Cairns Hospital reduces costs and boosts productivity with DocuSign

  • $185K

    Saved per year by moving away from paper and printing
  • $60K

    In lost staff productivity recouped per year
  • 500%

    Increase in staff efficiency

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) are committed to providing excellence in health care, wellbeing, research and education in Far North Queensland (FNQ). 

The service is the only major referral hospital in FNQ, with 7,000 staff servicing an area of 142,900 kilometres—including extremely remote communities like Cape York and the Torres Strait. 

Distance is a challenge at the best of times—but when the pandemic hit in 2020, hospital administrators needed to rethink internal systems and processes to overcome the challenges of lockdowns, a distributed workforce, and paper-based document sharing.

The CHHHS accounting team felt the impact of these challenges significantly. Responsible for managing a $1.2b business and servicing every area of the health service, the finance department manages hundreds of financial documents each month—with the majority requiring signing. 

Steve Dunstan, Team Leader, Management Accounting at CHHHS, automated and digitised the finance department to create seamless, secure and efficient workflows. 

Paper-driven processes were impacting productivity

Prior to DocuSign, CHHHS was a manual, paper-based organisation— printing, signing, scanning and emailing all documentation. 

When it comes to the accounting team, they process journals for the entire health service, which sits at over 250 journals a month. In finance terms, a journal is a detailed account that records all the financial transactions of a business. As part of the end-of-month process, each journal required the team to print, scan and physically attach all the supporting documents, as well as manage three layers of approvals. 

Steve put it plainly: “There was just so much paperwork.”

If an error was spotted during the information-gathering or approval process, the journal needed to be sent back to the start of the process and begin again from scratch. 

“If we declined a document for whatever reason, we’d add a sticky note to the file and send it back for updating. There was a chance the note could drop off or get lost—so this wasn’t an ideal solution for us.”

“Not to mention the wasted manpower. We’re talking senior hospital staff members—who are highly skilled and well-paid—spending hours at the photocopier and scanner.” 

Streamlining operations and empowering efficiency

When the pandemic hit, Steve saw an opportunity to rethink the way his department worked—bringing digitisation and automation front and centre for the finance team within CHHHS. “It was DocuSign or bust,” Steve said.

“I made a compelling case to the CFO and DocuSign was signed off immediately. The reputation DocuSign has in the market was a big plus, as well as how simply the solution could be implemented and rolled-out. 

Despite Steve’s team having to stick to pre-approved, standardised forms, the implementation was seamless. Through DocuSign eSignature, Steve was able to work with the DocuSign team to create digital versions of templates that met the requirements and auditability of the Department of Health and external auditors.

“It was intuitive, seamless, and created an impact immediately. Our team is quite eclectic, made up of all ages and backgrounds, but they all picked it up quickly and basically ran with it.”

Once the initial implementation was complete, staff began to quickly realise the benefits of DocuSign with relative ease.

“The adoption we’ve seen across the business has been swift and widespread. In just 12 months, the number of DocuSign users within the business grew from just 16 to 180.” 

Revolutionising ways of working

There’s been a significant boost in productivity since implementing DocuSign. With staff no longer spending hours standing by scanners and printers, the team estimates savings to be around $60,000 yearly. 

Moreover, the time it takes to complete a journal has been drastically improved. What would usually take 15 minutes to complete now takes just three minutes—a 500% boost in staff efficiency.

“As an organisation who is pressed for time to reconcile everything at end-of-month in three days, having a workflow that is completely digital and automated has allowed us to get everything done without stress, and often, in shorter time frames.”

When it comes to hard costs, the finance team alone has reduced their printing, scanning, paper and toner costs to zero—a massive $185,000 saving each year. 

“DocuSign is a no-brainer in terms of the return on investment you get. The savings of staff time, productivity, waste, as well as the sustainability element, make partnering with DocuSign a smart choice for any business.”

Three years on, the CHHHS Finance department is 100% paperless— and more teams around the organisation are beginning to follow suit. 

“We’re seeing doctors using DocuSign to sign off referral notes, HR are using it to sign employment agreements—there are really so many uses for DocuSign in a healthcare setting. The positive feedback we’ve received has really solidified DocuSign as our electronic solution and it’s exciting to see our transition to a truly digital organisation.”