Digitizing Medical Records: Converting Document Storage Rooms Into Exam Rooms

With DocuWare, patient medical records at one of the nation’s largest pediatric practices are seamlessly integrated with existing medical software. Records can be accessed across seven different offices, allowing for quicker responses to information requests, longer face time with physicians and, thanks to the transformation of record rooms into exam rooms, greater access to medical care – all of which improve patient services.

Established in 1967, Pediatric Associates is a physician-owned practice committed to providing excellent medical care to infants, children and adolescents. The clinic has 80 physicians and a staff of 330 spread throughout seven locations in the state of Washington. As one of the largest pediatric groups in the country, the clinic meets with 800-1,200 patients a day, which adds up to over 250,000 patient visits a year. The group has one administration office, which handles centralized scheduling, the call center, the IT department and the business office.

Initial situation

As a large clinic, Pediatric Associates continually strives to improve its business processes. The organization implemented medical software, Greenway PrimeSUITE, in an effort to start using electronic medical records as well as integrate clinical, financial and administrative functions into a single database. The medical software worked very well; however, the clinic still had millions of pages of paper-based charts that staff needed to access, and three of its facilities were running out of storage room.

Requirements

The clinic decided that converting paper charts to digital records was the next step in streamlining its operations. After evaluating several document management vendors, the clinic selected DocuWare because it offered a scalable enterprise-class solution with a Web interface and was able to integrate with Pediatric Associates’ existing software systems. Additionally, DocuWare met the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations while still being intuitive and easy to use. Along with the software, the clinic installed several MFPs, one Fujitsu fi-6670 scanner and five Fujitsu fi-6110 scanners.

Solution

Initially, Pediatric Associates was going to outsource the scanning of its medical records; however, in order to meet quality assurance standards, those scanning the charts needed an internal working knowledge of the documents. In a single chart, there are multiple document types, lab work, correspondence, x-rays, growth charts, immunization records, diagnosis sheet and notes.

The clinic created an internal team of medical record archivists who, with some assistance from temporary employees, opened each chart and organized the documents based on type. A cover sheet with patient name and date of birth was added to each record. The records were then scanned and indexed using those patient names and dates of birth as match codes to fill in the remaining index entries. Within 48 hours, each page of the digitized records was reviewed to meet QA standards and released for physician access.

To date, the clinic has digitized over 40,000 patient records. Three of the seven offices are now completely paperless, and the medical archive team continues to digitize records, one location at a time.

Benefits

The most important benefit of the new system is how seamlessly DocuWare interfaces with the clinic’s medical software suite. Physicians only have to log in to one system to add a diagnosis or notes to a patient’s chart and view a complete medical history. By simply clicking a hot button within the medical software, DocuWare opens and automatically displays the archived portion of the medical record. This happens without separately logging into DocuWare or performing a separate search.

In the past, if a patient was not being seen in his or her home clinic, the physician could not reference the patient’s chart because paper records were physically located in only one location. Today, charts can be accessed from any clinic, providing doctors with the ability to provide superior care. Patients have noticed the improvements and are reaping the benefit of longer face time with their physicians. Information requests that used to take as long as five to 60 minutes can now be performed in mere seconds.

“DocuWare has definitely made an impact on patient safety and customer service. Having important information secure and easy to access is very key for our organization,” said Brock Morris, chief information officer for Pediatric Associates.

The clinic’s return on investment (ROI) has been strong and is still growing. With DocuWare in place, record storage rooms have been transformed into eight additional exam rooms, allowing the practice to increase revenue and improve physician availability for patients. Additionally, the clinic no longer has to pay for off-site document storage.

“DocuWare has become a core component of our electronic medical record process. The software is used both to send and receive records from other clinics, allowing for quick, accurate transfer of sensitive patient information. DocuWare helps us conform to HIPAA because of its security and document tracking features,” Morris said.

Conclusion

Once all of Pediatric Associates’ medical records have been moved into DocuWare, the system will be expanded to cover human resources and the business office. Pediatric Associates plans to begin using DocuWare’s workflow capability to automate claims processing and manage crucial financial documents.

With DocuWare in place, the clinic’s seven locations can now operate as one, streamlining logistics and improving both information access and patient service.

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