To Scan or Not

September 1, 2005

I have an EMR, but still have a lot of paper. Lab results and other information come in on paper. I've thought about scanning these documents and including them in the EMR, but it seems so time-intensive. How can I tell if the effort will pay off?

Question: I have an EMR, but still have a lot of paper. Lab results and other information come in on paper. I've thought about scanning these documents and including them in the EMR, but it seems so time-intensive. How can I tell if the effort will pay off?

Answer: To determine if scanning is a cost-saver, you'll want to compare the price of the system and its administration (that is, what you will have to spend on staff scanning the documents) with the cost of having to maintain a manual filing system. You'll have to estimate the latter cost, but be sure to consider the space that you will save as well as the employees' time.

Further, some practices have found that specific areas in their practice - like the billing office and the scanning of EOBs for submission of secondaries, or the front office scanning patients' insurance cards - has really been cost-effective, but not a whole-practice solution.