Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

Tom Doyle

Recent Posts

Digitizing Medical Records? Here are some things to consider

Posted by Tom Doyle on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 @ 05:28 PM

President Obama has vowed the U.S. will digitize all medical records by 2014, and an economic stimulus package passed by Congress last year allocates $20 billion toward the process. So Hospitals, group medical practices and physicians who for the most part have shied away from transitioning to a full-fledged Electronic Medical Record (EMR), are now compelled to take action. While the stimulus dollars will help defray the cost of implementing the infrastructure to migrate to EMR, the question of how or whether or not to digitize all or a portion of the Medical Record archive needs careful consideration.

Digitizing the archive requires a fairly labor intensive process; preparing the charts by removing paper clips, staples, etc., scanning, assigning index values to the scanned images and importing the data to the EMR. The value of having patient historical information as part of the new EMR system is clear, but what if the charts are rarely if ever accessed? What if, as in the instance of specialty practices such as Cardiology, it's not known when or if a patient will ever need to be seen again? Retention requirements mandate that the chart be maintained for as long as 10 years from the last visit.

One solution that should be considered is storing the older, less frequently retrieved charts offsite, at a secure, climate controlled location, with a Certified Document Management partner like Shoreline Records Management. Our Medical Record Storage Services allow healthcare organizations the flexibility to store charts in an efficient, cost effective manner, yet have them digitized on demand. Once digitized, the electronic chart is transmitted securely and imported directly into the organizations EMR system. Requests are fulfilled 24 hours, 7 days a week, often in as little as two hours.

In the scenario of frequently retrieved charts such as Pediatrics, digitizing the entire archive is more likely. Our Medical Record scanning service center is equipped with several of the latest high speed document scanners capable of capturing images at a rate of over 120 pages per minute. Projects that would take months or even years if done in house with current staff can be done quickly and affordably, allowing the organization to access historical Patient information within the new EMR system.

Tags: Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, Healthcare

Unlocking the Paper Shackles from your Information

Posted by Tom Doyle on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 @ 04:04 PM
  • How many times have you needed to access an important file or reproduce a form to support a customer inquiry?
  • Have you ever gone to the file cabinet or Archive to access a transaction, only to find the document is missing?
  • How about producing a proof of delivery ticket, so you can collect an open receivable?

If you're like most business organizations, the answers to these and many other document management questions are: Everyday, Yes, and Often.

So why then are you still filing paper documents?

Accessing information critical to the success of any business should be as easy as doing a google search.  It is, if you scan. Imagine the efficiency gained, not to mention the improvement in customer service, if you could respond to customer inquiries while actually on the phone with the customer. Document Scanning provides more value than just ease of use though. Imaging allows for collaboration, can provide compliance with industry regulations, increases the level of document security and can help to easily manage the life cycle of all business information.

Using scanning technology to create workflows driven by the presence of rules in a business process reduces the reliance on a human element from getting things done efficiently. A manager or director, whose approval is required for a process to move forward, can approve the necessary documents electronically instead of having to have the paper in front of her. If that person is out sick or on vacation, the documents can be routed to other managers to move the process along efficiently.

In many instances companies who have been successful changing the culture from paper to electronic images, have enlisted the help of an expert. Outsourced scanning services companies, also known as Service bureaus, have the experience and infrastructure, through the use of high speed scanning equipment and specialized software, to complete jobs quickly and return image files to a secure system where end users who have the proper security rights can access the information.

Today's business environment demands that organizations react quickly and efficiently to support their customer base. Capturing, sharing, storing and securing business critical information electronically, while reducing the reliance on one dimensional paper documents, enhances this requirement.

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging

Document Scanning - Where to begin??

Posted by Tom Doyle on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 @ 03:21 PM
It's easy to identify most of the leading reasons why it's become best practice for Companies in all industries to scan their business critical paper documents; Access, collaboration, Workflow, Security, Space Savings.  Don't forget regulatory compliance, Audit control and privacy concerns for good measure. Capturing, storing and retrieving any document at any time from any location allows businesses to reduce costs associated with records management while increasing process efficiency and improving customer service.

Now that you've been convinced, the next question is how? One solution that should be considered is partnering with an experienced Document Management company that offers outsourced scanning services. Many companies have made the mistake of investing in imaging hardware, software and the necessary personnel to manage high volume scanning environments, only to struggle with a process that is not at the core of what the business does. Converting paper documents to electronic images is not overly difficult, but neither is changing your own oil. Thank goodness for Jiffy Lube!

