If you’re a medical professional, chances are you’ve had to deal with the headache of scanning and organizing medical records, especially given that almost 90% of office-based physicians currently use an electronic medical records (EMR) system, per the CDC.
Whether you’re one of the offices that haven’t made the transition yet and need advice, or you’re simply trying to find a way to make the process quicker and easier, look no further! Here are five tips to help make the job of prepping and scanning medical records fast and easy.
1. Inventory Your Documents and Equipment
If possible, perform a thorough inventory of all the documents you need to scan and tabulate an approximate page count. Knowing how many documents you need to scan will help you calculate the timeframe for your project, the number of hours and personnel needed, and the type of scanner you will need to purchase or rent.
If you plan is to outsource the scanning job to a vendor specializing in medical document scanning, having an approximate page count will help them to give you a more accurate estimate.
If you plan to do the job entirely in-office, the type of scanner you need to invest in will depend on the number of pages you have to scan and the specific timeframe you are working within, as well as the number of personnel you can afford to devote to the job.
A basic document scanner is approximately $200; a more high-end document scanner that supports duplex (two-sided) scanning and barcode scanning will be more expensive. However, as barcode scanning is essential to a good EMR system (see #2), you will likely want to get a high-quality scanner with that feature. There are reliable scanner recommendations in this article.
2. Select a Good Document Management System
Simply scanning all of your documents into a digital format isn’t going to be helpful unless your documents are being organized as you scan them in for easy reference later.
Go Find It’s medical practice management software is a comprehensive, secure, and HIPAA-compliant cloud-based document management system to assist you in seamlessly uploading, organizing, and sharing patient records.
Our organization tool, Turbo Owl, uses a barcode system to ensure that your documents are organized correctly and grouped together according to the specifications you set, making it easy to quickly organize and find relevant patient charts, test results, medical imaging, and other documents.
The other tools in the Go Find It suite allow you to easily share patient medical records with patients, other medical providers, legal offices, and other interested parties and to collect valid digital signatures when necessary efficiently.
3. Prep Your Records for Scanning
Your goal when scanning is to have a clean scanned page of each document. If you prep your documents for scanning beforehand, it will make the actual scanning process go faster and reduce the chance of scanning mistakes.
Here are some tips for prepping your records for scanning:
- Remove all staples from documents. Staples can scratch and damage your scanner. Use paper clips or binder clips to keep documents together instead, as they can easily be removed for scanning and replaced afterward.
- Check for highlighting and handwritten notes. Neither highlighting nor handwritten notes can be easily digitally transferred. If you find any of these, try to obtain a clean copy of the document and use sticky notes to indicate what portions need highlighting or electronic notations added after the clean document has been scanned.
- Mark double-sided pages. Use tabs, sticky notes, colored paper clips, or another non-permanent method to mark double-sided pages. This helps ensure that documents with two sides will get both sides scanned during the scanning process. It also assists in alerting personnel of a double-sided document during the quality control process, so the record can be double-checked to ensure all relevant pages were added.
4. Use a Checklist While Scanning Medical Records
One way to help improve the quality of medical records is to use a checklist when scanning them. This can help ensure that all important information is captured and nothing is missed. It’s a simple and effective way to help make sure that the records are as useful and complete as possible.
You can make your own checklist, customized to the type and format of your office’s records, in a word processor or spreadsheet and print it out for the benefit of those who are doing the scanning. To save paper, you could also make the checklist electronic and ensure that each completed, scanned record has a checklist attached, which has the added benefit of assisting in quality control checks.
If you can’t or prefer not to make your own checklist, HealthIT.gov provides a scanning checklist for medical records that helps in planning the process of scanning, as well as an easy checklist for reference of all documents that may be or should be included in a patient’s electronic medical record.
5. Back Up Your Electronic Documents
Once your records are scanned and saved, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan to keep them backed up with a cloud-based system so that you will always be able to access your documents even if a natural disaster or similar occurs to render your physical office inoperable or temporarily inaccessible. Your files should be backed up nightly, if possible, to minimize any data loss that may occur.
Go Find It can back up and store your records in our secure database to ensure that they will always be available to you, regardless of your physical location. If you want to learn more about the various document management tools that Go Find It has available for digitizing, organizing, and sharing your medical records, contact us for a demo today! We’ll help to make prepping and scanning medical records a fast and easy process for your practice.