converting paper to electronic health records

Posted by & filed under Health Informatics.

Over 92 million metric tons of paper are produced in the US annually. A massive chunk of this goes into the medical industry as patients fill in forms, receive charts and prescriptions from their physicians. However, a strong digitization wave is sweeping across the nation as more facilities change from paper to electronic medical records (EMR).

The benefits of EMR are endless, from reduced misdiagnosis, easier access to medical data to less storage space, and increased efficiency. It speaks to the fact that over 87% of physicians now use EMR for their practices. But how do you ensure a successful transition? Here are some tips to guide you when moving from paper to electronic health records.


1. Evaluate the Needs of the Medical Facility

The size and specialty of your medical practice may have a significant impact on the type of medical records you may need to convert to digital format. Primary care and emergency units tend to need more documentation for proper analysis of medical history, thus may need to upload more files. Specialty practices that usually offer consulting services may not require to back-date to far. Primary care facilities see an average of 2184 patients a year and maintain their documents for 5 to 7 years. These can translate to a lot of documents that need to be converted.


2. Create a Plan

Find clinical content consultants such as CIS consulting and formulate a blueprint on the best way for converting paper to electronic health records. Do you have time to scan through all the documents? Or will you have to hire a third-party? It is essential to ensure that your staff is on the same page regarding the process. Let different departments contribute to what they think is critical to capture in the initial phase. Create a realistic timeframe to complete the EMR project, with goals set for every week.


3. Choose Appropriate Method to Use

You may need to figure out the best way to convert paper to electronic health records. At first, you may need a hybrid system where new patients run under EMR, as you scan and update information on the current active patient accounts. You need to figure out how you will backload the data. Will you use your current staff? Or perhaps hire new temp staff to scan the documents? You may also decide to outsource to a third-party. As a rule of thumb, try to keep the medical records in-house as much as possible. It helps reduce the chances of HIPPA violations.


4. Augment Your Staff

You may need to schedule continued staff training as you launch your ambitious plan for converting paper to electronic health records. The consultants for the EMR software can train your staff on how to use the program. It is vital to ensure most employees are comfortable with the level of technology. It may reduce resistance to the adoption of the technology. You may also have to conduct training after software updates to ensure your staff stays refreshed on the best way to use the EMRs.

Converting paper to electronic health records is an excellent way to streamline activities in your medical facility. It may take a while to achieve, but with proper planning, the transition can be a resounding success. For more information on how best to adopt EMR systems for your practice, feel free to contact CIS consulting.