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Eight Medical Document Imaging Solutions VARs Should Know

May 13, 2017

Document imaging solutions are a vital part of any medical practice, especially since the United States government has implemented new mandates regarding Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Even though many hospitals and medical practices have already adopted EHR procedures, there are still paper processes that need to be scanned and converted into digital content as part of EHRs. Therefore document imaging solutions for medical practices aren’t going out of style any time soon.

Under the new federal guidelines, Medicare eligible professionals (EPs) who do not adopt and successfully demonstrate meaningful use of a certified EHR technology will continue to lose out on Medicare payments. The government schedule for noncompliance is:

  • 2015—99% of Medicare physician fee schedule covered amount

  • 2016—98 % of Medicare physician fee schedule covered amount

  • 2017 and each subsequent year—97% of Medicare physician fee schedule covered amount

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to make some exceptions for doctors without Internet access but basically every medical practice has to have some kind of digital recordkeeping strategy in place.

The need to keep Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records is going to continue to drive demand for document imaging solutions. Like any business, doctor’s offices still run on paper, and paper has to be digitized and incorporated into overall administrative workflow as well as facilitating patient care.

Big Growth in EHR for Smaller Medical Practices

Most hospitals and larger medical practices have EHR in some form, but they still need document imaging solutions to convert paper documents. The biggest growth area, however, is in smaller medical practices.

According to government statistics, 94 percent of eligible hospitals have been paid for participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, and 85 percent of hospitals have demonstrated meaningful use of EHRs. However, only 73 percent of Medicare-eligible physician practices have been paid for demonstrating meaningful use through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, and only 49 percent have been paid through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. This shows that smaller practices and individual physician practices are still behind in EHR recordkeeping. There is still a lot of pent-up demand for document imaging solutions among smaller medical practices.

Document Imaging Applied in Medical Practice

Despite the mandated demand for electronic health records, there are other more practical business reasons physicians are adopting document imaging solutions as part of digitized recordkeeping:

  1. Mobile access to medical records – Perhaps the most compelling reason for digitized medical records is secure mobile access to patient records. Now physicians armed with tablet computers instead of clipboards are making their rounds with complete access to a patient’s medical history as well as other data such as insurance information, medical research, or drug inventory information. Converting paper patient files into EHR archives using document imaging solutions ensures that doctors and nurses have a complete medical history. (And the growing adoption of mobile access to patient records gives VARs more opportunities to sell secure mobile data access systems.)

  1. More efficient medical collaboration – By digitizing all patient records it makes sharing EHR information faster and easier, with less chance of loss or error. If a patient is admitted for hospital care, for example, the medical files can be transferred directly from the doctor’s office. It also simplifies sending patient records for second opinions and specialist consultations, and ensures that medical test results are tracked properly as well.

  1. Centralized record-keeping – Converting paper records to digital format makes it easier to centralize medical records. Consolidating administrative and medical records in a single location ensures that administrators get a complete portrait of patient care for billing and follow-up. It also minimizes the risk of misplaced files and errors in bookkeeping.

  1. Better patient confidentiality and security – Eliminating paper using document imaging solutions means that patient records are more secure. Paper patient records are no longer left out in the open but are secured. Scanning paper patient records not only a good security practice but mandated under HIPAA’s patient safety confidentiality rules.

  1. Simplifying insurance claims – Processing insurance claims is one of the most challenging parts of medical administration. Implementing paperless processes simplifies medical insurance claims processing since digitized records are easier to access and review.

  1. Better patient service – Centralizing patient records also makes it easier to ensure accurate care and billing. If a patient has to verify past care or challenge a charge for an insurance claim, all the necessary information is stored in a central data repository. Centralizing patient records also make it easier to share medical records with pharmacists or specialists at the patient’s request.

  1. Saves administrative time – Paperless workflows and processes are more efficient and save staff time, which means the practice can handle more patients more effectively. Less time is required for billing, scheduling, and insurance claims.

  1. Disaster recovery – Converting paper to digital format also ensures against potential disaster. If there is a fire or flood, all paper patient records would be lost. Digitizing paper records using document imaging solutions ensures that records can be secured, either in a secure data format stored away from the office or in the cloud.

These are eight applications and arguments for document imaging solutions as part of paperless medical processes. Healthcare offices are wrestling with the same operational issues as any business, and the same arguments and solutions can be applied. Plus medical offices have unique needs such as mobile access to patient records and regulatory compliance. Understanding some of the unique requirements in healthcare will make it easier to demonstrate the need for document imaging solutions.