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Ambir ADF Scanners for Healthcare – Healthcare Gadget Friday

Posted on April 20, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Many love to discuss the idea of the paperless office in healthcare. This turns out to be a dream that is (at least for now) impossible to obtain. In fact, some people argue that the amount of paper you use in an office increases because an EHR can print out a whole patient record so quickly. However, the bigger issue with paper post-EHR implementation usually has to do with all of the paper that your patients bring into the office and the paper documents that your patients need to sign. One day these issues might be resolved through HIEs and digital signatures. Until then, the most important tool a physician can have in their practice is a great scanner.

I’ve told the story multiple times about my very first EHR implementation where we used one of those cheap multi function scanners in medical records because we already had it. Fast forward a month or so and we’d literally burned through that scanner. That’s when I learned my first lesson that not all scanners are created equal.

I’ve had the powerful, but expensive Fujitsu scanners listed on my EMR Technology page for a long time. I know a lot of doctors offices that use these and they are just work horses that with some simple regular maintenance last forever. My biggest problem with these scanners has been their price. I remember how hard it was for me to convince a practice that it was worth the hefty price tag.

Ambir ImageScan Pro 820i and Ambir ImageScan Pro 930u

The good news is that healthcare now has another option in the Ambir ADF scanners. Ambir’s been in the scanner business for quite a while, but these ADF scanners are a relatively new addition to their scanner line up. I’ve had the chance to use both their Ambir ImageScan Pro 820i (See Amazon Listing) and their new Ambir ImageScan Pro 930u and can say I was quite pleased with both scanners.

I won’t bore you with all the specific specs for each scanner since you can read those on the website. I’ll just cover some of the highlights. The obvious difference between the 820i and the 930u is the speed. They do 25 ppm and 40 ppm (black and white) respectively. Seeing those numbers shows a stark contrast, but to be honest I never felt like the 820i was slow and I expect it would be fast enough for most ambulatory offices.

The 930u also has the fabulously named “Ultrasonic misfeed detection.” Isn’t that a great name? Per the websites it, “Stops jams and double-feeds before the happen.” Although, in the time I’ve been using both scanners I’ve never had problems with either scanner having a problem.

I personally love the robust scanning software that comes with both scanners. In fact, if anything there might be too many options to choose from in how you want to configure your scanner. I’m sure they could improve this with a little better interface that does a better job hiding some of the more advanced options and bringing out those options that people really care to configure most often. Although, as a techguy I loved having all the options at my disposal. The only trouble is that many practices don’t have a tech person who will wade through the options to find the best configuration. Thus my suggestion to make it feel simpler. The good part is that most people will configure it once and then not worry about it again.

The on-scanner buttons are simple and basically lean on the software in the background to do the heavy lifting. One button that I wish they had was a way to quickly switch between Front Side, Back Side and Duplex scanning. It’s pretty annoying to have to go into the software to change this setting. A button on the scanner to toggle through those settings would be ideal.

I’m not sure why, but the 820i also feels like a better designed, more sturdy product than the 930u. The 820i has the smoother edges which also adds to its visual appeal, but there’s something about it that makes it feel like a much more solid scanner than the 930u. I’m not sure if the 930u just uses cheaper plastic or something, but it doesn’t have the same well designed feel of the 820i. I wouldn’t say the 930u has a poor design, but when comparing the two side by side you can see the difference. I also love the flip up tray (820i) better than the slide in tray (930u), but that might be personal preference.

They’re both quite compact designs for an ADF scanner. I’m not sure you could really get a smaller footprint than what they’ve done with both of these scanners. Another great feature is that the scanners support ID scanning as well. Considering the number of licenses and insurance cards that we scan in healthcare, this is great.

Most EHR vendors will be glad to hear that it supports the popular TWAIN driver which I think most EHR vendors use to interface with scanners. The TWAIN driver automatically rotates pages, adjusts brightness, and autocrops images to minimize file size and increase OCR accuracy. Other features include: auto page sizing, blank page removal and auto deskew.

