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Why It's Time to Digitize Medical Records

As vaccines roll out across the world and cities and countries begin to lift restrictions and open up, it may seem like the world is ready to move on. However, the healthcare industry in particular will continue to face new challenges and unexpected, long-lasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic that will take time and innovation to recover from.

In order to bounce back from such an unprecedented event, the medical industry is going to need to find ways to improve efficiency without cutting corners or lowering standards. Digital transformation technology offers a lot of opportunities for just that. By enabling automation of mundane and repetitive tasks, centralizing communication, and making information more readily accessible across vast distances, digital technology is revolutionizing the way business is done, and may hold the key to getting the healthcare industry back on track post-pandemic.

A full-scale digital transformation can be a massive undertaking, so it often helps to break it down into more manageable parts. Digitizing paper documents and paper-driven processes is an excellent place to start.

Efficient and effective management of documents and records helps any organization run more smoothly. While improving this function can make a big difference in nearly any industry, it can have particularly positive impacts when it comes to organizing medical records. Here are a few reasons to start digitizing medical records:

Paper Digitization Offers Better Security

There are a wide variety of medical documents, including many that are considered highly confidential. Hard copy paper documents can lead to unnecessary security risks that digital documents more easily avoid. Paper documents can easily be mislabeled, incorrectly filed, lost, accidentally destroyed in fires or floods, or accessed by unauthorized individuals without a trace. Digitizing documents allows you to put in place strict security measures that limit access and visibility to only those with proper authorization, while also facilitating easy document search and lookup. Digital documents also have the added benefit of being able to track everyone who views, accesses, or changes the document, creating a reliable audit trail.

Greater Accessibility with Digital Documents

When dealing with a large volume of records, even meticulously organized for optimized retrieval, locating and accessing the specific information you’re looking for will always be needlessly time consuming. Navigating a well-designed digital document management system is going to be easier and more efficient. You can store records, define a standardized naming format, and find files more quickly.

Paper digitization also helps with legibility - a particular concern for the medical community in which ensuring prescriptions and dosages are correct can be a matter of life and death. Advance AI-powered optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) software is capable of extracting data from even handwritten documents - or alerting user if writing is too illegible and may cause confusion.

Reduced Storage Space

One thing the pandemic made abundantly clear for many health networks is the true value and importance of floorspace in healthcare facilities. A single sheet of paper may not seem to take up much space, but when dealing with the volumes most medical facilities see, that space fills up very quickly. By digitizing historical documents as well as newly created ones, medical facilities can cut down significantly on the amount of floorspace dedicated to document storage and reallocate it for better, more productive use. Maintaining physical records also often requires full-time help. Someone needs to be there to retrieve files, move them from locations, and maintain their organization. Digital document management solutions automate this task, making it faster, more efficient, and more consistent.

The healthcare industry has been slow to adopt some digital technologies, and not without good reason. But in order to bounce back from the unprecedented hit it took during the global pandemic, it’s time for the industry to invest in long term solutions that improve efficiency. By creating a smoother and faster administrative function, healthcare workers can focus more time and energy on their core mission - providing excellent patient care.

Find out more about how Exela’s digitization solutions can help your healthcare organization.