Moving from Paper to Pixels: Accelerate Your Transition to the EMR
April 30, 2012
As you grapple with keeping your paper and digital processes efficient, cost-effective and compliant, it’s easy to get frustrated. But with big changes in healthcare regulations come big opportunities. Are you ready for the electronic medical record?
How should a healthcare organization consider optimizing its transition to Electronic Medical Records (EMR)? The Meaningful Use guidelines laid out by the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare (CMS) have set the clock ticking for hospitals to claim their share of the billions set aside for successful EMR transition.
But that’s just one of a few developments revealing the writing on the wall: Electronic medical records, with all of their inherent efficiencies, are going to become your organization’s best friend as you strive to provide the highest level of patient care and reach the highest level of compliance.
What’s Behind the Electronic Record Mojo?
As a recent Iron Mountain Scanning Study revealed, your peers in the healthcare industry are getting the e-message loud and clear: 56 percent of the healthcare providers surveyed who currently manage both paper and electronic records cite improved patient care as the primary motivator for adopting EMR, while 32 percent identify compliance as their chief driver.
Reading that may make you want to scan all your paper records. But that’s both time and cost-prohibitive. Rather, address new information management challenges with a long-term hybrid strategy that taps the best aspects of EMR by scanning records that are better off in electronic format and archiving onsite records that are no longer active. It’s a cost-effective, efficient and rational means of going electronic and staying compliant, without breaking the bank or taxing already stretched team resources.
Making the Call: Paper or Electronic?
If you’ve resolved to scan with discretion, what’s your plan of attack? In healthcare, the data itself can pose the largest challenges. Doctors’ notes and charts; laboratory test results; and digital images, including X-rays, MRIs and CT scans, represent a kaleidoscope of formats. Knowing when and how you can—or must—convert these records to electronic format is the key to cutting costs and improving efficiency.
Criteria such as record type, frequency of use, age, retention regulations or any combination of these attributes can help to inform the “do we scan this or not” decision.
Rest assured, it’s money well spent if it gets you closer to implementing an EMR system that will help your organization meet the Meaningful Use requirements—and tap attractive financial incentives. With almost $19 billion set aside through 2015, there is a strong impetus to start your transition now.
Going Hybrid, With a Partner
Luckily, you don’t have to navigate the complexities of a hybrid records environment on your own. A trusted partner can guide your organization toward an efficient implementation plan. The steps include:
- Creating the strategy. Identify and understand the ways in which information is created, received and preserved for business and regulatory compliance purposes. Clearly defining the information that comprises the “record of care” should be part of any imaging strategy.
- Leveraging offsite storage. When records go offsite, they aren’t out of reach. Consider having a storage partner scan paper records within an agreed-upon time frame and help you develop a workflow that includes the secure delivery of the images you need, on demand.
- Establishing compliance policies. Retention, access and privacy policies are fundamental to developing an effective hybrid strategy.
Finding an efficient solution that accelerates your transition to EMR goes straight to the bottom line. Streamlined procedures save money on storage and labor costs while increasing productivity. The ultimate results? Shorter revenue cycles and improved efficiencies.
Iron Mountain Suggests: Accelerate Your EMR Transition
A recent Iron Mountain survey asked more than 200 health information professionals how they’re scanning paper patient records and planning to use them moving forward as part of their transition to an electronic medical records system. Some results:
- 78 percent of hospitals expect to continue to treat patients using paper records for up to five more years, despite the financial incentive for meeting CMS requirements.
- 49 percent say they’ve scanned what they need and are within their budget, while 23 percent report that they’re within budget but still have a backlog of records to scan.
- 54 percent are scanning records in onsite records rooms, while 29 percent use a centralized scanning location.
- 72 percent rely on full-time employees to scan, compared with just 9 percent who outsource to third parties and 5 percent who use part-time staff.
- 44 percent are not explicitly measuring the effectiveness or productivity of their scanning process.
Want to learn more about this timely topic? Going Paperless: Best Practices to Accelerate your EMR Transition, an Iron Mountain white paper, shares some expert insights on how to accelerate your EMR transition.
Do you have more questions about how your organization can transition to EMR? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s consulting services team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your information management challenges.
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Going Paperless: Best Practices To Accelerate Your EMR Transition