Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

Backfile Scanning Takes a Step Forward

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 @ 02:23 PM
Backfile Scanning is becoming increasingly important for companies who begin Document Imaging projects. Most of the time, these projects start innocently enough, with a company looking to take advantage of the many benefits that electronic document management has to offer - reduced costs, improved efficiency, increased compliance, etc. Soon after though, the glamorous vision of the paperless office is quickly replaced by a harsh reality - someone has to do all the work!
Document ScanningWhether you're scanning medical charts, converting loan files, or processing applications, Document Imaging is never as simple as just putting some pages through a scanner. This is especially true when dealing with a backfile scanning project. In order to start the process, someone needs to go through the files and remove all of the staples, repair dog-eared corners, tape small pages, and partake in other fun paper-processing tasks. In addition, the files must be sorted correctly to ensure that the structure of the files will be meaningful and useful when the files make their way to the document imaging system. This process involves inserting barcoded separator pages or stacking the pages in a specific way to allow the system to recognize one document from another. Quite often people don't realize that this manual document preparation work is required before you've even put the first page through the scanner.

After the preparation is done, the files must then go through the scanner and be captured as images. This too seems easy enough, except that most document scanners are not designed to handle thousands or tens of thousands of pages in a day. High Volume scanning requires specialized equipment that can sometimes cost $20,000 or more.
If you've made it this far into the process, you now will need to accurately Index your documents by tagging the files with appropriate metadata, or keywords, and then implement a process for Quality Control of scanned documents.
The good news is that the document imaging project isn't the problem. The problem is that Backfile Scanning is a lot of work, and most of the time is better suited to be an outsourced initiative. By outsourcing your backfile scanning, you can keep your staff focused on more productive tasks while a team of professionals handles your scanning needs. By using Outsourced Scanning Services to handle your backfile, all that you're responsible for is a fixed price per image. The service provider will be responsible for handling the document preparation, scanning, indexing and quality control and would provide you with images via CD, DVD or FTP.

To find out more about our backfile scanning services, check out our Document Scanning Services section and contact us to see how we can help with your specific requirements.

Tags: Document Scanning, Document Imaging, Medical Record Scanning

Medical Record Scanning gets New Meaning

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 @ 06:39 AM

The team at recently highlighted how a Bronx Healthcare clinic is using a new type of Optical Recognition to retrieve Medical Records, and it’s not quite what you’d think of when you bring up Medical Record Scanning . The clinic – Urban Health Plan – is using Scans of a Patient’s Iris (the unique part of the eye) to accurately locate and match patient records. The article cites many examples of why this technology is so useful, particularly in a clinic that boasts 103 Patients with the name Jose Rodriguez!

As this new, innovative technology begins to replace the old check-in process at this particular clinic, there must also be consideration given to another type of Medical Record Scanning – the physical patient chart. With a flurry of new technology being created, marketed, and sold to Medical Practices across the country, document scanning for the paper-based chart is becoming that much more important. While the CNN article doesn’t “Sight” (Sic) whether or not Urban Health Plans is retrieving a physical paper-based chart or using an Electronic Medical Record System, There is certainly another level of efficiency that can be achieved by having their Iris-Based Scan Technology retrieve an electronic copy of the Patient Chart directly to the point of care.

While Shoreline's primary focus is on helping practices convert their Paper-Based Charts to Digital Images through Medical Record Scanning, I must applaud Urban Health Plans for their innovative and effective use of emerging technology. As a technologist (and a Healthcare Consumer) I believe that anything that can help reduce errors, eliminate costs, and improve the quality of care is a step in the right direction. Kudos!

For More Information, Check Out:

Urban Health Plan - "At Bronx Clinic, The eyes are windows to Medical Records"

Shoreline Records Management - Medical Record Scanning 

Tags: Medical Record Scanning, EMR, Healthcare

Medical Record Scanning Project Preparation Guide

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 @ 08:59 AM

In order to efficiently manage a Medical Record Scanning Project, it’s helpful to understand what is involved in the process.  A clear step by step overview will help clarify expectations and will save you lots of time and frustration later on.

