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A Complete Guide to Medical Records Scanning

Medical records are crucial to providing quality medical care.

But collecting, storing, and protecting medical records can be burdensome and risky, especially when records are in paper form.  The higher the volume of medical records, the bigger the challenge gets.

That’s why more healthcare providers are deploying medical records scanning solutions.

Digitizing medical records streamlines processes makes patient information instantly available, and helps ensure compliance with the Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

This article provides an overview of medical records scanning.

What is medical records scanning?

Medical records are essential to patient care, diagnosis, and treatment.

But hospitals and other healthcare providers face lots of challenges in managing patient records.

For starters, it’s not uncommon for hospitals and other healthcare providers to manage a lot of information from multiple sources, including lab reports, digital imaging reports, and physician notes.  Many healthcare providers have tens of thousands of medical records to keep track of.

Healthcare providers also must ensure the accuracy and completeness of patient records.  A single piece of incorrect or missing information in a record could put a patient at risk.  Making matters worse, interpreting patient records can be tricky, even for seasoned healthcare professionals.

Additionally, healthcare providers must comply with HIPAA regulations for maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of patient information.  Any mishandling or misuse of patient information can result in significant penalties as well as damage to a healthcare provider’s reputation.  Healthcare providers could face fines of tens of thousands of dollars for improperly securing sensitive data.

Most medical offices and other healthcare providers rely on a patchwork of paper-based systems and electronic filing systems to manage their medical records.  This hodgepodge of processes and systems often results in lost data, unsecured information, and difficulty accessing updated records.

Medical records scanning offers healthcare providers a solution.

Medical records scanning converts paper-based medical records into an electronic format.

Digitizing medical records reduce manual processes, eliminates the possibility of lost or misplaced information, makes information instantly available, and safeguards patient information.

Process of medical records scanning

The medical records scanning process involves several steps:

  1. Identification. The healthcare provider must determine which paper records must be scanned.  Records that are already in an electronic format also may be captured.
  2. Preparation. To ensure that images meet the highest quality standards, the healthcare provider must remove any paperclips or staples from medical records before scanning.
  3. Scanning. Paper-based medical records are digitized using a production scanner.  Some scanners automatically batch images of medical records, eliminating the need to pre-sort.  Others capture the metadata required for indexing in-line during the scanning process.
  4. Archival. Images of medical records are stored in a secure repository.  Authorized users can instantly access images at any time, from any location, using any PC, laptop, or smart device.

These steps transform the way that healthcare providers manage their medical records.

Advantages of functions of medical records scanning

Medical records scanning provides tremendous benefits for hospitals and healthcare providers.

  • Enhanced patient service. Centrally storing medical records in a digital repository makes a patient’s complete medical history instantly accessible to physicians, reducing the possibility of errors that could put a patient’s health at risk.  Digitally storing records also eliminates the need for costly physical file storage and retrieval, wipes out the possibility of lost or misfiled records, and makes it less likely that sensitive information will fall into the wrong hands.
  • Better insights. Digitizing medical records enables healthcare providers to analyze data to uncover trends in patient care.  Unlocking the data on medical records also allows providers to implement preventative measures to dramatically reduce the likelihood of adverse events.
  • Reduced costs. Medical records scanning eliminates the expense of storing physical documents.  Digital records also reduce the need for paper and related consumables.

These benefits are available to hospitals and healthcare providers of all sizes.

Tools for medical records scanning

Several tools are available for medical records scanning.

  • Cloud. An alternative to on-premises solutions, cloud software centrally stores images and data and makes information available fast to authorized users at any time, from any location.
  • High-production scanners. High-production scanners convert medical records to electronic format.  Best-in-class scanners process documents of all sizes comingled.  Some scanners also capture metadata from documents in-line and out-sort documents based on captured data.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR). OCR software interprets the machine-printed data on paper-based and electronic medical records, reducing the need for manual data entry.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) with Machine Learning. AI uses adaptive algorithms to perform cognitive tasks without human operator intervention.  AI-powered software can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns in patient care and flag potential issues.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA software connects medical records scanning solutions with downstream systems and processes, without the need for programming.

These tools automate the collection, storage, and protection of medical records.

Automate medical records scanning

Patient records are crucial to patient care.  But collecting, storing, and protecting paper-based records is inefficient and risky.  Medical records scanning reduces administrative costs, improves patient care, and mitigates the risk of data breaches and compliance issues by eliminating the huge costs associated with paper, providing instant access to patient records, and securing private patient data.

Do you need to automate the scanning of medical records? ibml can help!

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