Guest Post: Scanning Paper Charts in an EMR Office

Posted on July 6, 2010 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.

One of EMR and HIPAA readers, John Meewes, was reading some of the comments on my previous post, “Paper Chart Disposal After Implementing an EMR” and wanted to provide a scanning companies perspective on what he’s seeing in the market. The following is his guest blog post on the subject.

Discretionary scanning, hiring temporary help, and re-purposing office
staff to scan patient charts has been a growing trend.

While the costs associated with these practices may at first glance seem
lower, there are hidden costs and liabilities that far outweigh the
expected savings.

When selecting a scanner, the first number potential buyers see is the
“Pages per Minute” (ppm). This is the number of sheets that the scanner
can read under optimum conditions (and usually at lower resolution and
page size). The number usually not published or ignored is the daily
duty cycle – often just several thousand pages per day.

In real world settings, the actual throughput is less than 1/4 of the
published PPM. Jams, indexing, and software glitches all slow the
process. Equipment maintenance, software installation, training, and
employee turnover further add to the time spent on the scanning project.

As labor costs (which are a function of throughput) increase fourfold or
more, the ROI model that may have initially shown cost savings with a
“do it yourself” project may no longer support that decision.

Most importantly, though, is the liability physicians face for
improperly scanned charts. Transient help is cheap, but they have no
responsibility to monitor quality, ensure that records are properly
filed & attached to EMR, or to ensure that misplaced records are found.
We even worked with a physician who had temporary help literally
throwing charts away to create the illusion of higher productivity.

Physicians are required by law to maintain a medical record for each
patient which completely and accurately documents the person’s
evaluation and treatment. The failure to maintain a record for each
patient constitutes professional misconduct. A missing chart could
have serious consequences on the provider’s ability to defend themselves
in a malpractice claim. If you can’t produce the documentation, then
your version of the events will be suspect.

Reputable service bureaus have quality and auditing measures in place to
ensure accurate and complete conversion of paper charts. While the
upfront costs may seem higher, the peace of mind and longer term savings
are worthy of consideration.

John Meewes, President of National Scanning. National Scanning offers secure nationwide HIPAA compliant patient chart scanning services and EMR implementation consultation. – Patient Chart Scanning Services (888) 211-1797