Choosing the Right Document Scanner

Naji Kazak, General Manager – Middle East, Africa, Turkey & Russia at Alaris, a Kodak Alaris Business explains the key features one need to examine while preparing to buy an scanner for healthcare and medical requirements. 

Naji Kazak, General Manager – Middle East, Africa, Turkey & Russia at Alaris, a Kodak Alaris Business

Historically, the healthcare industry has been paper intensive, but in this digital age, document scanning and archiving will help speed up patient care, improve records management, ensure regulatory compliance and provide significant cost savings. Medical scanning and data capture technologies are now becoming an integral part of the industry.

So, what are the right features to consider when choosing the best scanners for healthcare and medical records scanning?

Process Optimization
The admission process in any healthcare setting is time-consuming and creates a significant amount of paperwork. 70 percent of new patient information is received as paper documents which takes time and money to process manually. Manual data entry runs the risk of error, and this can impact patient care.

Scanning is often cumbersome because, in addition to patient intake forms, there are irregularly sized documents such as insurance cards and photo identification that also need to be in a patient’s medical record.

Today there are scanners that have superior document handling capabilities that ensure that patient records are quickly and reliably scanned. With features such as Active Feed, Controlled Stacking, and Intelligent Document Protection, all documents are accurately scanned without the need for presorting.

It is important that the scanners being used contribute to the security of electronic personal health information. The scanners need to comply with existing and new legislation and ensure that confidential patient data is safely routed to a secure file repository. By eliminating paper records and digitizing paper based documents that arrive from external sources or documentation that gets produces during the hospital stay, you’ll mitigate risks and ensure secure data handling and storage. The insertion of patient data into the EMR system ensures patient privacy and compliance.

Optical Character Recognition
OCR is one of the most important features a scanner can provide to a healthcare setting for medical records scanning and indexing. Optical character recognition is the electronic conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. OCR allows you to search and sort PDF documents in the same way you would a Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Google Docs file. You can search by keyword, edit with a word processor, send the text by email, and even decode it using screen readers.

These benefits open up a larger bundle of benefits that otherwise would not be possible. Those benefits include:
Speed: Modern OCR technology dramatically improves efficiency by decreasing the time spent searching for information on medical records. Instead of searching through documents manually, you can search by keyword. You can even use names as keywords to quickly find documents for specific patients.
Cost efficiency: You can finish more work in the same amount of time when you eliminate the need to manually search for documents and specific notes on those documents. Additionally, you’ll save money by avoiding the costs associated with copying and printing.
Reduced environmental impact: It’s simple: The fewer resources you use, the less of a negative impact you make on your environment. Digitally indexing your documents as opposed to using a traditional filing system reduces your paper usage.
Reduced physical space: Without a physical filing system, you have more space available where filing cabinets used to be. For some offices, this means a more efficient use of space. For others, it may even mean relocating to a smaller space to take advantage of cheaper rent and lower overhead for heating, cooling, and lighting.
Document accessibility: Having documents scanned and indexed with an OCR makes their information immediately accessible in multiple places and on multiple systems at once. This is a huge improvement compared to only having a select number of physical copies available in select locations, which you must spend time searching for and filing.
Reduced errors: Data entry errors happen. So do typos, lost documents, and misfiles. Automatically indexing your documents eliminates all of these issues.

Intelligent Barcode Reading
Intelligent barcode reading automatically processes barcodes for job instructions when scanning. You can group different types of scanning jobs together, each type of job being bookended with barcodes prompting the scanner to read everything within them in a designated way. Once the scanner reaches the second barcode in the stack, it removes those instructions and moves on to the instructions provided by the barcode in the next stack. This way, you can process multiple types of jobs at once without needing to tend to the scanner.

This technology further improves the efficiency of your medical office, whether it is a small private practice or part of a larger hospital. Providing health centers with sufficient time to care for each individual patient is one of the game-changing differences between the bedside manners that make people feel welcome and the hurried attendance that leaves patients feeling like just another number. Less time spent in the back office means more time spent helping the patients themselves.

The Best Features Are the Ones You Need
Look for scanners that usenative, non-proprietary TWAIN integrations, which means they are time-tested, provide for easy integration, and will not present surprises later on when PC’s are upgraded. Document scanner vendors should also have a full team of field engineers to provide installation, technical support, and proactive troubleshooting tasks to staff, avoiding costly downtime.

Scanners that are the best to use in your EMR system integrate with the majority of electronic medical records systems like McKesson and Epic. Make sure they also have the required certifications like Cerner for example, so you can be sure that you comply with healthcare standards.