Automated and Standardized Data Entry: How is this achieved?

If you had electronic tools to automate data entry, capture the valuable data that is currently coming to you in electronic and paper documents, and use it immediately to make essential clinical decisions, would you ever go back to the entering data the old way?  

We all know the challenges of data entry associated with screening and long term care of patients arriving from outside your health system. Why should you have to wait for paper documentation to be sorted and entered by your staff when there are tools to automate and standardize data entry tasks? Sharing information among health institutions and physicians is not yet standardized, but that doesn't mean you can't achieve efficiency and automation with an affordable technology. Recent news reports confirm that interoperability is not a short term solution. The fact is you don't have to wait to take advantage of tools that improve data completeness and accuracy in your EHR – the data you need to make the right decisions for your patients. 

We should be using technology wherever possible.  Advanced data capture can provide your staff with tools to improve your accuracy with external documentation:  info needed for decision support, transition of care, and quality reporting, and laboratory results.   

Advanced Data Capture can solve many of your paper challenges by using automation and enforcing standardization of data arriving from outside your system.  Did you know that advanced data capture has many practical applications? It’s being used: 

  • In solid organ transplant for making readily available clinical data trapped in paper and electronic documents; addressing the challenges of populating flow chart data received from patient reported sources
  • In the clinical laboratory capturing data trapped in narrative format from referring physicians. It also addresses the challenges of reporting lab results to ambulatory primary care providers, no matter who placed the order
  • In heart failure clinics to capture and fill in the gaps missing in flowcharts received from patient reported sources. 
  • For surgical pathology capturing narrative surgical referrals and notes and translating them into synoptic format

You receive mounds unstructured of documentation every day and have perhaps done very well with limited resources. But what will happen as the volumes of incoming documents continue to grow? By applying technology to the situation and automating the things that technology can easily handle (i.e. finding the data and presenting it in discrete fields for validation before populating the EHR) and leaving only the important step of validation to your valuable clinical staff, you relieve them of the burden of data entry and use them for what they are most capable of doing. By doing this, you accomplish two things: keeping up with those mounds of incoming documents and gaining more of your clinical staff’s time for patient care.

Advanced data capture is highly customized to your specific workflows and can enforce quality by creating entry rules that may not exist in your information system right now. You can be cost conscience and adhere to compliance guidelines with your paper workflows. Advanced data capture is the way to make it a reality. 

About the Author: Greg Gies

For 20 years in the software industry, Greg Gies has been helping businesses, government agencies and healthcare organizations achieve their goals and carry out their missions by making better use of information and automating business processes. Greg has held positions in sales, product management and marketing and holds an MBA from Babson College. He works and lives with his wife and three boys in the Boston area.