Adobe Acrobat and Medical Record Archiving

As part of my daily work routine, I archive medical records. This process involves various bits and pieces – scanning the file, ensuring data integrity, loading to the medical record server, etc. The tool that I use is Adobe Acrobat. Actually, I recommend using an off-the shelf scanning application for any serious archiving project.

Whether it is the Neat Scanner (out of Philadelphia) or Acrobat, there is a level of sophistication that these tools have that borders on the uncanny. Acrobat will perform pretty high level optimization, and will render most text legible and searchable (which also means that it is indexable). While many medical record systems come with a module that will allow scanning into the record, I have never found a built-in scanning system that is worth using. For archiving or any type of record processing, it is truly best to use a tool built for the job, not something attached in order to meet a Federal requirement (medical record systems need to have scanning ability, but nothing says it is mandated to be great).

I think the key is that Acrobat, the Neat Co., and other data processing tools are industry standards. If you need a scanner that will automatically process your documents, go to the Neat Co. Acrobat will process, optimize, color scan, and properly handle documents. The medical record system we use, out of the box, will barely scan anything into JPG format – and forget about extracting those documents for later use without jumping through hoops.

If medical record systems want to actually build a useful component, they need to find an industry standard or partner with a document management corporation. This is actually an undervalued approach; I suspect that most companies hesitate due to cost. The payoff, on the other hand, could be well worth it. As medical records are barely regulated, this would be a method to establish market dominance and also put pressure on the competition (i.e. having a fully-functional document processing module is a great leverage point when negotiating with Federal and industry regulators).

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