New Offices, Less Storage – Condensing Files with Digitization and High Density Storage
For 25 years, a top-rated Washington, DC, pediatric office had served its patients 365 days a year. The practice generated numerous multi-page paper forms and reports for each patient. Patient files were retained in a 300-s.f. storage area, but when the practice moved to new offices, the storage area was reduced to just 160 s.f. Twenty-five years of medical records simply would not fit into the smaller space, and the practice administrators were facing the prospect of storing files offsite – inconvenient, error-prone, and insecure.
Every pediatric patient record had to be maintained and accessible for at least 25 years, whether a child was a local long-term patient or a transitory patient from one of the nearby embassies. The new storage space – nearly 50% smaller than previously – dictated that many patient records would need to be converted to digital format. Others would need to be retained as paper. Determining which documents to image, and which documents to keep as paper, was quite a dilemma. And once the decisions were made, personnel would have to be pulled from their normal tasks to execute the digitization.
Working with the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, the NOS team established parameters to decide which records to image, and which to maintain as paper. The needs analysis found that certain parts of each patient’s file – vaccine records, for example – should be digitally imaged, regardless of the age of the file. The digital records could then be quickly retrieved, reviewed, and shared electronically. Other parameters, such as the age of the file or the type of treatment, determined whether or not a file was to be imaged.
The remaining paper files needed to be readily available to staff. In the old office, the files were kept in top-tab folders in 45 traditional file cabinets. Professional Services Solutions, the NOS documents team, transferred the paper documents to color-coded side tab folders and organized them in a new high density storage system. The space-saving high density system easily fit all the necessary paper files, with room to grow into the future. It even allowed extra space for office supplies. Even better: the files are safe and secure, in compliance with HIPAA regulations.
Now the entire medical staff enjoys fast, easy retrieval of all patient records, whether they’re digital or paper. Instead of struggling with inadequate storage space and hard-to-find patient data, they can focus on delivering award-winning health care to their patients.