Sometimes It’s the Little Things – Scanner Maintenance

There are a lot of features and functions in healthcare IT that don’t get talked about very much. The reason they don’t get talked about is because they aren’t “sexy.” While many of the healthcare IT tasks that need to be done aren’t “sexy” to talk about, they’re extremely important if you want your end users to be happy.

Check out this post on Scary Health Care IT Upgrades We Don’t Talk About to see some of the less exciting, but incredibly important IT tasks that have to be done in healthcare. Much like it’s not very exciting to talk about SAN Upgrades or core switch firmware upgrades, you very rarely see someone talk about scanner maintenance. However, it can make your user’s IT experience miserable if you don’t handle it properly.
The reason most IT people forget about scanner maintenance is that they rarely have to scan much in their jobs. As an IT professional, you and your colleagues exchange information electronically and so while you might scan something on occasion, you aren’t scanning paper daily. With such a low scanning load, you usually don’t have a high volume scanner on your desk that needs to be maintained. Plus, even if you did, you wouldn’t scan enough to need to do maintenance. The opposite is true for many in healthcare who find themselves scanning paper into the EHR every day.

I admit that I know this to be the case, because I was the naive IT support person who didn’t realize that regular scanner maintenance was important. In fact, I didn’t discover this until my HIM staff started complaining about the scanner not working very well. That’s the other key to this problem. Unlike other maintenance, a poorly maintained scanner still works but just not very well. The scanner’s ability to feed in the paper, not jam, etc slowly deteriorates over time. So, the end user doesn’t usually ask for help until after they’ve dealt with the “finicky” scanner for months.

In most cases, it’s not the scanners fault at all. Instead, the problem is poor scanner maintenance. The great part is that this is an easy problem to solve. I won’t dig into the detail of how to maintain your scanner. Spend 5-10 minutes in your scanner’s book (find it online if you through it out) and it will tell you what you need to do. Also, not all scanners can be cleaned, but if you have a scanner like the Canon DR-C125 or equivalent, then a little maintenance keeps them running better.

The maintenance on a scanner is usually quite simple. You just clean out the inside and change out the rollers after so many scans (varies depending on the scanner). In many ways it’s like a car. You know what happens when you don’t change the oil in your car. It’s bad news. The same is true when you don’t maintain your scanner.

You don’t want to hear from the HIM or nursing staff when you forgot to “change the oil” on their scanner. That’s not pretty and often requires a box of donuts. The nice part is that with regular scanner maintenance, these scanners will last a long time under a heavy load. Do you practice good scanner hygiene in your organization?

Sponsored by Canon U.S.A., Inc.  Canon’s extensive scanner product line enables businesses worldwide to capture, store and distribute information.

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.