Scanning the paper files is just the beginning of your project. You will need to be able to find and view the images. Document management software is what makes this happen. The DMS (document management system) manages and retrieves the scanned files from metadata stored in a database.
The most common method used to capture files is scanning to DMS. The documents are scanned directly to the category you wish to store them. Scanning to DMS is more labor intensive as opposed to using recognition technologies that allow the use of high capacity scanners and automatic capture of the metadata.
Computer technology allows the organization to save labor and time. But to integrate the files into the document management system or EMR (electronic medical record), you will need a load file to batch import the metadata. A load file is a delimited ASCII text file that contains the information needed for search and retrieval.
Document coding and optical character recognition are methods to capture text and data from scanned documents. The methods allow you to create an effective filing system for search and retrieval. You may be amazed to find how the methods can provide a solution, and the value of each, when you study the following list:
Barcode Recognition – Print barcode separator sheets and insert as a cover sheet before the first page of each document set. The covers are read to a database and the scanned files automatically separated to folder and subfolder hierarchy. Multiple barcodes can be generated on the same page which would populate multiple data fields.
Zone OCR – A zone “template” is created and the text in the zone is extracted with optical character recognition to populate the data into a database or CSV delimited text file. The process gives the best results with similar document types, where the data to capture is located at the same place on each page.
Auto-Index – Optical character recognition captures index values from scanned documents. to pull blocks of text into a well formed xml file. Programming script or macro may be written to automate the process or purchase a commercial application. Works best with clean and good quality original documents.
Coding and Data Entry – Coding is basically keying of document types, date, the numbering scheme or identifier and other required data entry fields. Logical document determination is generally used prior to coding to determine the start and end of the documents. Coding usually is preferred for handwritten material or poor quality images.
Scanning documents directly to the software, or patient charts into an EMR or EHR (electronic health records) system does not provide true savings associated with computer automation. Automatic processes speed up the project and reduce the labor involved. However, in some cases indexing the images may be required. OCR is not 100% accurate and may not provide the required accuracy. In these cases, the clean up and correction after the fact may be more costly than outsourcing the manual data entry.