Scanning medical records is not overly complicated, and with some careful planning, you can ensure that your practice runs more smoothly and efficiently than ever before. Also, If you're inclined to outsource, selecting a company that works with you as a partner can result in greater satisfaction with the process and the end result.

The following are the steps to the medical document scanning process.

1.  Analyze - First, identify what documents are to be scanned.  Medical Files can be boxed and labeled so they are able to be transported.  It’s important to have a system to be sure you know what’s in the boxes, just in case there is a need for one of the documents during this process.   A qualified vendor should work side by side with you when scanning medical records to be sure that you have access to your charts. Be sure to confirm this during your vendor selection process.

2.  Inventory - Prior to beginning a Medical Record Scanning Project, an inventory should be created highlighting all of the charts you want to convert. This can be something that your staff does, or your vendor offers.   Don't overlook this step - You will want to be absolutely sure that you've captured all of your Charts, and this is the best way to give you confidence in the process.   

3.  Preparation - Imagine the havoc that staples and ripped or torn documents can do to a copier... well, they don’t work well with scanners either.  Before scanning medical documents, any torn pages must be repaired, sorted, and staples, clips, fasteners, etc. must be removed.  This is time consuming, and most companies who take on scanning medical documents instead of outsourcing become frustrated at this point. Remember, Clean, clear, useful document scans are entirely dependent upon this step.

4.  Scanning. Each medical document is scanned.  During this phase the identification of the documents is entered. Again, somewhat labor intensive, this phase requires attention to detail that many companies just don’t put in.  If you are scanning medical records yourself, and hire temporary workers, you may wind up with less than professional results.  Especially for scanning medical records and documents, this is important.   (Shoreline’s team are expert at ensuring efficient and competent production at our service center.)

Medical Document Scanning


5.  Quality Control. The last thing that you want is to pull up a patient’s record at a critical moment and the information is indecipherable.  A good quality control to evaluate every image will assure this doesn’t happen. Missing documents, missing images are unacceptable. (At Shoreline, every image is reviewed to be sure it can be read. We also make sure we didn’t miss any documents or images during the scanning process.)

6.  Index. Indexing the documents is another critical element of scanning medical documents. In order to be found easily, the index utilizes an identifier such as the patient’s dob, patient ID, social, or patient number.   As records are scanned, charts are captured and tagged in a manner consistent with the EMR or EHR program.

7.  Import Data.  The scanned medical records that have been indexed are entered into the electronic records system.  The vendor should work with your records management vendor to assure that the documents are successfully accessed upon demand. Imaged information is integrated into the EMR or EHR system. 

8.  Disposition or Inventory.  From time to time, records must be destroyed or re-called to be accessed physically.  A document solution provider should be capable of providing a secure system for both. Whether the document is to be stored in a climate controlled environment within a warehouse, or to be destroyed, the security of the information is of paramount importance, particularly with HIPAA requirements of medical records.  (At Shoreline, Certified Document Destruction is offered for sensitive information.) 

Tags: Document Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, EMR

Medical Records Scanning Services help Reduce Risk

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 @ 11:00 AM

Hurricane force winds and gale rains toppled trees and created havoc in the New York Metropolitan area this weekend. Thousands were without power, and the storms caused  damage to countless homes and businesses. So What does this have to do with medical record scanning?

Scanning medical documentsand other important records is a safe way to

Medical Record Scanning

 ensure that your files are safe in the event of a natural disaster.  Case in point, most group practices try to make the most of the space that they use for offices, patient rooms, waiting areas. When it comes to documents and storing them, often a less desirable space is where the documents are stored. Many doctor’s offices will use a basement or garage area for storage where thousands of files are kept.

During the recent downpours in the NY Metro area, there were downed trees, localized flooding and damage to buildings.  High winds and Nor’easter conditions are not that frequent, but they do happen, just like Tornados on the Plains or Hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. From a Document Management perspective, The dilemma is that when the rainfall is coupled with the soggy, saturated ground conditions, there is nowhere for the water to go and consequently, many previously dry basement storage areas are suddenly prone to wet conditions or flooding.

