For large healthcare organizations, the inability to seamlessly incorporate patient data from scanned and faxed medical records from clinics and physician offices is a bottleneck that prevents any of the synergies promised to come from the digitization of medical records.
Despite numerous mandates to convert paper-based medical records to electronic, paper persists in the US medical system. A 2022 Report to Congress on the Access, Exchange, and Use of Electronic Health Information identified the gaps:
- Hospitals vs physician offices
Between 2008 and 2021, hospitals have nearly reached 100% participation in electronic health data exchange, compared to approximately 80% of office-based physicians. While this difference might not seem huge, when you consider that in the US in 2019, there were approximately 220k office-based physicians just in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics alone, you can get an idea of the scale the gap represents.
- Smaller, rural hospitals vs larger urban and/or suburban hospitals Not surprisingly, the report found that medium and larger sized hospitals in urban and suburban areas have higher participation in networks for electronic health data exchange. “The percentage of small, rural, and non-critical access hospitals (CAHs) participating in each of these network types slightly lags compared to medium and large hospitals, suburban and urban hospitals, and non-CAHs respectively.”
Organizational impacts of the paper-to-digital medical records gap
Patient records from physician offices and outpatient facilities are still often generated on paper, which is then scanned and uploaded or faxed to another health provider. The task of identifying and classifying these incoming records, then extracting and indexing patient data from them is an ongoing challenge that inhibits growth. Beyond growth, however, slow, error-prone medical record indexing can impact a healthcare organization in several key areas:
Compliance: An inability to quickly digitize, classify, and index paper records results in scattered patient data and open EHR loops that make it difficult to comply with constantly shifting regulations. Consider, for example, the impact of a 2022 HIPAA update that cut in half the time to fulfill patient requests for health data from 30 to 15 days.
Productivity: Process and workflow inconsistencies–like the one that paper vs. electronic medical records presents–negatively impact productivity and performance, which makes sense when you consider that even a 1% inaccuracy rate can result in 50,000 medical record errors per 1,000 providers.
Finance: Slow and inaccurate chart completion translates to slow reimbursement and revenue cycles. From a financial visibility perspective, it’s difficult to get an accurate, up-to-date view when the revenue cycles of outpatient clinics and office-based physicians are on one (much slower) track and hospital revenue is on another.
Patient care: Adoption of patient portals and telehealth services ramped up by necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, such that today patients consider these services a “must have” rather than a “nice to have”. According to the 2022 Report to Congress on the Access, Exchange, and Use of Electronic Health Information: “ … patient access to EHI (electronic health information) is critical to patients having their most successful care journey.” Aside from enabling patient portals and telehealth services, the faster a patient’s health record can be made whole (i.e. comprehensive, up to date and complete), the better equipped healthcare providers are to make decisions regarding patient health.
Collective Intelligence for medical records indexing
What if patient data from digital and paper records could be indexed with 99% accuracy in under four hours–guaranteed?
Our collective intelligence solution for medical records offers a solution for scaling medical record classification and indexing of scanned documents and images. We’ve made it possible by combining self-learning AI and the ability to instantaneously divide work among HIPAA-compliant specialists.
From intake forms to test results to specialist consults to inpatient documentation to assisted care information to screenings, questionnaires, consents, and referrals–any and all documents that make up a medical record flow into ScaleHub’s medical records indexing solution, where they’re quickly and accurately classified by doc type and chronologically organized before key values such as MRN, DOS, Patient Name, and CPT codes are extracted and quickly indexed. All of this is completed in four hours or less at a guaranteed accuracy rate of 99% or higher.