For the past 10 years, HIMSS Analytics has been tracking the adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and rating organizations according to stages ranging from 0 to 7, with 7 being an environment in which paper records are no longer used. At the end of 2015, only 4.2% of the nearly 5,500 hospitals tracked had reached the highest stage.
Printing hasn’t declined as quickly or substantially as expected, partly because electronic media isn’t always a perfect alternative to paper documents. Many hospitals find that, even with a robust EMR system in place, huge volumes of information end up on paper either out of necessity, routine, or for the sake of convenience.
Rather than expect EMRs to automatically reduce printing costs, hospitals must adopt a proactive approach and embrace print management.
Fixing a complex problem
To reduce printing costs, start by focusing on the core metrics that reveal the most about your organization’s printing culture. Print management software makes it easy for decision makers and IT directors to track these key metrics and make informed choices that benefit the organization. For example:
- Printing volume: Who is printing, how much is it costing, and how much of this print volume can be converted to electronic?
- Color print: Who prints the most in color, and do these documents require color? Color jobs cost three to five times more than black and white, and sometimes much more.
- Print from locally attached devices: Ongoing costs for desktop printing are high. In addition, the proliferation of these devices results in low asset utilization of shared network printers and higher costs per page. With properly secured network devices, confidential printing can be done much more economically than with desktop devices.
- Email printing: Who is printing the most email? This type of printing is rarely essential for business and easy to share electronically when necessary.
- Networked technology: What percent of the printer fleet is networked? Many organizations still aren’t leveraging their network infrastructure to enable the use of multi-function devices (MFDs). Instead of using them for print, copy, fax and scan services, they’re often used as standalone copiers.
- Device utilization: How are the printers in your organization used? Which ones handle the most volume, and which ones are underutilized? We have seen healthcare organizations with 25% more devices than necessary, often paying lease and service costs for technology they don’t need.
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Tracking these metrics will reveal the overall state of your print environment and help you determine areas of waste, redundancy, inefficiency and opportunity.