As technologies advance and the rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) tighten, more health care facilities are using document scanning solutions and electronic health records (EHRs) systems to ensure compliance and remain competitive. While it may seem simpler to continue using paper-based patient charts, it’s important to remember that practices have limited storage space and it only takes one disaster to wipe out irreplaceable patient information.
Advantages of Electronic Health Records
- Enhanced privacy and security: With paper documents, anyone who gains access to a file room can look at or take medical charts. Accidentally placing patient-related paperwork on a counter in an area where others may see it is a HIPPA violation. Good EHRs are encrypted and require users to input a password to log into the software. The health care facility’s network has safeguards in place, such as firewalls, remote monitoring, system backups, and virus protection to prevent offsite information breaches. Because of the redundant backing up of patient files in EHRs, vital data remains secure when there is a disaster.
- Enhanced coordinated care: Medical providers can’t always meet with each other to discuss the patients in their care. EHRs allow health teams to monitor patients and view information, including prescribed medications, allergies, treatment plans, and patient conditions. This is particularly beneficial when patients see multiple specialists, meet with a new physician or need emergency treatment. The use of EHRs decreases fragmentation of care, wasted time, and ultimately patient stress.
- Fewer errors: While some poke fun at the notoriously messy penmanship of some doctors, the inability to read an individual’s handwriting can be a matter of life or death for a patient. EHRs make patient files more legible, improving patient outcomes and risk management. Reputable EHR software that requires providers to input codes from lists ensures that patient records are more complete and accurate, and prevents liability actions.
- Streamed lined processes: With the ability to input medical codes when treating a patient, billing, insurance paperwork, and other process become more streamlined, and the aggregation of patient information improves. In addition to streamlining clerical work, EHRs support research staff as they study and gather data about the different populations served.
- Improved patient experience: EHRs make it simpler for providers and their staff to find and access patient information, prevent medication errors and make it simpler for patients to obtain prescription medications. Depending on the system, patients may view some of their own health records online and receive reminders regarding appointments or important health screenings.
Document Scanning for Transitioning into a Digital System
Practices with copious physical patient charts require careful coordination when moving into an EHR system. Providers and office staff must make decisions regarding the historical patient information to keep, how to ensure the quality of the converted data, and maintaining and using physical charts after transitioning to EHRs.
The best approach and timeline for converting to an EHR system vary by practice, staff training, the complexity of patient files, the amount of historical information to convert, and the conversion methods used (e.g., direct data entry, document scanning, and the conversion resources available).
As your facility plans for a transition to an EHR system, do not neglect the need for a disaster preparedness plan. Polygon’s document recovery services include Code Blue®, a proactive program in which practice and a restoration specialist create a recovery plan for the medical office’s vital documents in the event of a disaster. Participation gives practice access to priority services that include document scanning on-site or at a secure facility, as well as real-time document access after a disaster. Contact Polygon about how to implement its services into your practices EHR transition plan.
[Photo from www.audio-luci-store.it via CC License 2.0]