Doing the Paper Shuffle

The year is now 2017 and we have been a digital society for quite some time, but if you talk with people in the healthcare industry, you will find that paper is still floating around. In 2016, we worked with two major hospitals and you would be amazed by not only how prevalent paper documents are, but how these paper medical documents get copied and moved to different people through the hospital, this is what we call the “Paper Shuffle”. 

In one particular medical center managing paper lab documents, the staff had printed off faxed lab results and manually entered the content on the printed copy into their EMR, which was either physically handed to them or scanned/emailed to the Nurse Coordinator or Department Administrator. If the lab document was scanned or emailed, the original paper document would be shredded. The Nurse Coordinator would verify the results in the EMR and if the lab was considered a regulatory document, it would get routed to the HIM Department for scanning. This means that if their original document was scanned or emailed, it would be printed again. Not only did they have multiple copies of paper lab documents floating around, but the HIM Department is likely getting a much lower quality document since it has been scanned and printed numerous times. Non-lab documents worked in a similar manner, where the medical center’s administrative team would print and route the paper medical documents to Nurse Coordinators for review and then send the paper medical documents back to the data-entry staff member(s) who would then route the documents to the HIM Department for scanning into the EMR as an attachment and reference document.

A second center had a similar process for paper lab documents, but often, the physician needed to review the lab document along with the Nurse Coordinator. In addition, they were recording lab results on paper flow cards that needed to be present with the paper lab document for the physician to review. This introduced another piece of paper present in the hospital system that needed to be accounted for.

This manual process of shuffling paper between people and departments can cause frequent headaches. One solution is to simply scan the paper medical documents so the copy is accessible in the EMR and then have the Nurse Coordinators or the physician(s) review everything in there. This method works like a charm and is what many HIM Departments are doing when scanning to the patient’s medical records. However, trying to sort through all of these documents to find the one that requires review is not always a simple task.

Now there is a way to keep these important medical documents digital with intelligent document classification and indexing.  At reputable medical centers across the nation, Extract has nearly eliminated the use of paper by removing the need to print. These medical centers enter and route medical documents using Extract’s data capture solution. These medical documents are kept digital throughout the data verification phase—no longer requiring full manual data entry—and at the same time, the medical documents are sent discretely through an HL7 interface. The corresponding document is automatically routed to the hospital’s document management system where it gets linked into the patient’s chart. 

Are you ready to stop doing the “Paper Shuffle”?

About the Author: Mike Beles

Mike Beles, Customer Support Specialist & Project Manager at Extract, has been involved with implementing and leading software projects for over 18 years. Mike Beles works closely with Extract’s customers to deliver quality support. Beles also works closely with the Rule Writing Department to organize projects and manage team workloads. Beles has a well-versed background in software training, support, quality assurance as well as both product and project management.