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Dealing with Old Paper Charts in an EHR World

Posted on January 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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Such a well done video by ChartCapture. Plus, it intrigued me enough to get me interested in what they had to offer. I think I’d actually met them at the Canon booth at HIMSS before, but somehow I did’t capture the full simplicity of their chart scanning solution until I saw this video demonstrating how their solution works:

I love really simple and straightforward appliances and chart capture is the perfect solution for an appliance like this. It’s beautiful to have a plug and play appliance with no server, no setup, and just ready to go without having to get IT to make it a priority.

As I talked to Scott Ferguson from ChartCapture, I asked him when most customers chose to start using their product during an EHR go live. He responded, “Most customers typically drop us in 90 days prior to go live (or as soon as the have the “realization moment”).”

I love the concept of the realization moment and anyone who’s worked on an EHR implementation knows what I’m talking about. It’s that moment during the EHR implementation that the users ask the question “what about the paper charts?” For some reason many people just think that the EHR vendor will somehow magically just deal with the paper charts. The realization moment is when they realize that they’re going to figure out what to do with the paper charts.

I’ve long been a proponent of scanning in your old paper charts. I still love the outsourcing option because some of the quality they can provide in the scanning process. However, that option is cost prohibitive to many. So, an appliance like ChartCapture is a nice alternative solution for scanning your paper charts at a lower cost. Just be sure if you choose to scan in house that you make sure you hire detail oriented people for the job. It’s a monotonous job and requires detailed effort to do it right.

EMRs and the Paperless Medical Office

Posted on October 31, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

From the American Medical Association comes a recent story on EMRs and the paperless medical office. I think it touches quite effectively on the issue facing medical offices today – transitioning new patients to the new EMR has proved a lot easier than turning older paper records electronic. In one of my earlier posts, I’d written about this topic. This article provides some clever strategies in identifying which paper records to convert earlier than others.

Among the points discussed:
EMR use does not equal paperless: And yet, these two ideas somehow seem conflated in people’s minds. A doctor I spoke to recently said he had assumed that the EMR vendor would convert older paper records to electronic as part of the EMR purchase package. Well, the vendor might – for a fee. Electronic conversion ranges from simple paper scans to character/word recognition. For truly rich use of your data, say for report generation purposes, you’ll want something that populates a database. In fact, “data transfer probably is going to be a significant line item in the EMR budget.”

Not all data is equal: Having an EMR doesn’t mean that every little scrap of paper from the patient’s records needs to go into it. Doctors can make the call on the kind of data that they find most useful. It would however need some amount of planning and insight, not to mention time, to make this happen. What’s important depends on specialty as well.

Not all patients are equal: If a small proportion of patients you see tend to be the ones that come for repeat consults, it might make more sense to get the entirety of their paper records into the EMR.

Don’t make a beeline for the shredder immediately: Really, this should be self-intuitive. Unless you’re sure that every important piece of information you need has been transferred to the EMR, and the EMR data matches what’s on paper, don’t shred the patient’s records.

The only real quibble I have with the article was where it mentions that one company found that “having the doctors enter the data ensured the integrity of the information and helped them learn the new system.” Seriously? Have your $200+ per hour physician enter older records into an EMR, when you can get a temp or third-party vendor to do it for a fraction of the cost?

The statistics at the end of the article are quite interesting. The first statistic is especially encouraging.

A survey of 200 health IT professionals found that hospitals are taking varied approaches to digitizing their records. (Respondents could give more than one answer.)
49% have scanned what they need and stayed within their budget.
23% are within budget but still have a backlog of records to scan.
54% are scanning records onsite.
29% are using a centralized scanning location.
72% are relying on full-time employees to scan.
9% are using third parties.
6% are using part-time staff.
44% are not explicitly measuring the effectiveness or productivity of their scanning process.
58% plan to shred paper records once scanning is complete.
38% plan to store paper files in onsite records rooms or offsite storage facilities.

Source: Survey by information management company Iron Mountain, July