You visit your primary care physician. He or she types notes into a tablet, then imports your medical record, already scanned from its paper source. Meanwhile, the front desk has scanned your medical card for insurance and prescription purposes.
After determining you need further consultation, the doctor sends your information via email, secure cloud or Dropbox to a referred specialist. By the time you arrive, the specialist is versed on your situation, and may also have consulted with colleagues who have also seen your physician’s notes.
Science fiction? Not at all. It’s starting to happen now.
“I think it’s still forming,” says John Capurso, President and CEO of Visioneer, a pioneer in document and mobile scanning for 20 years. “People are being more approachable and aggressive in using technology that way. I think things like seeking a second opinion will drive it, since the second doctor will want to see records and notes from the first specialist. Also, people are much more mobile today.”
Welcome to the marriage of digital technology and scanning. While not a sexy technology in the healthcare and imaging world, it is one of the most vital. And we will see much more. Bearing that in mind, we decided to check in with Capurso, since Visioneer scanning devices are used throughout the healthcare spectrum — including hospitals (for example, Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta), insurance companies (Blue Cross), and equipment providers (McKesson).
“The common theme here is that paper has just not yet diminished in this industry,” Capurso says. “The need to capture documents is an urgent, ongoing matter.”
Capurso lays out the status of document scanning — and why mobile scanning is quickly becoming a killer backoffice medical technology.
INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY TODAY: How have your scanners helped to streamline the hospital admissions process?
JOHN CAPURSO: Streamlining the admissions process focuses first on scanning the ID and medical cards in a secure, legible way. The alternative is hand input of account numbers, which is subject to error. Among other things, that will delay hospital reimbursement by insurance, so there’s definitely a cost advantage (to scanning). Handling it electronically is far more accurate. It’s also more convenient. Things like that are extremely valuable to admissions, insurance, and accounts receivable departments.
I&T TODAY: What about image enhancement technology?
John Capurso: That’s a major focus. The documents coming from outside are a big variable. You don’t know what quality they are, or what condition they’re in. Sometimes, they come on canary-colored paper, or they’re not printed dark enough. When you scan them, you get fallout … not the best imaging. With image enhancement, we make perfect pages from imperfect originals. Every page comes out crystal clear. That eliminates the need to scan documents a second time with adjusted settings. We put them in a format the hospital prefers, which streamlines the process tremendously.
I&T TODAY: It also increases the convenience for patients and families by the fact personnel can take information at bedside.
JC: Absolutely. This plays into the health of the patient himself or herself. They’re not stressed by having to do this at inopportune times, but rather, when they’re comfortably back in their bed, in their room, maybe with family around to help.
I&T TODAY: Are these scanners also deployed into the larger healthcare family, such as rehab centers, physical therapy centers, and doctors’ offices?
John Capurso: They are, and I would even go beyond that. They’re used not only by hospitals and care providers, but also by insurance companies, like Blue Cross, and medical equipment providers, like McKesson. All companies that participate in the healthcare business have much different document capture needs. They’re approaching different parts of the problem from different angles — as a supplier, provider, patient.
I&T TODAY: In which other aspects of the healthcare industry do you see scanners becoming more prevalent?
JC: The mobile area will be a very high-ground area moving forward. Many doctors are no longer taking notes on paper; they’re typing them into laptops and tablets. They access documents scanned from their tablets and laptops. They communicate and transfer patient notes and records from one medical facility to another in that manner, from one doctor to another. Once that data is moving around openly, between devices — and when I say ‘openly,’ I also mean ‘securely’ — there will be less paper involved. It has to be captured. So the mobile environment will drive more capture of paper.
I&T TODAY: Many healthcare professionals, facilities and businesspeople have accumulated five generations of data — print documents, computer files, PDFs, CDs, thumb and external drives, mobile files, and now cloud. How do they consolidate 30 or 40 years worth of data? How you address this dilemma with your business and enterprise customers?
JC: We blur the boundaries between electronic and digital data, and paper. In the end, we’re looking for quickly accessible information. When you scan paper documents, it becomes live data. Then it’s no different from digital documents. It’s suddenly changeable, can be edited, just as alive. We encourage general business users to capture their paper data so it is accessible, can be searched, and not locked away in a filing cabinet. Our more enterprise-related customers are being driven to digitize their documents by cost, regulation, and sheer volume of information. We seek to understand what their document is going to do, and what they’re going to do with it. We have to make that easy, reliable and high quality.
— Robert Yehling