Whilst many industries have realised the benefits of digitizing records and documents, healthcare organisations in both the UK and the US are still slow in making the transition. This is often due to the belief that scanning medical records and documents is too large an investment to justify, or too much of a risk.
Read the article to learn more about the options for digitizing your medical records.
The volume of medical records that healthcare organisations process has increased tenfold in the last five years. When you consider the amount of resource required to manage paper medical records, not only do the records take up valuable space that could be better used for clinical purposes, but they also present a number of Data Protection and Compliance challenges. Just consider the costs and risks:
It is time for healthcare organisations to begin making the transition from paper to digital. Digitizing medical records can dramatically reduce costs, while simultaneously making your patients' medical data more secure, reducing clinical risk and improving patient care.
Additionally, there are other drivers that impact this decision. For instance, in the UK, ‘Paperless 2024’ is an opportunity to transform health and social care by offering everyone from administration and care professionals to patients, better use of data and technology. In the US, the impact of electronic medical records is still undergoing a debate - but according to statistics from 2004 - 2014, saw a steady increase in more doctors using electronic medical records and is a continuing upward trend.
When done well, making the switch from paper-based to digital medical records can be a painless process that quickly pays for itself.
There are two ways that healthcare organisations can choose to digitize their medical records - you can decide to do it in-house or you can choose to outsource it to a professional document scanning and management company.
1. In-house medical records scanning
Firstly, do you have the capability to scan a high volume of medical records and documents in-house? Whilst this would seem like the quickest route to digitization, to do this properly you will need quality scanners, dedicated staff, project managers, technical training, space for workstations, quality assurance procedures, servers and printers, plus the specialised software to make it all work.
The majority of healthcare organizations will have a vast number of active and legacy medical records. To be able to manage the scanning of these medical records in-house you need to consider the following:
"Too often the task of scanning records is often given to juniors, interns or temps, which can increase the risk of errors and may result in anything from lawsuits, and privacy breaches under current Data Protection legislation".
2. Outsourced medical records scanning
Your other option is to outsource medical records scanning to professionals, who have the knowledge, experience and skills to undertake large-scale projects. Outsourcing is usually recommended for large-scale digitization projects and is generally faster and more affordable than trying to do it in-house. It is important to select an outsourcing company who understands the healthcare sector and all the compliance and regulatory nuances that really matter to your organisation.
”Outsourcing” may sound like a risk, in that you will be handing over important and private medical records in order to digitize, however, your organisation can gain some much-needed value and benefits:
"When you consider the risk of errors and privacy breaches, it’s no wonder that many healthcare organisations are increasingly making the informed decision to outsource their scanning needs to third parties"
This is because their processes are compliant with current legislation - essential to offer reassurance and peace of mind to organisations in the healthcare industry. By contracting the job to professionals, you will reduce both clinical and data protection risks.
Scanning medical records can feel like an overwhelming and huge undertaking and it should not be underestimated, but document scanning can help you deal with the rapidly increasing burden of maintaining a paper archive.
"By outsourcing you are handing over a huge administrative task to professionals".
Outsourcing your document scanning saves capital investment and staffing costs. Choosing a scanning partner with state-of-the-art production equipment and software, managed by well trained and experienced staff, will give you greater consistency, less stress and a more cost effective option for document digitisation than most in-house operations are capable of.
You will be free to focus on delivering the very best patient care with the added benefits of working from digitised documents!
Want to learn more about how scanning your medical records can benefit your healthcare organisation? Request a free consultation call with Ruth Gooda to find out more.
Ruth Gooda has 15+ years' expertise in the implementation of information management solutions for high profile organisations. Over the past 5 years Ruth has specialised in the Healthcare sector working on major medical record digitisation projects and now heads up the Healthcare division at EDM Group.
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