EMR and A Simple File Format

Posted on June 11, 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.

In our clinic we’d been scanning all of our various documents in as PDF files for the past 4 years. We just recently came across a better scanning application that would do a better job scanning documents into our EMR. It was a change we just had to make, because the new scanning program saved us a bunch of time in the scanning process, but….

Yes, there always has to be a “but” in there.

Turns out this new scanning application scans documents in the .tiff format. This is still a really nice format since it can handle multiple pages in one file and is still quite small. Not a problem right? Windows comes with some really simple, but workable programs for viewing image files. However, for some reason our installs didn’t recognize the .tiff (yes it’s 2 “f”s for some reason) file extension. For a tech person, creating this file association is a real no brainer. The problem is that we have over 100 computers in our health and counseling centers. That’s a lot of computers to have to go around and create the file type association.

The point of this story isn’t the specific problem. Instead, it illustrates one of the major challenges of an EMR (and really the technology to use an EMR) even AFTER you’ve implemented one. Little changes like the type of file type used when scanning can cause untold frustration in a clinic. When dealing with technology, it’s the details that really matter. Make sure you’re working with IT people who understand and plan for those details. Otherwise, prepare to want to throw your computer through the window. Trust me. It will happen.