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When written documents and electronic health records collide

In recent years, few regulatory changes have caused a bigger stir than the electronic health records mandate.

In recent years, few regulatory changes have caused a bigger stir than the electronic health records mandate.

The mandate – originally part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – called on health care providers and hospital systems to fully embrace electronic health records. The goals were improving quality and safety of care, reducing disparities and inconsistencies, better engaging patients, increasing care coordination and ensuring security and privacy.

Two years past the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline, the initiative has been largely successful, at least from an adoption standpoint. According to HealthIT.gov, 74 percent of office-based physicians and 97 percent of hospitals possess certified EHR systems.

These numbers represent dramatic increases over pre-mandate EHR adoption rates and show widespread acceptance of digital medical records.

But there’s a wrinkle. Health care facilities exist in the real world – not the digital one. That means there will always be some records and forms that must start on paper, rather than on a screen.

Integrating these into the EHR system is mission-critical, as a highly accessible “single source of truth” is the entire point.

So, how does a health care facility go about digitizing new paper records? It’s more complex than just scanning.

Two main considerations when integrating paper with EHR are correctly designing the forms and trusting the pros.

The first step is form design, of which a well-crafted one:

Encourages the user to include all necessary information.

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