For decades, medical offices, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have used paper records to maintain accurate patient files. However, as patient privacy laws changed, it became even more important to be able to access patient files no matter where they were being treated.
While traditional medical indexing was a means to an end in the past, today, there is a better and more efficient option – the use of electronic health records or EHRs.
The EHR is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. The EHRs are patient-centered, real-time records that allow a person’s information to be available securely and instantly to an authorized user.
However, there are still many people in the medical industry using traditional medical indexing for record-keeping purposes. Learn why this is not an efficient option and how it may be costing your practice and hospital more money with every passing day here.
1. Time is Money
There are more than 4.5 million ambulatory visits per year because of the adverse side effects of a drug. With traditional medical indexing, it is impossible to know what the patient has been prescribed or what they are taking without contacting past medical providers or doctors.
This not only delays treatment and potentially endangers the patient’s health further, but it costs your staff time, which costs you money. With an EHR system in place, the risk to the patient and the time-wasting element of this is eliminated. This is because the patient’s entire medical record is available online through the EHR.
2. Completeness of the Records
In most cases, digital health records are more complete than paper ones. Part of this is because of the organizational and retrieval process. It may also be due to EHRs providing patient portals that allow the subjects of the records to fill in their own information and data when they have time.
Regardless of which is true, research has regularly shown digital records are more complete.
Paper records are often missing information, simply incomplete, or filled in with inaccurate or outdated information. Regardless of which is true, this may impact the level of patient care provided. In turn, it can result in the medical practice or hospital losing money.
Also, issues of redundancy in paper systems must be found and corrected manually. Unfortunately, this is both time-intensive and expensive.
The modern digital systems will use supplementary technology such as biometric matching, deterministic matches, and probabilistic algorithms to prevent these issues.
3. The Cost
The cost associated with creating and maintaining paper records is derived from several sources. The first is when they are created, which is something that requires an initial investment.
It is estimated that every healthcare worker incurs between $850 up to $1,000 in document printing costs each year.
The creation isn’t the only cost. You have to store them, as well. Billions of dollars are spent archiving patient records. When a medical practice opts to store data in the digital format, the costs are much lower.
It is estimated that if medical providers would switch to digital record keeping, they could save up to $44 billion per year. Everything from the printing costs for the documents to disposing of them properly goes into this figure, which presents a rather strong argument for the use of digital documents.
4. Sharing Capabilities
It is easier to share digital documents than paper ones. This is because they can be transmitted wirelessly. Paper records must be copied, printed, or faxed, and then taken to the final destination.
All this requires time, labor, and money. The challenge of being able to share paper records is the main reason that patients spend so much on duplicate tests every year.
Digital information, test results, and images can all be sent to someone through email. This means the doctor doesn’t have to wait for a courier and the patient would not have to spend money on making copies or duplicate tests.
5. Security Concerns
There are a lot of risks with paper documents. However, there are also risks to know about digital records. If the digital option is going to be used, it is considered safer as long as the latest safety elements are in place.
A security benefit offered by digital is that it provides you with an audit log. This is a record of everyone who has accessed a certain patient’s file, made changes to it, and anything else that happened.
The highest quality audit logs are always operational and non-editable. This makes tampering and fraud detection easier.
When it comes to medical records, this is one area where traditional medical indexing does not hold a candle to digital documents. OCR – optical character recognition technology – can help to render a document that has been recently scanned completely searchable virtually instantly.
Medical Indexing: It’s Time to Let It Go
If you are still using traditional medical indexing, now is the time to “let it go.” With digital medical records, you are going to see an array of benefits that will help your medical practice save time, money, and provide improved patient care.
If you are interested in implementing an EHR program into your healthcare organization, keep the tips and information here in mind. Doing so is going to pay off and help ensure that you receive all the advantages mentioned here and more. You can also contact us to learn more and to schedule a demo for our services.