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Scanning....but without paper?

Since the dawn of the EMR (or at least for the last 15 years), there have been equal parts dismay and disbelief over the amount of paper generated during a patient’s admission for a customer fully live on an EMR system.  

Some of it was (and is) legitimate: outside medical records, consents, insurance-related documentation, information for a specialty not yet live on your EMR or interfaced in, a history and physical from a community clinic not live on your EMR, etc. Historically, these documents have been scanned from paper at one of the below points 

  • Pre-Visit for Outpatient Specialty Appointments 
  • Registration at Check-In 
  • Clinical Support during Visit/Admission 
  • Health Information Management after Visit/Discharge 

With the advent of more sophisticated faxing and scanning workflows and vendors who not only create a PDF of the scanned documentation but create a worklist that integrates with an organization’s secure email, we must ask the question….is scanning still a thing?  

How many of the documents you are scanning from paper post-discharge are available to be sent earlier in the process as an electronic PDF (through a faxing/scanning vendor)? We are seeing more customers have the ability to upload electronic PDF’s to the patient chart securely through Media Manager. 

Uploading documents is like scanning, except that the document is first saved on a secure, internal drive. Then, you can upload it to the chart (at the patient, encounter or account level) and index it appropriately to the correct document type.  

Working with these electronic PDF’s can avoid unnecessary printing and scanning of documentation that is already delivered electronically through email or fax (improving the quality of the documentation as it appears in the chart). It can also provide for indexing the information to the chart with a shorter turn-around time, as the high-powered scanning machines often only found in HIM departments are not required.  

Examples of areas that could utilize this uploading methodology: 

  • Outside H&P’s – if delivered electronically from outside offices, could be uploaded to the chart immediately by HIM or clinical users to improve your ability to comply with Joint Commission surgical H&P availability. 
  • External Medical Records – if received by your Transfer Center for potential incoming transfers, could be uploaded by those users or HIM, allowing easier facilitation of doc to doc conversations. 
  • Forms that require multiple signatures at different times – these forms are notoriously hard to build in EMR’s as e-signature forms. If the person who is in charge of collecting the last signature faxes it to the responsible department, it could be uploaded immediately. 

We would love to hear from you – what areas in your organization are utilizing the uploading of documents? Who is in charge of this uploading/indexing? What types of documentation are you using this workflow for? Please comment on our article at the LinkedIn posting – we want to start a dialogue about this workflow & know what’s trending at your organization!