Delivering Paper Medical Charts to the Digital Age
The Electronic Transformation
A lot is made about the advent of the Electronic Medical Record and with good reason. The technology that allows medical practitioners to access real-time information and patient history with the click of a mouse has already proven itself and undoubtedly helped to save lives. Now, with the federal government providing incentives that will allow more and more medical practices to take advantage of these technologies, the number of practices and facilities using these systems (EMR, EHR, etc.) is multiplying rapidly.
There's an important component of these systems that is being overlooked, however, and that's the legacy Patient information that has historically been stored in paper charts. As the number of implementations of EMR Systems skyrockets, Medical Practices across the country are looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of paper-based charts and asking themselves the same question - "What do I do with all of this?"
The reality of the situation is that it takes an inordinate amount of time to sit down in front of a screen and perform manual data entry from paper-based charts and that scanning is a more efficient way to deliver content to these systems. Most, if not all, of the leading EHR and EMR platforms, have some really great utilities to allow practices to retrieve and view images, and by scanning legacy patient history into these systems, Practices, Hospitals, and Clinics can start to truly take advantage of all of the benefits these systems have to offer.
But where do you start? For most practices, the logical course of action is to procure a scanner. There are many great models to choose from, and the choices may seem dizzying to some. Do I need a scanner with an ADF? Does it need to be Duplex? Should it have the good old Bilinear-Interpolation Feature? It sometimes can seem like it's easier to build a lunar module than to scan Patient Charts into your shiny new EMR or EHR System. And then, once you've gone ahead and purchased the scanner, you're faced with the reality that someone will need to pull all of the staples, sort the pages, and then sit in front of a computer and scan all of these charts and tag them with patient data.
If this process seems like more work than you're willing to take on, take comfort in knowing that there is another option to fill your EMR or EHR System with all of your paper charts. There are professional companies that specialize in outsourced scanning of medical charts, and many of these companies will make this process a breeze. For a low, per-page price, you can send your patient charts out to a Document Conversion service center that will perform all of the document preparation, scanning, and indexing, and will also help to upload all of your scanned data into your EMR or EHR System.
When choosing to outsource the process to a document conversion service provider, and especially with Medical Records such as Patient Charts, it's critical to work with a company that has experience, however. You should ask to speak with references of other practices that the company has worked with, and also obtain a HIPAA Business Associates agreement to have peace of mind that your information is being kept confidential. Once you've found the right partner though, you should be up and running in a few short weeks with all of your patient history and paper chart information loaded into the Electronic Medical Record System, available when and where you need it.
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