Dealing with Old Paper Charts in an EHR World

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Such a well done video by ChartCapture. Plus, it intrigued me enough to get me interested in what they had to offer. I think I’d actually met them at the Canon booth at HIMSS before, but somehow I did’t capture the full simplicity of their chart scanning solution until I saw this video demonstrating how their solution works:

I love really simple and straightforward appliances and chart capture is the perfect solution for an appliance like this. It’s beautiful to have a plug and play appliance with no server, no setup, and just ready to go without having to get IT to make it a priority.

As I talked to Scott Ferguson from ChartCapture, I asked him when most customers chose to start using their product during an EHR go live. He responded, “Most customers typically drop us in 90 days prior to go live (or as soon as the have the “realization moment”).”

I love the concept of the realization moment and anyone who’s worked on an EHR implementation knows what I’m talking about. It’s that moment during the EHR implementation that the users ask the question “what about the paper charts?” For some reason many people just think that the EHR vendor will somehow magically just deal with the paper charts. The realization moment is when they realize that they’re going to figure out what to do with the paper charts.

I’ve long been a proponent of scanning in your old paper charts. I still love the outsourcing option because some of the quality they can provide in the scanning process. However, that option is cost prohibitive to many. So, an appliance like ChartCapture is a nice alternative solution for scanning your paper charts at a lower cost. Just be sure if you choose to scan in house that you make sure you hire detail oriented people for the job. It’s a monotonous job and requires detailed effort to do it right.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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.


  • It isn’t just the paper charts, its the paper coming in from other sources. Especially the damn fax machine.

    After 10 years of doing using an EMR, I can tell you that no matter how good you are with EMR (using it and having a good vendor), it will not make faxes better.

    Scanning in the whole stinkin’ chart just means you have an electronic filing cabinet. That’s not an EMR/EHR. And you have big image files, which take up a lot of space and need lots of memory.

    This is NOT interoperability.

  • Sue Ann,
    Do you use a Fax Server that’s connected with your EHR? I think that makes faxes a lot better than before. Still not ideal, but until Direct happens and then hopefully full HIE it’s better than a regular fax machine.

    There are other things like clinical data abstraction which can be done with old paper charts to make them more than big image files, but that’s cost prohibitive to many. Although, I’d still rather have the paper charts scanned electronic images than trying to find the old paper version of the chart.

  • Well, we have an interface for labs, and there is a fax server, but they are TIFFs. And our faxes drop automatically into a folder to be processed by MAs, nurses, and business side, but…

    The problem is, all these are STILL IMAGES, not interoperability.

    Clinical abstraction is where we have to look at it and decide what’s important, which we do. And this happens with EOBs as well.

    We have KHIN, but many practices don’t want to use it — “Technofear” is rampant.

  • Have you looked at Direct Project and what it can do? I’d be interested to hear what you think of it. Of course, that still requires the sending doctor to send it using Direct. Not something that’s going to change over night, but is happening.

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