Planning a DIY Scanning Project?

paperRecently I was asked to finish a client’s DIY (Do It Yourself) scanning project, midstream, so I thought I’d tell the story in hopes that if you DIY, you can avoid these pitfalls.

My client is a Doctor who had retired and was in the process of closing up his practice. As he was shutting down, he very charitably allowed his staff to change gears from seeing patients to scanning charts. His staff appreciated the “parachute” job while they were seeking new jobs.  The doctor wanted to clean up the old paper charts and get them locked down, in an electronic storage system. There were 3 people, working on 3 different computers and they scanned about 10 boxes of charts in 3 months. Soon enough, everyone found new jobs and embarked on their ‘next chapter’, leaving the task partially finished. In an attempt to help out, his retired practice manager took all of the paper charts to her house, so she and her daughter could finish. They had 53 boxes left to do. Once they were finished with 2 or 3 boxes, they’d had enough fun. So they called Modern Image in to help solve the problem.

Here’s where things got tricky. Since there were 3 people working on the project, there were 3 different ways the files were named. That makes the file names inconsistent and inefficient to use. The image quality was very bad on one scanner, and inconsistent on all 3. Images have not been de-skewed or properly rotated, meaning they are upside down and sideways. One set of charts is so blurry, they may not be of much use anyway. (But those paper charts have been shredded). One machine did not apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR), rendering them un-searchable. Files were named both “First Name” Last Name” and “Last Name”, “First Name”, making it virtually impossible to properly sort the scanned charts on the computer. The files were spread out across 3 computers, 2 flash drives and 2 external hard drives – in an attempt to “get them into one place” Not to mention the lax and non HIPAA-compliant way the physical charts had been handled, transported, scanned, and stored.

So we picked up the remaining 53 boxes, the 3 computers, 2 flash drives and 2 external hard drives. We scanned the charts and assimilated all files onto both external hard drives (one in his office, in a safe and one in a bank safe deposit box) We cleaned up the inconsistent naming so that they sort accurately and are organized properly. In under one month. We scanned and shredded all hard drives and paper files.

He is now HIPAA complaint, the charts are organized and searchable and he no longer has paper charts to secure or scan. We completed the project for one-tenth what it would have cost to DIY, with much better accuracy and delivery. We understood the problems, proposed a solution, executed the project and cleaned up a mess.

Problem solved.

Things to consider if you plan a DIY scanning project:

  1. Set aside uninterrupted time for your staff to devote exclusively to scanning
  2. Have them agree on naming conventions, file organization and storage/assimilation plans
  3. Check and test all scanning settings to ensure OCR, de-skewed and image-corrected images. Most scanners have advanced options, if you know where to look.
  4. Have someone check the quality of all work to ensure consistency and usability of images
  5. Set expectations – timeline, budget, resources – to measure progress
  6. Consider the opportunity cost of having key personnel or unauthorized eyes performing a sensitive task that can be outsourced
  7. Get an estimate on your project so you understand your options.

We are here to help, whichever path you choose. We can advise or execute and help solve your paper problems.

David – David McDonough, President, Modern Image Atlanta