Over time, patients’ charts can become bogged down with paper. It is not uncommon to find that some of the paper found in these charts is irrelevant to the patients’ ongoing care. One of the most important decisions when transitioning to an EMR system is deciding how much of each patient’s chart to scan. Initial EMR system implementation provides a perfect opportunity to digitize and simplify these charts. Digital record management companies, such as OptiScan ®, can use their years of experience and highly trained professionals to help you determine the best approach for your company.
Some practices elect to scan the entire patient’s chart. This is the easiest and fastest approach, but it can also be the most expensive as most jobs are priced based on the overall page count of the practice. However it is the most efficient, as it allows for charts to be prepped in a standard manner (e.g. insertion of barcode sheets, removal of staples and paper clips, taping down of smaller sheets which can jam the scanner).
Other practices will elect to scan designated sections and data from each chart. This approach requires more time, as the preparation process is more time intensive. Preparation of the chart requires a more detailed review of the chart to ensure that the correct data gets scanned. This will increase preparation time of each chart and increase the overall timeline of the project.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to scanning designated portions of patients’ charts. One of the advantages is that with the elimination of useless pages, the charts become smaller and easier to manage. The relevant data is easier to locate in the chart, requiring less time from the office staff and physicians to find the desired information. Smaller charts also take up less computer storage, allowing more charts to be stored in smaller servers. However, there are also several disadvantages to this approach. The first is the accuracy of the sorting. While scanning companies employ trained professionals to complete the assigned tasks, they are not medical professionals and mistakes can be made when prepping the charts. Another disadvantage is the increased preparation time which can extend your project scanning timeline.
The decision to scan an entire chart versus a partial chart should be carefully considered. While it may appear that eliminating the useless pages would lead to less overall pages being scanned, thus lowering your cost, this if often not the case. In most cases the cost is simply shifted from the scanning to preparation portion of the job. On the other hand, eliminating the useless pages during the scanning process will ultimately lead to smaller, more concise charts. The pros and cons should be carefully considered when deciding what to scan.
Michael S. Hawkins
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