As with all businesses, digitization has become a critical yardstick for hospitals and other healthcare providers. Advancements in technology have also brought rapid changes in the field of medical records and management. Primary health care providers must have easy access to patient health records to find the best approach to treatment. Managing piles of paper documents or records generated and acquired by a healthcare clinic can be challenging. Medical document scanning can help digitize the content without compromising on quality. It also helps improve operational efficiency and eliminates time-consuming paper-related activities. Data quality, accuracy and completion are most important for the healthcare sector to deliver comprehensive medical care. All patient records have to be scanned and stored properly (to make sure that no information is missed out), sent to the required destinations in various formats, and made accessible anytime.
Medical Records Management – Understand the Basic Principles
About 85 percent of physicians use electronic medical records (EMR) systems to manage physical records in a digital environment. With advances in diagnostics and analytical tools, patient data is much more voluminous than before. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates medical providers to adhere to strict federal guidelines to protect patient privacy. Understanding the principles and policies related to medical records management can help healthcare organizations maintain compliance and protect their patients in the long run.
In simple terms, medical records management refers to a system of procedures and protocols for governing patient information. Right from the moment a patient record gets created, medical professionals have a legal and ethical obligation to protect patient information and manage medical records. Failure to do so can lead to serious medical errors and data breaches, and costly fines.
Scanning Medical Records – Key Benefits
Healthcare providers now use professional-grade scanning technology to digitize medical records. Accurately scanned digital records reduce medication errors, prevent unnecessary investigations, and improve communication and interaction among healthcare providers, patients, and others involved in their care. Here are some of the benefits of medical records scanning –
- Preserves medical records – Hospitals are required to keep patient records for a specific period. Having the files available electronically means they can be retrieved easily and quickly.
- Easy to retrieve – In order to provide the most appropriate treatment to patients, physicians must have complete access to patients’ medical data. Proper scanning and storage of medical records ensures physicians easy access to information such as medications, previous medical history, family history of a disease, insurance details, and lifestyle habits. When compared to paper documents, digital records are easier to retrieve. Therefore, digitization increases physicians’ efficiency levels, saving them time and the effort of retrieving paper records.
- Easy to share patient data – Medical specialists collaborate for diagnosis or multi-specialty treatment of advanced diseases. Scanned medical records make it less time-consuming for multi-specialty groups to work together. For instance, if we take the example of a diabetic patient (with fluctuating blood sugar levels and a consistently high HBA1C), medical specialists must access the patient’s records and add their notes to the medical history. In short, properly scanned and digitized data is a bonus for collaborative management.
- Compliance with HIPAA regulations – Right from sensitive patient information to lab test reports and prescription plans, healthcare providers deal with massive amounts of paper documents. Proper and correct maintenance of these records help deliver positive patient outcomes. Further, they must also comply with strict HIPAA regulations around storing and handling patient data.
If a doctor’s office loses patient files, but have already scanned them, there is no need for any concern. They can quickly retrieve the digital files and patient care will not be interrupted. Scanned files can be shared with other care providers as necessary and they can access the records immediately instead of waiting for them to be delivered by post or fax. A medical document scanning and management service provider can help ensure that your digitization project complies with all applicable regulations.
- Better patient communication – Digitized medical records are more accessible for the patient – either on the healthcare provider’s web portal or via mobile apps. A well-informed patient complies better with the prescribed medicines, especially in case of health conditions like – heart disease, diabetes or obesity that require lifestyle changes.
- Boosts productivity and saves time – Getting all medical documents in digital format helps physicians and other healthcare providers to access and retrieve the data easily. They can also share it easily among other physicians. This helps to save time as well as boost the productivity of the healthcare organization.
Adaptability of Medical Record Scanning for Hospitals – Key Aspects
Medical records scanning and management can be demanding. Poor records management leaves hospitals, medical practices and other providers vulnerable to costly fines and lawsuits, as well as criminal charges. Patient privacy is also at risk.
As medical records contain highly sensitive personal information, and when oversights occur, privacy gets compromised. Poor records management can lead to medication errors, missed diagnoses, treatment lapses and other potentially life-threatening events. Here discussed are some tips to consider when scanning medical documents for hospitals and clinics –
- Making the decision – Record keeping is an important factor in the medical field, which enables physicians to provide safe and effective treatment to patients. Paper records pose the risk of records getting lost. Medical document scanning provides easy access to information in secure formats that prevent loss and damage. Documents can also be sent to other doctors and hospitals easily when required.
- Organize what has to be digitized – As hospitals will have ample amount of data to be digitized, organizing and sorting complete information (as per priority) can be a challenging task. There is no point in prioritizing old and deceased patient’s information. Instead, the current list of patients must be considered for complete and accurate updating of information. Offline data entry will be a feasible solution as it does not disrupt the ongoing business. For each patient, the entire set of records (including the diagnostic test) has also to be digitized. This is important to make sure that the digital patient record is complete.
- Meet with account managers – Once, the decision related to scanning documents is taken, it is important to discuss the matter with the account managers. This allows them to spend time learning the goals of the hospital business and how to store documents efficiently. In addition, account managers can come up with document storage solutions tailored to the specific needs of the healthcare facility or clinic.
- Outsource data entry for on-time availability of data – One of the best ways to digitize patient information is by outsourcing the same to a competent and established medical record scanning service provider. Such providers will be familiar with medical terminology and this will ensure better quality data. Outsourcing also helps the hospital system become more efficient with patient care and data management.
- Ensure data quality – As the medical terms may be a little tricky to understand and manage, an established document scanning service provider must be chosen to ensure data quality. Standards pertaining to the healthcare industry must be correctly followed to ensure accuracy (which is essential for patient data).
- Timely updates – It is important to ensure that the patient information in the medical records remain updated. For instance, if any follow-ups or reviews have been suggested, corresponding alerts can be updated using the best healthcare software tools – which would make sure that the patient does not miss any review or appointments as advised by the healthcare professional. Timely updates will also make sure that in case of any emergency, the patient information will be completed accurately.
The advancements in the field of technology have made hospitals and healthcare clinics follow a more sophisticated approach to medical records management. Partnering with a reputable medical record scanning service provider can help healthcare providers maintain confidentiality at each step of the digitization process, and improve workflow and patient care.