June 24, 2022

Automated Document Processing - Caring for the Healthcare Sector

Healthcare identifies with multiple documentation procedures completed during, pre, and post patient treatment. It makes up for the huge pile of manual processing work that is often put on the shoulders of frontline employees i.e. doctors, nurses, etc. With this blog, we will take a dive into the different types of medical records, associated challenges, and a relevant automated document processing solution to aid the problem.

Healthcare is an important industry that touches so many lives directly. In the U.S. alone the amount of investment made by the government is close to $4.1 trillion (in 2020) for healthcare. It shows the importance of the industry and the amount of critical work they do.

On the flipside, healthcare still predominantly relies on manual data processing. This manual data processing comprises multiple types of medical records. The work of manual processing is often managed by frontline workers such as nurses, doctors, and other supporting staff. The issue at hand is the time consumed in manually processing heaps and heaps of medical documents. This not only adds operational cost to the institution but also erroneous data, missing data, lost data, unsegregated data, and more within the system. These types of issues can be threatening for both the incoming patient’s health and reputation of the institution.

To mitigate this, automated document processing is required. Previously, operations related to document processing relied on manual keying, OCRs, and outsourcing. On the contrary, today we have a complete automation solution for document processing i.e. an Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) platform. Although before extrapolating on what an IDP can do it is essential to understand the types of medical records used, the associated challenges, and what the solution has to offer? Therefore, read ahead to know more…

Primary Medical Records used by Doctors and Patients

There are basically three types of medical records that are used by doctors, patients, or both. These are:

Personal Health Records (PHR)

Any type of health record that is maintained on an individual basis comes under the umbrella of personal health records. These records can be the previous medical history, test reports, blood-sugar checks at home, and more. Often referred to as PHRs, the term is primarily used for health records maintained digitally but contrarily encompasses everything handwritten, or paper-based.

These records are maintained in three formats i.e. on paper, on a device, or on the internet. They provide necessary insights to doctors and patients. These documents talk about the ongoing ailments, the previous healthcare support provided, and anything that may hinder the prescribed treatment for a current condition. For example, often sugar levels of patients are recorded and documented in medical records before any surgical procedures are conducted over them as patients suffering from diabetes can have a slower healing factor viz a viz other patients.

Aggregating this data from the patient, and compiling it to form a definite readable report is an important task that allows the doctors to review the condition in a much more thorough and concise manner. Also, it helps doctors to respond appropriately during an emergency and see through any possible adverse effects.

Electronic Medical Records

With the advent of digitization, a lot of healthcare facilities have started to create EMRs or Electronic Medical Records. These records are kept and maintained within the premises of the institution. Previously, medical records were maintained using files, folders, and cabinets that were difficult to maintain, sort, and search during emergencies. Although with EMRs, the task became a lot easier. Right now, the only hiccup is extracting relevant information from the vast amount of data that is produced and processed.

On the other hand, these medical records also comprise bills and schedules that are produced frequently with each incoming patient. It is an issue that doctors find troublesome to maintain with their ongoing tasks. With an automated document processing solution in place, the process can be made much easier, optimized, and efficient as it can aid the employees in the healthcare industry to process digital and hardcopy medical records without any data errors and with minimal manual intervention.

Electronic Health Records

These are medical records that are maintained to be shared with other associated parties in the healthcare industry. Electronic health records are verified, processed, stored, and shared to all the other healthcare providers sharing the same system. An electronic health record makes it easy for a patient’s doctor to visit his/her previous medical condition. It will also help them determine the best possible care that can be given for the current ailment.

Importance of Maintaining Medical Records

In a recent estimate by the food and drug administration, around 1.5 million people in the U.S. have to suffer injuries because of medical errors annually. Also, a time period study has estimated over 67,000 cases of medical errors have resulted in 414 deaths. All these factors thus underline the importance of managing the medical records in a proper way.

Put differently, proper maintenance of medical records is a necessity for industries such as healthcare where even the slightest of errors can result in conditions such as patient deaths, hefty lawsuits, and medical liabilities to the tune of crores of rupees at times.

