How To Improve Efficiency And Cut Costs With Digital Technology

Author(s): 
By Bruce Werber, DPM

Archiving Records: How To Maximize Savings And Save Space

   To maintain old charts, a practice can spend $100 per month or more for storage space. We all keep explanation of benefits (EOBs) for years. Can a practice really find needed records after 12 months or even two months? How often does a practice ever need to find them again? In my experience, our office has rarely needed to retrieve these records yet we spent money every month storing them. The same goes for bills, receipts, message books and old appointment books. It is time to eliminate this drain on financial and space resources.    For a modest investment of time and money, a practice can eliminate its storage locker, regain office space and eliminate mold and mildew. This requires a high-speed scanner that can scan at least 50 pages per minute. The scanner should have automatic document feeder (ADF) and duplex scanning (allowing one to scan both sides of the page simultaneously). While these scanners typically range in price from $3,000 to $10,000, one can also find them on eBay.com (using the search term “high speed paper scanners”) at a significant discount. To confirm that the scanner is of quality and has all the components the practice needs, check it out on ScannerGalaxy.com.    Connecting the scanner to the computer requires a high-speed port. Some scanners require an SCSI interface card. Kofax boards are the most common and the best of their class. You can also find these on eBay. These interface cards range from $500 to $3,000. They allow the scanner to communicate at high speed with the computer, achieving the promised 50 to 70 pages per minute scan speeds. Some scanners will use a FireWire port and some require USB2. These types of ports are now found on newer computers and are also fairly inexpensive to add to an older computer, costing between $50 to $150.    To understand how the scanner will connect to the computer, check out the Web site ScannerGalaxy.com as well as the manufacturer’s Web site for details.    The computer required for this archiving process is a Pentium 4 class machine with a CDRW, 256 MB of RAM, USB2 and/or FireWire ports. The computer should have a very large hard drive of at least 200 GB. The operating system can be XP Home. I prefer XP Professional since it allows easier networking to the office network.

What You Should Know About Other Helpful Tools

   One should also incorporate either a Webcam with 1.3 megapixels or memory, or a digital camera with a higher megapixel count. Your staff can use this camera for copying radiographs. We have a setup that includes a view box and a Logitech orbital Webcam. We take a picture of the radiograph and store it with the patient’s name and X-ray date.    Paper management software is the last piece of the setup and two companies have very reasonably priced products. Scansoft sells Paperport for $100 to $160. Another one in the same price range is Papermaster by eFax. Both of these products are very easy to use. In setting up the program, one can create a virtual filing cabinet that contains patient charts. This makes it easy for the staff to find the old charts, invoices and EOBs very quickly.

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