All in all I was quite pleased with the Ambir ADF scanners. I couldn’t find any major problems with them in all my tests and use of the scanner. I’ll be adding them as an EMR and HIPAA approved product on my EMR Technology page.

If you’ve used the Ambir scanners or other scanners, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Full Disclosure: Ambir has been an advertiser on the site since 1/2010.

New Fujitsu Smart Scanner Combined with CDA Clinical Document Standard Make for Interesting HIE

Posted on October 24, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today at MGMA, Fujitsu together with Osmosyz announced a new scanner that supports the relatively new CDA “Unstructured Document” HL7 standard at MGMA 2011. I must admit that the press release is a little intense. However, I find what they’re doing with a hardware product to support HIE is quite interesting.

I don’t want the title of this post to be misleading. While certainly HIE has generally become synonymous with some large health information exchange entity, in this case I’m describing a hardware device (a smart scanner if you will) that acts as a small health information exchange. Basically, it’s more along the lines of Direct Project as opposed to NHIN. Although, I imagine that it could send the documents to some larger health information exchange if someone wanted to do so.

The larger application I see of this technology is as a replacement for the fax machine. In some ways, it’s like a second generation fax machine. The major differentiation I see between a document sent using the CDA “Unstructured Document” HL7 standard and a fax is all the meta data that comes with the CDA document.

The fax or scanning workflow for most EHR software consists of receiving faxed documents or scanning documents into what amounts to basically a bucket of all the scanned documents. Then, it’s up to the user to go in and sort through all the various faxes that have been received or documents that have been scanned. At this point, the user can assign the document to a patient in the EHR. You can imagine the challenges that this can pose. I wonder how many documents scanned or faxed into an EHR have been assigned to the wrong patient accidentally.

That’s what makes this new Fujitsu scanner quite interesting. If it’s receiving the document from an outside source, it will come with the meta information for the document as part of the CDA standard. That can then be leveraged to more quickly assign that document to the patient. Not to mention, then all of that CDA information is available for other uses within the EHR.

For inside documents that are scanned in through the Fujitsu device you can actually assign the document to a patient on the scanner itself. That’s right, you can identify which patient a scanned document belongs to while you’re holding the document in your hand. A much better way to ensure that the document you scanned gets attached to the right patient in your EHR.

I’m just touching on a few of the features of what’s possible with this new Smart Scanner from Fujitsu and smart documents. You can do other things on the scanner like dividing document scans between multiple patients.

Meaningful Use Monday Angle
Of course, as most of you know, on Monday we usually do our regular Meaningful Use Monday series. Turns out that the CDA Clinical Document standard that I discuss above is being adopted by ONC as part of meaningful use. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over time, but don’t be surprised if EHR software has to support this standard in the future.

What I find more intriguing is that the above scanner could be used by someone who doesn’t have an EHR, but wants to exchange patient information. I still think that the long term solution to interoperability of patient information has got to come from connections with EHR software. However, this does illustrate that technology solutions can and will be created to exchange health information. In fact, some combination of these solutions could be a way to meet some of the meaningful use requirements around exchange of health information. You still can’t get the EHR stimulus money without an EHR, but technologies like this could help you achieve meaningful use.

I’ll keep an eye on how this technology progresses. I wonder how many EHR vendors will integrate with this type of technology. Whether we like it or not, documents are going to be a major part of healthcare for the foreseeable future. We’ll see if smart documents and smart scanners are an intermediate step to the health information exchange nirvana (whatever that might be).

EHR Innovations Have Gone Missing at HIMSS11

Posted on February 23, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the most disappointing parts of HIMSS for me is that the really creative and disruptive innovations are missing from HIMSS. There are a few items I saw like the Shareable Ink technology, some of the Nuance NLP/voice recognition work, and a pretty cool biometric kiosk by Fujitsu (which I’ll blog about later). Sadly I wasn’t seeing the really creative innovation coming from the EMR companies (and I talked to a lot of them) at HIMSS. I think there’s two possible things at play in this regard.

