It’s nice to think that with an EHR in place, healthcare could finally be paperless. Besides the fact that the EHR is a paper printing machine, the amount of paper that’s brought through the door by patients is astounding. The obvious solution in every healthcare organization is to scan all of that paper into the EHR. Not to mention the need to scan insurance cards, drivers licenses, etc. Needless to say, I learned very early on in my journey into healthcare the importance of scanning.
In fact, I’m sorry to say that I had to learn some scanning lessons the hard way. The first lesson was that all in one scanner, printer, copiers are great for home or occasional business use. Forget about them for your front desk, HIM, nurses station, or any other healthcare scanning environment. The scanners weren’t designed for high volume (or even moderate volume) and you’ll burn through the scanner so quickly that your staff will start complaining about the quality of scanning even on a new machine. They’re fine for a couple scans a week, but that’s almost never what’s needed in healthcare.
Given this experience, I’ve suggested for a long time the need to really invest in your scanner technology. By invest, that usually meant spending $1000 or more on a scanner that can handle the load that healthcare requires. Plus, it provides the speed needed to scan the stack of papers your patients share with you when they arrive at the office.
These scanners were excellent with full duplex scanning and could easily be integrated into your EHR software using the now standard Twain driver. As long as you did your regular maintenance, these scanners are workhorses that were an excellent solution for most of healthcare’s scanning needs.
Notice that I said most. About a decade ago, I first ran into a scanning problem with a medical practice I was helping. We’d implemented the EHR and installed a high speed scanner in the back office where most of the scanning was done, but then we started talking about the scanning needs of the front desk. The $1000 high speed scanner felt like overkill for those needs. Especially since most of the intake paperwork was done electronically. Plus, the front desk often needed a flat bed scanner for the occasional odd shaped scan. Adding the flat bed functionality took the scanner from a $1000 price tag to $1500.
While the $1500 scanner certainly worked fine, it was kind of bulky for the front desk and it felt like you were buying a Ferrari for someone who didn’t need to go over 30 mph. I looked around for other options and never found one so the medical practice was stuck with paying for more than they needed.
The good news is that I just learned that Xerox has come out with a scanner for just this problem. Visioneer (Xerox’s partner for scanners) sent me their new Xerox Duplex Combo Scanner so I could see if this was indeed the case. I’m happy to report that the scanner provided just the right mix of speed, footprint, and quality that I started looking for a decade ago. Plus, the MSRP on the product is only $269 which is a much better price for those who want to spend as little as necessary for scanning locations that don’t need a high production item.
At that price point, healthcare organizations can stop requiring large numbers of staff to share a single high volume scanner and instead buy 3 of them which can be spread throughout the clinic or hospital. I was also surprised that such a small device didn’t suffer when it came to speed (25 ppm / 50 ipm @300 dpi scanning) and could handle a daily duty cycle of 1500 pages per day. That’s fast enough that it won’t slow down the check in or check out process at the front desk.
While this doesn’t often matter when the scanner is integrated with your EHR software, the software that comes with the scanner is excellent and I really like the OneTouch scanning option on the device as well. I think most scanners come with this type of technology and software these days, but I’ve found some of them to be more confusing than others to actually use.
The ADF (document feeder) only holds 35 pages which can be a problem in healthcare where patients can literally show up with stacks of paper. However, that’s kind of not the point of this scanner. In those instances, you can use your high volume scanner in the back.
The other thing I found interesting about the new Xerox Duplex Combo Scanner was around the consumables. As I mentioned above, if you do good maintenance on the consumable rollers and your ADF pads, then your high volume scanners can be great workhorses for your organization for a long time. The problem is that far too many people don’t do proper maintenance and the doctors, nurses, and front desk staff that regularly use the devices don’t even know that regular maintenance is needed or possible. Instead, they just think the scanner is starting to break down and they need a new one. However, they know that getting a new one is unlikely and so they just deal with a sub par experience.
While you still can do maintenance on the Xerox Duplex Combo Scanner, they designed it with the idea that most people won’t need to do maintenance on the device. This seems appropriate for a device that’s in a lower volume scanning area and is unlikely to get maintenance given all the priorities IT staff’s face in healthcare.
All in all, I was impressed by how this Xerox scanner had been refined scanner for healthcare. It’s not the end all be all solution for all of healthcare’s scanning needs, but I think it brings a fast, low-cost, small footprint solution that could save a bunch of healthcare organizations time and money when it comes to scanning.
What do you think of this new device? How does it compare to the other solutions you’ve found on the market? We’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments or on social media with @HealthcareScene.