on-demand needs the post-COVID environment has created. They can be used to print patient information, lab results and more. This saves time because providers don’t have to manually write information down or look it up in an electronic system. It also saves time because there is less risk of an error. Printed information can be verified again and again, making sure it is correct. This can save time and money by preventing costly errors and mistakes.

Full-color printing can also verify accuracy when it comes to information. If an organization is printing labels for patient medications, for example, the color of the labels can help providers identify the medication. Using color bars, dots or other identifier patterns, providers can make sure that the labels match the medicines and know exactly what each patient is taking. Along with logos, colors can also help healthcare organizations adhere to certain standards. For example, certain drugs may have specific colors associated with them.

Color on demand adds to the efficiency of a revamped production print environment. While previous solutions may have required a stock of pre-printed color forms, hospitals can now simply print the spot color directly as needed, saving on the cost of supplies.

Billing is another area where production hardware can streamline solutions. While manual processes and desktop printers may have required multiple passes and extra handling to get individualized billing forms into envelopes, a large production printer with a Fiery front end, the right software, and add-ons like folders and inserters can not only streamline and save costs, they can reduce the chance for human error.

Human error is always something to be avoided, but perhaps more so in a healthcare environment where lives are at stake. Production printers allow for the ability to print documents with barcodes and complex data fields, allowing organizations to send critical information or documentation to other departments without the need for manual entry. When you consider that each day, a typical healthcare organization will receive thousands of pieces of paper that need to be manually entered into the system, the importance of this functionality becomes clear. Printed barcodes and tags are also critical for auditing and verification, as they can be scanned and verified later. This can be critical for tracking inventory and supplies, conducting inventory audits and more.

Healthcare organizations are the ultimate distributed environment, and distributed print environments are notoriously difficult to manage. With hospitals, outpatient sites, administrative offices and clinics spread throughout the globe, print access can be a challenge. A distributed print process will start with a thorough assessment of an organization and from there, create a detailed picture of how much is being printed, by whom, and where. From there, you can strategically place the right number of devices in the right location, digitize paper records, and automate manual processes. A production print environment can also reduce duplicate testing, mistakes in documentation, missing prescription orders, and lost paper faxes – all while complying with HIPAA security guidelines. Additionally, space formerly used to store previously printed files can be reimagined into a revenue-generating space instead.

Automation allows departmental resources to be freed to focus on their primary mission – getting and keeping people healthy. Ancillary, yet crucial functions like claims processing, forms management, AP/AR, mailroom services, and scanning solutions can also be managed in-house by a smaller, dedicated team, saving resources and costs and allowing healthcare organizations to focus on patient care.

As the need for printed pages declines and technological transformation increases, many organizations are looking to move their production printing in-house. Educating your customers about these innovations with help improve both their business, and your own.