No More Paper Charts in an EMR

I found an apt description of what happens in a paper chart:

And as far as that stack of filing – too often it went undone. It would pile up for a month at a time, despite my constant admonitions. When they finally got around to filing, they would just stick the papers in the chart thinking that when the patient came in for the next appointment the papers could be placed in the correct slot within the chart. But that often didn’t get done, either. I would see a patient and discover lab results and letters just loosely adrift within the chart.

And although it seems like filing would be an easy task, for some reason, very few people can perform it well. When my staff did take the time to actually file the papers, they often put them in the wrong spots. Correspondence would be in the lab results sections, x-rays would be in correspondence, and just about any combination possible
-medpundit’s post

I’m not sure why this is the case, but tomorrow I must show this description to my dear friend in HIM(medical records). The post does also describe some of the downsides of EMR’s and scanning. However, I think a lot of the problems that she describes can be avoided with a proper implementation of an EMR. Not to mention that scanner prices have come way down. Automatic feed scanners are relatively cheap these days.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Actually, I believe people are using terms that confuse most people. An EMR or a practice management application in a clinic will not immediately remove paper, but may in the future. You added a comment about lower costs related to scanners which is good, but a scanner plus appropriate software can run $8,000 to $30,000. Services to establish document imaging & workflow in HIM can be a very big capital investment, but is the way to go before the big step of total electronic/digital environment in 3 to 5 years (maybe). Some companies like SolCom ( also help with the outsourced services to start, all at a price per page. The cost is more like 10 – 15 cents per page – not, $1-$2 as stated in the article.

  • Good point about the scanning software. Although I’ve found that if you properly implement your EMR system there isn’t a need for expensive scanning software. You can reduce the paper load and scanning to a point that free(or bundled) scanning applications suffice.

    Thanks for the info on the price change. It is an expense to outsource the scanning, but is a good service in many situations. Just make sure you know how to get to those charts from your EMR. That’s an important process to understand before outsourcing.

  • Remember, if you scan patient documents or insurance cards, scans must not be placed in any common folder. They have to be kept separate and encrypted and, usually, become part ol the patients record. This means you have to use an EMR software system that works with scanners. Most do. However, if you are using Terminal Services or Citrix, then you will also have to be able to use yours scanners from your work station and scan directly into the hosted application on the Terminal Services or Citrix server. For that you will need to purchase the 3rd party product called RemoteScan ( ) since without it you cant scan with Terminal Server, and the scanning that is part of the new version of Citrix just is too unreliable and only works with a few models of scanners.

  • Carl,
    I haven’t looked at the laws recently, but I don’t remember off hand and law that states you can’t scan patient documents or insurance cards to a common folder. Why wouldn’t this be allowed? Do you know what the law says about this specifically?

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