2017 – The Year of FormStream
Sometimes one of the biggest obstacles to a smooth workflow can be slow, error prone form filling. At Voice Technologies we speak to many customers, from fields as diverse as healthcare, law and local government, whose everyday challenges include gathering data for forms used to generate documents that need to reach the right people at the right time.
Consider a team of healthcare providers running a multi-disciplinary meeting. They bring together clinicians every week to discuss patient care and decide on the next steps. Before each meeting, a secretary manually creates and maintains the list of patients to be discussed. Each speciality gathers relevant information for each patient such as test results, lab results etc. Notes are taken at the meeting and dictated later. The dictation is then transcribed by a secretary, returned for verification and finally added to the patient’s electronic record and sent to their GP, normally by post.
The process has obvious drawbacks; it’s costly, onerous and time-consuming, with delays at each stage of producing the final document. It’s also prone to error, with dictations being carried out at irregular intervals after the meeting and clinicians having to recall meeting discussions to verify the content of the post-meeting document issued by the secretary.
Now consider a local council that handles council tax enquiries via numerous communication channels including enquiry desks in council offices, mobile advice centres, email and phone calls. Each channel needs staff to be involved in the process, handling the conversation and manually keying information into forms, or re-keying data supplied electronically.
The paper-based system has inherent costs; staffing, printing, postage, electronic storage, and secure disposal of confidential data. In addition, the council’s administrative services are over-stretched because of staffing reductions.
In both situations, paper forms fall short. There is a need for forms that are easily accessible, simplify the form-filling process wherever possible and streamline distribution.
FormStream is a web-based application that replaces the paper forms commonly used for information capture with e-forms. It has proven so successful in transforming workflows like the ones above, saving time and money in the process, that customers who have applied it in one scenario have asked for it to be replicated in other areas of their organisations.
What are e-Forms?
An e-form (electronic form) is a computer programme version of a paper form. Aside from eliminating the cost of printing, storing, and distributing pre-printed forms, and the wastage of obsolete forms, e-forms can be filled out faster because the programming associated with them can automatically format, calculate, look up, and validate information for the user. With digital signatures and routing via e-mail, approval cycle times can be significantly reduced. With electronic submission of completed forms, you can eliminate the cost of rekeying data and the associated errors.
Compared to paper forms, e-forms allow more focus on the business process or underlying problem for which they are designed (for example, expense reporting, purchasing, or time reporting). They can understand the roles and responsibilities of the different participants of the process and, in turn, automate routing and much of the decision making necessary to process the form.
How FormStream works
First, we examine our customer’s current paper-based workflow. We get under the skin of the functionality needed in the form; who needs to input into it, what information it needs to capture, who needs the final document. For each e-form, permission rights, notifications and alerts can all be customised.
Once we have a thorough understanding of the workflow, we look at the context of the form – turnaround times, prioritisation requirements and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) environment.
Capturing data and sharing the information securely with the wider audience required in decision making is a key feature of FormStream. If your e-form needs to link to other applications, we have software developers in-house who have the skills to ensure that FormStream interfaces seamlessly using plug-ins or customised script.
Frequently, we assess workflows and find that, with the correct interface, the e-forms we create for customers can pull information from existing applications to automate the form-filling process, speeding it up and avoiding manual error in the process. Making use of existing assets is just one of the ways we add value to the introduction of e-forms.
Having high quality and accurate information in your forms is key. We work hard to ensure that the bespoke forms we design capture all the essential information while making input easy for the user, and the output clear and simple.
We do this by collaborating closely with our customers through every step of the process from planning and design through to implementation and training
Why Voice Technologies?
Customers we’ve worked with over a long period have more of a partnership relationship with Voice Technologies than a supplier-client relationship. This is a result of our customers’ willingness to be open with us about the challenges they face, and our willingness to proactively work with them to find solutions that meet their operational and commercial objectives.
Each and every one of our products has started life as a response to customers’ challenges.
NHS Highland – Maternity Summary
Maternity care is often complex with community and hospital based teams involved in patient care. Voice Technologies has created the Maternity Care Summary to gather and store information related to a patient’s pregnancy.
The e-form has numerous benefits in comparison to paper-based forms. As well as making the gathering of information simple and quick, it provides a central record for each patient. This allows the professionals involved in the patient’s care to share information easily thanks to links to Electronic Patient Records (EPRs) as well as an electronic distribution facility.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway – Mental Health Risk Assessment e-Form
Voice Technologies, in collaboration with NHS Dumfries and Galloway, created an e-form within FormStream to replace the 8-page document that was completed for every patient consultation. The previous form was onerous as it required the clinician to fill out the whole form each time, even though much of the information did not change between visits.
The new e-form significantly reduces the time involved by simplifying the form and avoiding repetition. Each patient’s risk assessment can be updated by any user at any point with the previously entered data being retained in the new version of the form.
NHS Highland – National Early Warning Score
The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) is a process where clinicians take a patient’s vital signs – heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure etc. – and use a formula to calculate a single score that signifies the patient’s health. The score is also used to define how often the measurements should be retaken to monitor the patient’s improvement or deterioration.
The paper-based process had proved unsatisfactory. It involved the clinician updating an unwieldy A3-sized form that could not capture the same level of detail as an electronic form. Scores were calculated manually and were consequently prone to error.
Voice Technologies is replacing this process using FormStream. Clinicians will have the convenience of entering the patient’s vital signs into an e-form on a tablet device or PC. The inaccuracy and ambiguity associated with the paper-based process are being removed and data entry made faster. Patient scores are calculated automatically and monitoring guidance displayed on-screen. Information will be stored centrally so that it can be accessed and used to monitor patients’ health on any given ward or site.