Electronic capture of paper based documents offers many benefits for hospital operators. The Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen replaced the expensive and labour intensive microfilming of patients’ records with the rigorous implementation of digitisation using InoTec SCAMAX® high performance scanners. This resulted in reduced archiving costs and an optimised work-flow.
When, in 2008, the Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen and the Sankt Marien-Hospital Buer came under the auspices of the St. Augustinus Gelsenkirchen GmbH, management identified a number potential economies that could be realised in the administrative area. "Both hospitals voluminous archives of paper based and microfilmed patients’ records. These records were both stretching available storage room to the limit and slowed down general workflow due to retrieval problems ", explains Carsten Heßling, Manager IT / Business Systems at St. Augustinus Gelsenkirchen GmbH, the dilemma they faced.
Hospital threatened by "Paper Coronary"
Patients’ records are not only of high importance to doctors and nurses during treatment, but also have significant impact on administrative processes. They not only document the medical services rendered but are paramount for the eventual charging to the health insurance providers.
The number of inpatient treatments per annum amounts to about 25,000 for the Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen and around 10,000 for the Sankt Marien Hospital Buer, according to Carsten Heßling. Accordingly, a great number of documents are generated.
Emperic data shows that each hospital bed generates approximately one metre of paper per year (in height – not length). Both hospitals together have about 700 beds. Given the premise that patients’ records must be retained for a minimum of thirty years, the first three years in paper form, it is easy to understand the performance pressure more and more hospitals find themselves in.
Scanning confidently, archiving legally compliant
The persons responsible for the selection of the scanner infrastructure evaluated several reference projects. They concluded that InoTec’s SCAMAX® 4x2 series high performance scanners were the most suitable machines to meet their requirements. "Since patients’ records contain widely varying document types, from classical doctors’ letters, ultrasound picture printed on thermal paper to ECG and EEG strips, a key requirement is the reliable feed and transport of the documents “, stated Carsten Heßling. It is in this area that InoTec scanners excelled as well as delivering high quality images.
InoTec scanners feature an in-house developed LED illumination system, which provides a vastly improved illumination of the documents. The high efficiency of LED’s also reduces power consumption of the illumination system by 75 percent.
Other important selection criteria, according to Carsten Heßling, were the superior price-performance ratio and the simple operation of the SCAMAX® models. „Scanning is done at both Gelsenkirchen and Buer by in-house staff. Therefore we attach great importance to intuitive operation and simple maintenance“.
Using two InoTec high performance scanners at the Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen and one unit at the Sankt Marien Hospital Buer, the existing hardcopy archive has been digitised since the autumn of 2010. Monthly document volumes are around 3,700 patients’ records, each containing about fifty to one hundred pieces of paper.
After scanning, document batches are digitally signed, using a special software solution, and then saved to a common digital data archive. Signing of individual documents is done by the respective operator, using a personal signature card.
„Authenticity of digitised records is greatly increased by digitally signing them. That way we are eminently equipped to face any possible legal challenge“, explains Carsten Heßling.
Earlier Scanning Scheduled
Meanwhile the project is undergoing continuous development. By now separator sheets carrying special barcodes are used to further improve records organisation. "That way we can replicate the paper based record structure exactly. This makes it much easier to search for specific electronic documents, such as doctors’ notes or surgery reports ", explains Carsten Heßling.
Another project is the closer integration of the digital archive with the general electronic hospital information system (HIS). The aim is to give doctors access to all relevant medical information at the patients’ hospital bed via mobile Tablet-PCs. They will then also be able to access the status of all currently ordered treatments. Initial pilot installations have already been successfully implemented.
An electronic lending management system for the patients’ records was also implemented. "The hectic daily medical work routine often leads to patients’ records not being sent to the archive in a timely manner. If the patient’s record has not arrived in the archive within 14 days of his/her discharge it will be specifically requisitioned ", stated Carsten Heßling.
He also expects to gain global improvements through ‚Early Scanning’: "One of our medium-term goals is to scan patients’ records straight after the patient has been discharged, not after three years as is currently the practice ".
In Carsten Heßling’s view this will not only be beneficial to the administration processes but also for the hospitals’ customers: „If patients have to be re-admitted quick access to the existing patient history would further increase the quality of treatment “.
InoTec scanners can prove their functionality and efficiency even in completely new application areas. These areas cover tasks like electronic capture of incoming mail through to complete digitisation of personnel and contract archives.
St. Augustinus Gelsenkirchen GmbH
The Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen is the teaching hospital of the Duisburg-Essen University. It is a modern emergency and accident hospital with eleven specialist medical departments. It has over 1,000 staff members, such as doctors, nursing staff, non ward-based nursing staff, house keeping, technical and administrative services, providing around the clock patient care. The Sankt Marien Hospital Buer has seven specialist medical departments, where over sixty doctors provide direct or indirect patient care. The specialist areas covered include orthopaedic and trauma surgery, visceral and general surgery, internal medicine, gynaecology, obstetrics, vascular surgery, diagnostic and interventional radiology, anaesthetics, pain therapy and intensive care.
The St. Augustinus Gelsenkirchen GmbH (a limited company) controls the Marien Hospital Gelsenkirchen and the Sankt Marien Hospital Buer, as well as care facilities run by St. Augustinus Heime GmbH as well as thee St. Augustinus Kindergarten GmbH.
Having more than 2,000 staff overall, St. Augustinus Gelsenkirchen GmbH is one of the biggest employers in Gelsenkirchen.