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Healthcare Mixes EDM & Hardware

16 Sep, 2009 By: Laurel B. Sanders imageSource

Healthcare Mixes EDM & Hardware

2009 is a year of significant change, and healthcare is an issue on many
people’s minds, both in management, processing, claims, benefits, affordability,
and yes, heightening regulatory compliance. Despite divergent opinions about
details and funding, it seems nearly everyone agrees that our healthcare system
needs reform, and the tides of change are in motion; from the White House down
to your company or clients; all of us are aware that healthcare is a staple that
needs modification. Will the shake out affect how you sell your solution
software to healthcare clients? Quite possibly.

The move toward connected (electronic) healthcare means significant changes
await us.  Not only will the ‘new healthcare’ established involve powerful
software, it will expand a wider use of computers, printers, fax machines,
scanners, MFPs, PDAs, and the supplies and services that support them.  If
you’re an equipment provider or a hybrid dealer offering equipment and solutions
(and the IT techs to support them), a hotbed of opportunity is emerging. 
However, you must understand the proposed changes and your own role in
healthcare connectivity to make the most of it!

The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted in
February, set the stage for transformation with $19.2 billion in provisions for
healthcare information technology.

Relaxation of the Stark Law added momentum, letting hospitals bear up to 85%
of electronic health record implementation for community physician offices.  In
June, the first draft of the Affordable Health Choices Act was released,
mentioning “data” 157 times—an undercurrent of the continuing drive toward
healthcare connectivity. Transformation can’t happen quickly enough for many. 
The key is efficient data capture and a centralized repository for all
patient-related information.

The Need

When healthcare practitioners and administrators make decisions, they
consult multiple documents. Scattered information slows access. Consider some of
the standard patient-related documents that are consulted:

• Patient admissions forms

• Electronic health and medical records

• X-rays

• Lab results

• Patient risk factors

• Insurance forms

• Explanation of benefits

• Checks

• Discharge forms

Often, clinical software doesn’t ‘talk’ with admissions, billing, and other
administrative applications.  However, if institutions obtain and leverage the
right equipment & software, they can enable connectivity & reap its rewards.

In the future, hospital facilities, clinics, doctors, nurses, pharmacists,
and their staff will have everything they need to provide patients with optimal
service as well as run their organizations more efficiently. Intelligent
hardware, supported by electronic document management (EDM) software, will
provide an unshakable foundation to support every institutional need.  Health IT
will dramatically reduce administrative waste by connecting isolated silos of
critical information.  Access to secure, accurate, timely information will
ensure swift, quality care.

Paper vs. PDF

If the institutions you serve have digital records, then scanners, copiers,
MFPs, fax machines, and shredders may already be part of their solution.  Adding
desktop scanners enables receptionists to capture forms electronically at the
counter as well as documents scanned by patients engaging in self service.
Scanning paper documents upon receipt and using EDM software to index files
thoroughly makes records and their content secure, yet easily accessible and
instantly searchable.

The equipment you provide helps make sure that patients have what’s needed
when paper documentation is required. EDM lets staff print to PDFs and other
screen-readable formats when paper isn’t necessary.

Office Equipment – Institutor of Change

The case for connectivity is strong; it’s being talked about everywhere in
healthcare circles.  Although the goal for institutions is efficiency—and
reducing paper is a huge factor in eliminating waste—printers, copiers, toner,
paper, and contracted services remain not only viable—they’re vital.  However,
your clients will appreciate that you understand where paper-generating
equipment helps to extend healthcare connectivity and patient service, and where
EDM can help them avoid costly paper files, storage and/or waste.

All of us benefit from affordable, high quality care, both in business and
personally.  As a dealer or reseller, you can help the vertical sector of
healthcare providers take advantage of the intelligent capture devices and the
connectivity offered by EDM. You can play a pivotal role in improving the
quality of medical information for your clients, as well as leading to better
care for yourself and those around you. 

Connectivity case studies

Many solution providers are seeing that some medical institutions have
already transformed their business models, using powerful equipment with an EDM
underlay and digital workflow to accelerate work and communication. Consider
these office provider challenges & success stories:

Hospital health records library

A hospital health records library with patient records growing at
an unsustainable pace, given current staffing and storage space. The solution
provider assessed the hospital’s needs then implemented a digital solution to
lead to a positive result:

Challenge:  To enable quick, secure access to patient documentation. 

Overcrowding of files in the library made access time-consuming, while posing
health and safety risks to staff as they accessed records in cabinets, on
shelves, and in boxes.  Papers were often in transit or not properly re-filed,
complicating retrieval.

Solution: The hospital migrated to digital patient records in 2005.
Typically, 90,000 pages were scanned weekly on average. The implemented digital
solution allowed the hospital library to now have more than 100,000 patient
notes stored electronically.  The networked system allows more than 300 users to
access records securely on computers, laptops, and PDAs. 

Result: Electronic records drastically cut storage and retrieval
costs, despite significant costs for additional scanners, shredders, and other
equipment. Clinicians now view records easily and securely. Patients’ concerns
are addressed quickly and accurately, saving the hospital considerable time and

Medical center surgery scheduling

A medical center in Pennsylvania performed approximately 450
surgeries per week, scheduled by 22 departments within the facility.  The
solution provider assessed the medical center’s needs then implemented a digital
solution to lead to a positive result:

Challenge:  To eliminate errors, improve communication, and lower
administrative costs of a cumbersome surgery scheduling process. 

Previously, schedulers received 22 different forms, transmitted primarily by
fax. Surgery scheduling forms, changes to surgical procedures, and cancellations
were too frequently not acted upon properly due to unclear fax transmissions. 
Some were misplaced, lost, or duplicated.  Mistakes cost the facility hundreds
of thousands of dollars and negatively affected patient care. 

Solution: With the implemented digital solution, the hospital
automated its surgery scheduling process.  Computers, laptops, and electronic
forms were used, as well as PDAs and laptops.   Now, forms are generated,
collected, and modified electronically.  Supporting data is captured using
scanners and digitally routing faxes, eliminating ghost transmissions and
mislaid paperwork.  Doctors can annotate and approve scheduled surgeries
remotely using PDAs and laptops. 

Result: Timely and accurate communication ended costly mistakes from
unnecessary cancellations and rescheduling. Storage space and filing staff were

Laurel Sanders is the director of public relations and communications for
Optical Image Technology.  For information about the company’s award-winning
suite of DocFinity software, visit
or contact

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