First, meaningful use is probably largely to blame for much of the lack of innovation that I saw. As someone told me, the regulation of EHR software has damaged and deterred the innovation. I guess you could say I’ve seen some interesting and innovative ways to approach meaningful use, but being innovative in meeting a government regulation is not the innovation I want to see. I think it’s generally clear that EMR vendors have spent the last development cycle focused on EHR certification and meaningful use.

I asked one large EMR vendor about this idea and what innovations their EHR had available. I don’t think he was very comfortable with the assertion. In response, he described how at his EMR company, they had a team that was focused on EHR certification and the meaningful use requirements but that they also had a whole other group that was focused on customer’s needs and meeting those customer needs.

It’s incredibly interesting that so many EHR vendors responded to my innovation (or what differentiated them from other vendors) by playing the EMR usability or “Doctors like using our EMR” better card. That’s related to the above, we have a group that focuses on our customer’s needs.

Certainly focusing on customer requests and needs is vital. However, it seems fitting to mention the oft quoted, “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse. – Henry Ford” Seems like HIMSS was just displaying the faster “horses” [EMR].

A second possibility is that maybe EMR software has become a commodity. Maybe the reason we don’t see that much innovation is because EMR software has now basically become a commodity. I certainly heard many EMR vendors suggest that EMR is basically a commodity service now and that many other factors will determine the success of the EMR company instead of the EMR software itself. I argue that once you reach a certain set of features, functions and successful installs that the software itself does become secondary to the success of most EMR companies. Does that mean EMR is a commodity?

The other angle that a few new EMR vendors are taking is that EMR is not a commodity. It’s just that all the current EMR software is junk. Most then like to compare EMR software to tablets. The Apple iPad came along and finally presented what amounts to an incredibly well thought out and designed tablet and is destroying the market. These new EMR vendors see their product as the innovative “iPad” of EMR software.

Only problem is that I have yet to see any EMR company have an iPad-onian moment.

I could easily argue that the iPad was the most marketed IT device on the HIMSS exhibit floor. Yet, an Apple booth was absolutely no where to be seen.

I wonder what kind of EHR could be so innovative and disruptive that it would be the talk of HIMSS even if they didn’t exhibit?

EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.

Best Scanners for High Volume Scanning in a Doctor’s Office

Posted on March 2, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We now interrupt all this HITECH act EHR stimulus money talk for our regularly scheduled program.

If you are looking at implementing EHR, then you better become familiar with a nice high quality scanner. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that they are paperless. Sure, many don’t store paper, but even the very best EMR or EHR implementation has loads of paper that needs to be scanned.

Still don’t believe me, then how do you plan on handling a new patient who brings in a stack of paper records from their old doctor. I’ll leave the rest of the list of possible paper for another day. Suffice it to say that you’ll NEED a high quality scanner that can handle high volume.

When we first implemented we used a nice little all in one scanner. Worked well, except we literally burnt it out after less than a month of scanning.

After that we finally ponied up the money and bought some high quality, high volume fujitsu scanners. 4 years later we’re still scanning with no end in sight. We do have to do regular cleaning (about 5 minutes max) to clean off all the ink that gets on the feeder. Otherwise, these babies are the best I’ve seen. Here’s links to the 2 models fujitsu currently offers.

Fujitsu fi-6130 Duplex Scanner
Update: The Fujitsu Fi-6130 is no longer available, but here’s the Fujitsu Fi-7160

Fujitsu FI-6230 Clr Duplex 40PPM/30PPM USB
Flat bed and ADF feeder:
Update: The Fujitsu Fi-6230 is no longer available, but here’s the Fujitsu Fi-7260

One has a flat bed for those hard to feed scan items (ie. prescriptions) and the other is just the feeder for the high volume scanning.  Some may think it’s a little expensive for a scanner, but it’s worth it.

I’ll be updating my list of EMR and EHR technology with items like the scanners above. Many people have asked me which scanners are best, which computers are best, what about tablets, fax servers, etc, etc. Now you can just check out my list of software, tablets, computers, fax servers, scanners, printers, etc and see some recommended items to help your office.