Chart Scanning Offers Versatility, Saves Time, Space, and Money

October 22, 2008

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The 2009 AAN Annual Meeting in Seattle will offer "Digital Demos: Technology Solutions That You Can Afford," a free event on April 28, 2009. This is the first of a series of articles to help members understand benefits and considerations regarding digital technology in the office.

Current time studies show that the cost of handling a paper chart—from initial phone call to re-filing the chart—is $8.00. Paper records can be misfiled, lost, or inadvertently destroyed. The scanning of medical charts and records can result in long-term cost savings and increased efficiency in helping neurologists obtain the patient information they need—more quickly and less expensively.

William Henderson, FACMPE, administrator of Upstate Neurology Consultants in Albany, NY, knows this firsthand. His medical group of six physicians has been scanning their patients’ medical charts, all paper billing records, and all business documents for the last four years. "We’ve scanned and shredded more than 1 million documents, and our practice has gained over 800 square feet of former paper storage space that has been turned into additional medical space," said Henderson, a member of the AAN’s Practice Management and Technology Subcommittee.

Scanning options include both stand-alone applications and scanning modules integrated into an electronic health record (EHR). The scanned image, usually stored in a graphical format such as .jpg or .tif, can also be converted to a searchable optical character recognition (OCR) document.

Scanning solutions require a scanning device and database software, a computer network, and a computer software interface on practice workstations that allows searching, retrieval, viewing, and printing of scanned documents. The costs for scanning solutions vary by the chosen type of implementation, with stand-alone systems beginning at $5,000 to more integrated solutions that can cost in excess of $50,000.

Henderson, whose practice has been on a fully integrated EHR system for three years, will be one of the presenters at the Digital Demos session at the Annual Meeting. "We will review several types of scanning options, demonstrate how documents are scanned, review methods for classifying scanned documents, and show how scanning can store the billing and business records of the practice."

For more information on the Digital Demos, contact Corinn Sagsveen at csagsveen@aan.com or (651) 695-2810.