By adopting managed print services, healthcare organizations can not only improve their financial well-being; they can enhance security and gain operational efficiencies that boost productivity for improved patient outcomes.

Despite heavy investments in electronic health records (EHRs), the modern healthcare system remains awash in paper.

Between administrative paperwork, test results, patient notes, receipts, etc., printed documents continue to add up considerably. Across industries, printing accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of an average organization’s annual financial outlay, IDC estimates. And within healthcare, inefficient print processes eat up clinicians’ time and money, put protected health information (PHI) at risk, and can compromise patient care.

Given the rollout of government regulations aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing waste, healthcare providers may have thought printing worries would wane. Under the Health Information Technology for Economical and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, for example, healthcare providers are mandated to adopt EHRs. About 97 percent of hospitals and almost 63 percent of physicians now use those digital systems, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

But HITECH and related requirements, such as the Affordable Care Act and the transition to ICD-10, actually increased hospitals’ printing by an average of 11 percent, according to Logicalis, an international solution provider and managed service provider (MSP) whose client base includes a diverse array of healthcare providers. Per employee, that adds up to almost $1,000 each year, the MSP said. One reason for more paper is patients’ reluctance to use online portals to access their healthcare data. As a result, many patients are provided with a printed clinical summary at the end of each visit to a healthcare facility, as well as reports on lab results, allergies, and medications.

Mobility is another trend that hasn’t quite lived up to its promise of delivering a paperless healthcare practice. Although smartphones and tablets, implemented broadly across healthcare organizations, have reduced printing to some extent, mobile workers can’t be removed from the print equation just yet. Only 21 percent of those surveyed by CompTIA in 2014 saw a “significant reduction” in printing by mobile users, so healthcare institutions must consider these employees’ needs when developing a cohesive print strategy.

To combat rising costs, healthcare executives want to address operational inefficiency; to accomplish this, they’re developing data-driven digital hospital strategies, according to IDC. Part of this strategy: Find the right solution provider partners to take over routine, mainstream IT tasks, such as print management.

Here are five best practices for solution providers looking to deliver value to healthcare organizations with managed print services (MPS).

  1. Start with a printing assessment that examines the organization’s needs, spending, consumption, and physical footprint. Calculate the total cost of printing, including consumables and maintenance support, and compare it to the cost of optimized operations through managed print services.
  2. Elevate customer awareness about the technical capabilities of printer hardware and software, demonstrating how healthcare providers can get more out of their investments by leveraging their printer fleets as document management centers. Customers also need to be made aware of the benefits of deferring maintenance and support to MPS providers.
  3. Design printing infrastructures that match workflows to maximize efficiency and security. Because healthcare records are sensitive, hospitals and clinics should avoid having paperwork sit in a printer tray. By redesigning printer-fleet layouts around workflows, solution providers can increase efficiency and improve security and regulatory compliance.
  4. Enable mobile workforces with applications that help users find the right printer from their devices by building a printer infrastructure that routes commands to the nearest, most appropriate printer.
  5. Provide reporting on printer infrastructure and utilization. Reports should include insights on maintenance, utilization, supply consumption, and costs. The objective of an MPS provider is to demonstrate value through a more reliable printer infrastructure and reduced costs.

Through ongoing evaluation of and communication about the printing infrastructure, MPS providers forge strong bonds with their healthcare clients and deliver proven returns on investment through reduced printing expenditures and improved reliability.

Eliminate the paper chase and MPS providers could open up doors for the reams of service opportunities that healthcare organizations can use to maximize their efficiencies, secure their data, and provide top-notch care to patients.