As physician practices, clinics and hospitals begin their implementations of sophisticated EMR and EHR systems, they must address the issue of important information that sits on shelves and in file cabinets within these facilities. The healthcare industry is probably one of the largest repositories of paper-based records and information that support the treatment and care of the sick and needy.
As organizations move quickly to the new paradigm of electronic health records, they must now determine their strategy to incorporate the critical information on paper with digital data and images that form the basis of the new decision-making process that has medical professionals working with smartphones, tablets and computers.
The good news is that these new systems will allow significant improvements in diagnosis and patient care, but the bad news is that the systems are incomplete until all related medical information can be transferred from paper to digital formats that will complete the medical and healthcare records that are now online.
Below are six significant pain points that medical professionals are dealing with as they determine the strategy that will be deployed to scan patient charts and abstract medical information for their new EHR system before their go-live date at their facility.
- Lack of time and resources: As with many companies and organizations today, medical offices, clinics and hospitals do not have a lot of people just sitting around looking for something to do. The reason all this information is still on paper is that they have lived with paper medical charts for years and had no reason, or resources to change. Government programs and the HIPAA compliance and regulatory issues now are forcing these organizations to address the scanning of patient charts and the data entry/data capture of important medical information for importing to the EHR system.
- Lack of physical space to perform chart abstraction and complete patient chart scanning: Space is always at a premium when you visit a doctor’s office or clinic. To set up an area of significant size to provide an area for document preparation and chart scanning is quite a task, and it takes up a lot of space. In most cases, this is not something you want to do internally due to the expense of the scanner equipment and the people you will need to prepare the medical charts, determine the clinical data elements for the abstraction process, scan the documents and do the clinical data entry work required to complete the task.
- A reduced appointment schedule should be expected after you go-live: The benefits to be derived from an EHR implementation are significant, but an increased number of appointments is not one of them – especially if doctor’s are required to work with two different systems, one electronic and one still paper-based. It has been documented that the patient workload and appointment schedule will actually see a decrease in activity as the new system is implemented and doctor’s become familiar with it. Organizations that outsource the patient chart scanning and data abstraction of their paper-based medical charts will have all this information in the system on the go-live date and will be back to normal appointment levels faster and with more accurate information.
- Lost revenue due to seeing fewer patients: Technology is good, but there is a learning curve associated with these new systems. When appointment levels decrease, so also does the revenue being generated by the medical office or clinic. Working with a professional document scanning services vendor, will have your information converted to digital format faster and more accurately than if you try to do this in your office.
- Patient frustration due to longer wait times to see the physician: As doctors learn the new EHR system it will cause some delays in patient activity in the office or clinic. These delays can be reduced significantly if all the patient information has been converted and imported into the EHR system before the switch over to electronic medical files.
- Chaos and confusion: As with any new system, the learning curve can, and will, cause confusion among your staff. This chaos and confusion is heightened if there has not been an orderly and accurate conversion of paper-based medical charts in concert with an outsourcing vendor that specializes in the scanning of medical records in compliance with local, state, federal and HIPAA requirements. Addressing a total conversion and abstraction of critical information for importing into your EHR system will greatly reduce any chaos and confusion of trying to use two different systems to service patients.
Addressing these pain points before your go-live date for the EHR system will allow the practice or clinic to move forward with digital medical information and scanned patient chart information already in your system, minimizing interruption, protect against loss of revenue, and increase the efficiency to better service patients in our new electronic records environment.