Saturday, December 09, 2006

Going Solo: Practical Document Management.

Even in a small EMR friendly medical practice, such as mine, document management can become problematic. When I first started, I had an EMR (see previous post) that easily handled 95% of paper in my office, such as notes, labs, studies, correspondance letters, etc. But we still needed copies of the patients' insurance ID cards, drivers licenses, HIPAA forms, and patient demographic information forms. While this may, or may not, seem like a mountain of paper, it quickly grew into a management problem. We found ourselves, on a growing number of occassions, having to expend time and energy on filing, copying, and retrieving documents.

Not what I had in mind!

So in order to overvcome this hurdle, I brainstormed.

  • Buy expensive copier that copies and scans quickly and automatically inserts into EMR. Awesome, but can't afford ("Oh but Dr, we have attractive leasing options!").
  • Buy flatbed scanner, and have staff manually scan documents daily or weekly into appropriate folders in EMR. No way!
  • Once a week or month, I or staff can place the mound of paper into the ADF of my multifunction scanner and then manually separate the digital copies into the appropriate folders in the EMR. Yeh!! It took forever just to write that down. Actually doing it, impossible!
  • Use my old digital point and shoot camera and take photos of the cards against a black background. Tried it. Staff didn't like it. I liked staff. Nixed camera!
  • CardScan! Yes, now this may work. For $99 I purchased a business card scanner with OCR software included and tried it out. It has worked beautifully. My staff and I can scan patients' insurance cards, front and back, and driver's licenses quickly and easily, and the software extracts the information into unique, searchable fields. We can even make re-prints of the crads or just insert the data extracted from the card into a form. Yes, this works great.

So I still have HIPAA forms and patient demographic forms, and this is managable for now. Yes I do have ideas to eliminate even these forms.

Any suggestions from the blogosphere?