Outsourced scanning services companies can manage the process better than most in-house solutions because it is their core business. Your company leverages the economies of scale found in a service operation. Attention to detail, especially at the document preparation table is critical to the success of any scanning project. If the documents are not separated correctly, if all staples, paper clips and post it notes are not removed, the process will slow down and ultimately the results the end user sees will be uneven, causing them to lose confidence in the solution.   

Experienced Document Scanning Organizations are regularly upgrading and maintaining their equipment to take advantage of the latest technology. Advanced document recognition allows images to be read and desired keywords or index criteria automatically extracted, eliminating the need for manual data entry while keeping the cost of the service down.

Outsourcing your scanning projects allows you to concentrate on your core business functions while taking advantage of all the benefits of fast, reliable, secure document access.

Tags: Document Scanning, Document Imaging, Medical Record Scanning

Not Ready for an Enterprise Electronic Medical Record? Investigate a DMI Solution

Posted by Tom Doyle on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 @ 09:36 AM

It's happening...slowly! Although the Federal Government has enacted legislation providing physicians with incentives to implement EMR technology and penalties for those who do not by 2015, today only six percent of U.S. physicians use a fully functioning system. Why?

For one, Enterprise Electronic Medical Records systems require physicians and their staff to change the way they accumulate, track, store and retrieve patient medical information. These systems require physicians and staff to leverage laptops, notepads, PC's and other electronic devices to capture and update all patient related data. In short, it changes the way the health care professional delivers medical care, and with all change comes resistance.

DMI, Document management and imaging is a tool that helps bridge a totally paper based solution to a full EMR. Through the use of scanning technology, healthcare organizations can change very little regarding how care is provided, while taking advantage of organizing, securing, protecting and sharing vital patient data.

Paper documents associated with the patient chart are scanned and indexed with metadata specific to that patient, for instance, patient id. #, social security number, last name, first name and date of birth. The electronic chart can be housed on an internal server or hosted through a secure Web site. Physicians and staff that have the proper security can access the data from any computer or device, thus eliminating the need to have the paper chart. Organizations that have multiple locations can share the information and there is no longer a need to maintain file cabinets full of paper charts or even an offsite location specific to storing patient charts.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of starting the shift to EMR with a DMI solution lies in overcoming the resistance of Physicians and staff. While paper documents and forms are still used in the delivery of care, the history and management of the ongoing data is handled electronically, resulting in a more cost effective, efficient process, helping to vastly improve the level of patient care.

Tags: Document Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, EMR, Healthcare

How are you protecting your Business Records?

Posted by Tom Doyle on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 @ 02:59 PM

It's 2010!!How important is your iphone, PDA, Laptop and cell phone to your ability to get your daily business done?  With each instant message, email, processed order and invoice, the importance of managing, archiving, storing and securing business information grows. The theory of the paperless office, while relatively attainable, is not practical or realistic. You receive a contract via email. It requires safekeeping and security. What do you and the six other people cc'd on the email do? Print it! Fast forward a year or five or ten. How many types of documents, paper or electronic have you created? Well, you don't have to be a public company or a 100 attorney law firm to have a real problem.  What to do and how to manage the lifecycle of your business information.

Today, depending on the industry you are in and who governs that industry, you are responsible, in fact liable and at risk if you don't protect that information or be able to produce it at a moment's notice. And, according to a recent survey by Cohasset Associates in conjunction with ARMA - The Association of Records Management Advisors, "while many organizations are moving in the right direction, research clearly indicates that for an alarming number, the efficient and systematic control over business records is still not getting done."

Why? Because it's an afterthought. Like insurance in many instances, people should have it and they know it, but they wait until it's too late or have a catastrophic event to realize it.

It doesn't have to and shouldn't come to that. Instead of boxing up your documents and putting them in a garage or a self-storage shed, or worse, your hallways, conference rooms and closets, exposed to all kinds of danger, both environmental and human, consider this - secure, climate controlled, off-site Record Storage.  For as little as .25 cents per box per month, your mind can rest easy knowing that your corporate business history is secure and retrievable at a moment's notice.

 In addition, many service providers offer additional value added services, such as scan on demand, whereby requests for documents are made by secure web portal, requested files are retrieved, scanned and securely sent to the requestor for a fraction of the cost of moving the file manually. Law firms, Health Care providers, Insurance companies, virtually any industry is a prime candidate for this undervalued, necessary function.

As a certified Record Storage partner who combines off-site document storage with Enterprise Document Management and Outsourced Scanning services, Shoreline Records Management also provides Records Management consulting services to create policies and procedures that manage the creation, lifecycle and destruction of your corporate information.

Today, every industry is regulated, and as a result of that regulation, audit control and compliance surrounding business transactions warrant the expertise of a professional Records Management company. Don't continue to waste time and money while exposing a serious risk to your business.   

Tags: File Storage, Records Management, Healthcare