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Digital Release of Information: It’s Easier Than You Think

Publish Date
Read Time
March 14, 2022

When was the last time you entered your bank to get a monthly statement? In today’s digital world, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and a variety of other entities conduct most business electronically. Even many brick-and-mortar stores provide a digital receipt. Most consumers love this. They don’t need to worry about misplacing or retrieving paper documents because it’s all just one click away on their mobile device. Why should release of information (ROI) be any different? It isn’t, and in the next couple of years (or sooner), it won’t be.

The question is, will your organization be ready?

While change can be daunting, the good news is that shifting to digital ROI isn’t the big, scary endeavor it might have been in the past. Now, organizations can access cost-effective technology that makes it easy and secure to release protected health information digitally—all while making sure the right information reaches the right requester at the right time.

Meeting Patients’ Demands

If there’s anything that banking and other industries have taught us, it’s this: In the not-too-distant future, digital ROI won’t be a choice. It will be ‘the default’ option simply because that’s what an overwhelming majority of requesters—particularly patients—will want. Interestingly, two-thirds of patients are likely to switch to a new health system if their expectations are not met, according to a recent Accenture survey. If organizations want to attract, retain, and continually engage patients, digital ROI is one way to do it.

Digital ROI can also be one of many ways organizations can move the needle on patient experience and subsequently boost their bottom line. Research has shown that hospitals with higher patient experience ratings perform better financially. Accenture found that organizations that improve the patient experience could potentially increase their revenue by 5%-10% pre-COVID levels within 12 months.

Being able to request and retrieve information electronically likely plays an important role in patient outcomes as well. For example, when patients can access their information more easily, they may be more likely to follow through with referrals to specialists, take medications as prescribed, and more.

Digital ROI is also critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations have already prohibited in-person requests, choosing instead to direct patients to the patient portal. ROI specialists working remotely can oversee, validate, and fulfill these requests. These organizations may opt to continue this process post-COVID simply because it frees up physical space within the organization for other revenue-generating opportunities.

The need for digital ROI may be intensified by a federal push for interoperability and patient access. As information blocking becomes applicable, providers will continue to innovate in increasing access to health data and patients may welcome and adopt these innovations. It’s a natural evolution for which organizations must be prepared.

Getting Started with Digital ROI

Not sure where to start when it comes to transforming your ROI processes?

The first step may be to simply overcome myths within the organization that could prevent moving forward with more technology-enabled ROI processes. Consider the following three myths and how ROI processes have advanced to overcome them.

Myth #1: Digital ROI requires a big ‘IT lift.’

Not true. Application program interfaces (API), the technology that makes it seamless to push information from one system to another, are commonly offered by reputable ROI vendors. Is your vendor one of them? With a few hours of dedicated IT time, organizations can have a significant positive impact on patient and requester satisfaction by releasing information digitally from multiple EHRs with minimal effort.

Myth #2: Protected health information isn’t secure with digital ROI.

Not true. Today’s sophisticated technology often requires multiple forms of authentication, including a photo ID, a HIPAA-compliant electronic signature, and confirmation of other personal details to authenticate their identity. To access the records, recipients receive a PIN that’s sent in a separate email, ensuring security on the front and backends. In fact, digital ROI can secure protected health information more than paper-based processes.

Myth #3: Organizations compromise quality with digital ROI.

Not true. It all goes back to that long-standing fear that organizations will release too much information, not enough information, or the wrong information when they go digital—that they can’t rely on natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to maintain quality and fulfill requests accurately.

Using advanced NLP and AI simply aids the human ROI specialist— it does not replace the role entirely. This is exactly what happened with computer-assisted coding (CAC). CAC enhanced coding and enabled skilled coders to be even more effective. In fact, using NLP and AI enables ROI specialists to quickly validate straightforward requests so they can spend more time focusing on complex requests that require deep patient interaction, phone calls to the requester or other steps to validate. These technologies elevate these individuals so they can add more value in the ROI process.


All organizations should be thinking about digital ROI regardless of whether their process is in-house, outsourced, or a combination of the two. If the process is outsourced, what is your vendor doing to support digital transformation while also maintaining quality? Reputable vendors can deploy technology to maximize efficiency and speed in processing requests in less time with the increased quality, so patients and other requesters receive the records more quickly.

The principles of ROI (i.e., getting the right information to the right person at the right time) don’t change. Digital ROI simply makes it easier for organizations to achieve these objectives.

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