How One Chicago-Area Health System Eliminated Paper Signatures

February 24, 2021
Stephan Herron, CEO and President, Scriptel Corporation

There might not be a more wasteful practice than printing a form — especially a multi-page one — for the sole purpose of getting a signature. This is especially true of healthcare organizations that are using an electronic health record (EHR) to reduce paper and ensure a complete, clinician-accessible patient record.

A recent report by The Center for American Progress estimates that 14% of all U.S. healthcare expenditures are administrative, while the McKinsey Global Institute says more than $90 billion is spent on inefficient and redundant administrative practices in healthcare per year.

Considerations During EHR Implementation

For many healthcare executives, peripherals aren’t always top of mind. However, they are a major consideration during an EHR implementation. That was the case at University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System (UI Health), where more than 10 peripherals needed to change throughout numerous facilities, including signature pads.

UI Health, which includes a 462-bed tertiary-care hospital serving more than 135,000 patients per year, 21 outpatient clinics, 14 federally qualified health centers, and seven University of Illinois at Chicago health science colleges, began implementing Epic’s EHR in 2019.

Knowing that just about every signature pad in the health system would need to change as part of the Epic implementation, Andrew Mosio, director of technology and service delivery at the Chicago-area health system, began evaluating options. Ultimately, he decided on one that received positive IT and user feedback.

Rigorous Testing

Hospital environments are extraordinarily tough on small peripherals like signature pads. So, one of the many tests Mosio and his team performed on the vendor’s units was throwing them on the ground. After all, signature pads need to be able to take a lot of abuse in the clinical setting.

The units under consideration came through the tests with flying colors — proving extremely durable and 100% plug and play. Mosio, who has been with UI Health’s IT department for almost nine years, said it was the peripheral they spent the least amount of time on and the only one that caused no problems during and after the Epic go-live.

Successful Deployment

Today, there are just under 1,500 signature pads deployed across the UI Health system. In addition to use at patient check-in, they’re in all ambulatory clinical settings and hospital departments.

The goal of Mosio’s team was to eliminate paper signatures in favor of capitalizing on Epic’s eSignature API, given the EHR vendor’s strong commitment to electronic data capture. Anywhere signatures were needed for acknowledgement, they’ve deployed signature pads. Mosio and his team were extremely satisfied with the support they received from the e-signature company during testing and noted they received no user complaints about the units during the rollout or since.

Electronic signature pads check all the boxes when it comes to saving money and reducing paper waste, allowing hospitals, like UI Health, to purchase fewer printers and less paper and toner while saving clerical staff considerable time waiting for documents to print and filing or scanning them once signed.

Stephan Herron is Chief Executive Officer and President of Scriptel Corporation, a leading developer of eSignature and signature capture technology.