Wet files are then a place where mold and other toxic and bio-hazards can grow.  In the damp environment, even a relatively dry area can be a breeding ground. Retrieving the files is unpleasant, and may also result in exposure to the mold.  Not the healthiest of conditions.

By scanning medical records, or by storing them offsite, this recipe for unpleasantness can be easily avoided.  In addition, a hybrid solution where scanned medical document and offsite document storage solution enables the practice to maintain medical records offsite, as well as access key information on demand.  Now is the time to take action and protect your valuable records. And keep in mind that whatever option you choose, Scanning medical records will lead to improved efficiency and reduced errors and also help your practice transition towards the future of the Paperless Medical Office

Tags: Document Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, Healthcare

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

The 3 Best Reasons to Outsource Paper Scanning

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 @ 03:14 PM

Why Outsource Paper Scanning? Three Reasons - Cost, Speed, and Accuracy.


  1. Cost - Outsourcing your document imaging requirements to a professional document scanning company allows you to take advantage of today's leading edge technology without absorbing the ongoing costs associated with maintaining the system. There are no hardware or software upgrades, specialized personnel or annual maintenance charges to support. 
  2. Speed - Most commercially available paper scanning equipment is in the 25 to 50 Page Per Minute Range. When you outsource your paper scanning, the service provider is likely to make use of scanners that capture pages at speeds in excess of 100 pages per minute. In addition, the document preparation process, which is where most of the time is spent, can be more easily achieved by a staff of dedicated file technicians who focus on accurately sorting and preparing file for scanning.
  3. Accuracy - Perhaps the most important reason to outsource paper scanning projects is to make sure that they're done correctly. When paper scanning is assigned as a secondary responsibility for someone who already has other things to do, they're less likely to pay as close attention to it as the probably should. When you outsource paper scanning, you can have the piece of mind of knowing that the team is dedicated to processing files, not answering phones or other daily responsibilities. This helps to make sure that the job gets done right.


Outsourcing paper scanning allows companies to redirect their core resources toward the activities of greater value while still realizing the benefits of document scanning.

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

Medical Document Scanning will Turn You Green

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 @ 07:16 AM

Medical document scanning is an efficient method to manage your medical records,  as well as a benefit to the environment as well as the economy.   By scanning medical records,  the amount of paper and trees that could be saved is astounding.  When you consider that the average patient medical file contains about 75 Pages, and multiply it by the total number of patients in the United States, which is upwards of  307 Million, there are more than 23 Billion Pages of Medical Information scattered across today’s hospitals, clinics, and medical practices. This number multiplies exponentially when you start to consider that most people have separate charts at their Dentist, Podiatrist, and other specialists that they may visit.

When it comes to the mountains of paper that is used every year to print medical records and the cost of space to store these records, as well as the liability of unauthorized access to medical information a medical document scanning solution becomes very attractive. By Scanning Medical Records, not only is there a positive impact on the environment, but there are even more significant economic benefits that come along with the Nationwide push towards Electronic Medical Records.


Recently,  grants that have been established to encourage states, doctors and hospitals to enter the age of computerized record keeping. 

Medical transactions require a minimum of one sheet of paper per medical record claim submission, another sheet for claim payment and another sheet for claim remittance.  Usually the file contains much more than the minimum, including updated insurance information and insurance authorization, signed copies of HIPAA consent,   studies or test results related to the patient, as well as the doctor’s notes and observations. 

According to the U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index, paper medical records are “costly, inefficient and prone to errors.”   An independent actuarial study performed by Milliman Inc. considered six key transactions:

•   Claims Submission

•   Eligibility Verification

•   Referral Certification

•   Preauthorization for Care

•   Claim Status

•   Payment posting

According to their analysis scanning medical records and medical document scanning could reduce annual insurance administration costs by more than $42,000 per physician.  And so, While it may not literally turn YOU green, starting the process of scanning medical records in your practice , clinic, or hospital can help improve not only the environment, but also the efficiency and economics of the practice.

Tags: Records Management, Document Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, Healthcare