Data Security & The Problem With Paper Emergency & Medical Forms

Is your member's data secure?

The following is a guest post from our partners at ePACT Network.

In North America, families fill out more than 9 million forms for medical, emergency, photo release, and other participant information, and parents or guardians are usually asked to complete a form for each piece of required information. That adds up quickly for everyone! Many organizations relying on paper forms to collect critical information from families might be unaware of the advantages of an online submission process over paper forms. We’ve put together a few ways that a system like ePACT can help organizations better collect and manage critical information from participants: 

Data Validation

More than 30 percent of paper forms returned are illegible or incompleteProblem: Paper forms require busy parents and guardians to fill out information by hand, which can pose two problems – illegibility and incompleteness. It’s not uncommon for people to fill out forms incorrectly when they’re unfamiliar with them, and for busy families it’s quite easy to write something in the wrong place or miss small details (e.g. a digit in a phone number or an letter in an email), and hastily written information can be hard to read.

Solution: In ePACT, it’s easy to set required fields so that key information is never left out. You can use validation to ensure that phone numbers have the correct number of digits, and email addresses are in the correct format. Typed forms are also much easier to read, and with a standardized layout, you can find the information you’re looking for much quicker.

Accuracy of Information

30 percent of all families have at least one change to their emergency contact information every four months.Problem: Contact details and health information are always changing – cell phone numbers get updated, people are diagnosed with new medical conditions (or previous ones no longer apply!), and new prescriptions are added to a medication plan. However, paper forms are filled out once, often well before a program or season starts, and if something changes once a program has started, it can be difficult to get that information to the right people quickly.

Solution: ePACT makes it much easier to update information as it changes. Families don’t have to remember to track down a form to update their existing information or rely on a staff member to make the change manually – they can make the change right in their ePACT record, which means that staff can see the most up-to-date information, even if they’ve already started their program, class, or activity.

Accessibility of Information

In an emergency, it takes an average of 5 minutes to find information that is stored on paper.Problem: Families fill out multiple paper forms for all the organizations in their lives, and often they’re stored within an office filing cabinet for safekeeping. In an emergency like a flood or fire, it might not be possible to get to these forms, and the emergency itself might cause physical damage to them. If you’re managing hundreds or even thousands of paper forms, staff don’t want to worry about trying to get those out of the building as everyone else evacuates to safety. Staff also want to be sure they can access information for use in said emergency, especially if there’s a medical situation or a need for children to be picked up quickly.

Solution: ePACT allows forms to be stored electronically rather than physically on the premises, which eliminates the concern about them getting destroyed. In addition, ePACT’s Admin App gives authorized staff remote access to critical information so that it can be used in an emergency to support participants when they need it the most, whether it’s contacting their parent, emergency contact, or alternative guardian, or providing key medical information to paramedics.

Privacy & Security of Information

Only authorized staff should have access to the records of the participants they are responsible for; they shouldn’t be able to see information for all participants.Problem: Paper forms are impossible to keep secure, which puts the privacy of participants at risk, given the sensitivity of the information contained on those forms. Information is often stored in boxes, filing cabinets, or central databases that can only be accessed by an administrator, while copies are often added to binders or file folders for use offsite, which are at risk of being damaged, lost, or stolen.

Solution: ePACT centralizes the storage of critical participant information online, and it’s much easier to control authorized access to records, as well as remove access when it’s no longer needed. ePACT also makes it easy to properly dispose of information – for example, in the case of regional requirements to archive health data, ePACT will automatically delete records after the required retention period.

Family Experience

Problem: Every year, the average family fills out a minimum of 6 paper forms per child each year, with the average paper form taking 30-60 minutes to complete. That’s hours spent on filling out paper forms, so it’s no wonder that families find them frustrating. This often leads to incomplete or un-submitted forms, which is, in turn, frustrating for staff and organizations, especially if the information is required prior to a start date, or mandated by law.

Solution: ePACT provides families with a single emergency record that they use to store all their important information like medication, health concerns, doctor details, allergies and more, and share it with each organization that needs that information. Whether they’re sharing the information program-after-program or year-after-year, families make the changes to their single record and update it for each organization they’re connected with.

If you’d like to learn how ePACT can help your organization collect, manage, and store critical participant information in our secure, cloud-based system, reach out to our Sales Team or book a free demo today.

About ePACT Network

ePACT is an online emergency network, where families can securely store emergency information online, and then share it with the organizations they’re connected to, like recreation departments, YMCAs, camps, preschools, and sports associations. Organizations use ePACT to collect critical medical and contact details from their members, and then communicate with them in the event of an unexpected situation. For more information, visit www.epactnetwork.com.