Thus, leveraging a document processing automation system can aid the healthcare domain in downsizing the manual workload tremendously. It can even help the nursing staff to record the information much more efficiently without making any errors along with empowering the staff to react to any emergency situation better and help both doctors & patients with timely provision of data.

Challenges in Medical Records Documentation

There are multiple challenges that are associated with medical records documentation. Some of the most common ones are mentioned below:

Handwritten Documents: Healthcare still deals with a host of handwritten documents. For an ordinary OCR, it is impossible to collect data from a handwritten document while an IDP is completely capable of doing it.

Erroneous Documents: With so many data points to collect and input into the system, the chances of entering erroneous data within the system is high. Since it is often the case with medical records, it is essential to keep a steady record of the data without any errors considering its importance during diagnosis and providing relevant healthcare.

Missing Documents: There are stacks of documentation that are created. It leads to poor management often resulting in missing documents and important data.

Subjective Data Documentation: In documents, there is a lot of subjective data that is not recorded and often comprises a few lines or paragraphs that are important to record. Despite the significance, these are often left unprocessed considering the magnitude of work they add during manual processing.

Wrong Abbreviations/ Medical Coding: Healthcare departments use multiple abbreviations and medical codes to signify a condition and make documentation less lengthy. With manual data entry, these entries often get errors that are later on reflected during the ongoing treatment or claims processing.

Inadequate Input of Forms/Charts: With monotonous work of data entry, the staff often ends up putting wrong information in the wrong form or chart.

Other Challenges…

There are a series of challenges which employees working in the healthcare sector face. A few common ones include-

  • Data Entry
  • Data collation into tables from different sources such as Excel, CSV files, etc
  • General Documentation
  • Treatment documentation
  • Documents for patients education
  • Retrieval of lab results
  • Retrieval of diagnostics
  • Accessing the electronic charts and its content
  • Capability to access prior health records
  • Documentation for discharge and updates

What is Intelligent Document Processing? How does it help in Medical Records Documentation?

An IDP or an Intelligent Document Processing platform is used for processing documents as it gives the medical staff the capability to extract and verify data from structured, semi-structured and unstructured documents in bulk.

Backed by proprietary technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision, an IDP platform aids healthcare workers process large volumes of data quickly with zero errors.

With an automated document processing platform as an IDP, it is possible to pre-process, verify, and extract data from both handwritten and scanned documents. It allows integration with an EHR system, and feeds data to it directly. Having an IDP onboard can not only help the medical sector speed up their process immensely but also take away the tiring task of manual data processing without any errors.

What is VisionERA? What Role can it Play in Medical Records Processing?

VisionERA is the latest Intelligent Document Processing platform. It is a smart AI-based document processing solution that can be molded as per the use case. VisionERA allows custom DIY workflows and documentation. Also, the inbuilt AI-engine helps it to learn and evolve using continuous feedback loop mechanism & human-in-the-loop feature.

Adding to it, the platform hosts a variety of features such as data extraction from handwritten or scanned documents, images, etc. It even offers contextual auto correction of data, industry beating table detection system, plug-n-play, etc. VisionERA is even loaded with a smarts insights board that provides all the useful KPIs to work with.

In other words, it is a complete end-to-end document processing solution that seamlessly integrates with multiple downstream applications such as ERP, SAP, EHRs, mails, messages, etc. which allows the data to be automatically stored within the infrastructure.

Concluding Words

With the frontline workers working as the backend support staff, it becomes difficult to sail two boats at the same time. The hectic manual work of document processing and providing the patients with relevant care are two coins of the same facet. Having an automated document processing system such as VisionERA can help the medical sector speed up the time for accurate data extraction, verification, storage, and access. It can also aid in creating necessary bandwidth for nurses, doctors, etc. to provide sufficient healthcare to the ailing patients without being over-burdened with tons of medical documents to take care of.

Want to see what we can do for the healthcare domain? Talk to our experts now.

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