Benefits of Paperless Auditing
Audits of programs, including case management documentation, are a normal occurrence in the world of public health today. In government, audits are conducted at all levels: local, state, and federal. Public health programs such as Maternal Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH), Tuberculosis (TB), California Children’s Services (CCS), Adolescent Family Life Program (AFLP) and more are audited not only for financial content, but for program compliance which includes a review of case manager notes, program outcomes, and client data. ECMs should make it easy for state and federal auditors to review documentation, while allowing them access only to the requested information. An ECM is particularly beneficial in an audit for the following reasons:
This is crucial when facing an outside audit. Gathering paper documents can be time consuming and frustrating, particularly when audits occur for documentation from several years in the past. An electronic system helps agencies store and organize documents that makes them easy to locate in the event of an audit. This can also be useful for internal audits or peer review audits to help an organization assess and improve its own performance and compliance.
An audit trail provides for a chronological record, or evidence, of a particular set of historical events. The audit trail reflects the reliability of the program’s compliance and integrity in an organization. It can be used to validate and monitor activity. An ECM provides the vehicle to track this essential information through date and time stamps and the chronological steps that were taken to provide a service.
Ensuring that public health case manager notes are consistently formatted and controlled is not easy. Nurses and other case managers all have their own way of filing and documenting. Getting them to use the latest templates, or ensuring that new revisions are created from the last approved version in a paper file, isn’t easy. An ECM provides for consistency in defining needs, goals, outcomes, and resources. It essentially provides a template from which case managers can build their own individualized case file.
Easy and Widespread Access
Paper-based records can be a record and archive nightmare. They limit access to a specific time and place: only one person can use a record at one time and only in one physical location. Making copies can be expensive and time-consuming. Duplication may also cause version control problems and confusion about which document is the official record. Electronic records are easily shared and provide widespread access to all authorized users. Users can access these records at the same time, even if they work in different locations. ECMs also make it possible for public health agencies to share their case records with auditors anywhere at any time. Considering scarce resources in government and the distances between agencies and their auditors, providing mobile or remote access to information to be audited can save time, money, and frustration for the agency being audited and the auditor.
A well-designed ECM can allow an organization to regulate what information an auditor may access. It is important to ensure only those records that are requested by the auditor can be accessed. The information should be available at a read-only level so that vital information cannot be accidentally changed. ECMs encourage more accountability and promote compliance across the organization. As a result, public accountability and transparency are enhanced.
In short, the paperless audit capabilities of an ECM eliminate travel costs, while expediting the process for producing requested documents to the auditors.