The healthcare delivery system of United States requires hospital staff and physician offices to keep records of all the patients for at least 7 to 10 years, which includes keeping a record of all the visits of the patient. Moreover, as healthcare is paid for by insurance companies and not by the patient, in case of any claim rejection a copy of the medical record is essential for review and for submission.
What is Indexing?
Keeping the medical records of patients organized and safe is one of the major responsibilities of any hospital or clinical staff; it is not just mandatory but also has a specific significance in physician billing. Indexing medical records helps in organizing the data and storing the information of patients that may include their demographic data, contact details, diagnosis, drug therapy and other confidential information gathered over time. With the help of indexing, it is possible to keep the records at one place from where it is easier to retrieve anytime it is needed by the hospital staff or the healthcare provider.
Types of Indexing:
In the pre-EHR era, all the medical records were stored in the form of paper documents. There were many pitfalls with this type of record storage. Some of them are:
- Adding paper documents of a new visit in the existing file
- Lots of Storage space for the paper documents
- Threat from natural disasters – fire, hurricanes, flooding and pests like rats
- Cumbersome process of records retrieval
With the advent of the EHR and its widespread adoption since the HITECH Act, most of the records are now available in the digital format. Only records that need to be given to the patient or to be submitted for medical claims billing need to be printed on paper. With EHR and digitization, all the major obstacles mentioned earlier were negated. It is also easier to make copies and store them at a separate place for data redundancy and business continuity.
Is Indexing redundant?
Indexing of medical records did not become redundant with the advent of the EHR. There were tons of paper documents that needed to be scanned and indexed in such a manner that there is continuity between the paper and electronic records for the same patient. There are several online storage and document management companies that have fully exploited the ‘cloud’ for such applications.
Indexing has only become much more complex in that the old and new records need to be arranged seamlessly. Though there is a cost associated with this type of complex indexing, in the long run it has resulted in greater savings for the Hospitals and individual providers who now have a dependable storage option that can give them the information in a few minutes.
Hurricane Katrina and the resultant flooding of New Orleans destroyed lots of paper documents including health records. That was probably the biggest wake-up call to Hospitals and individual providers to convert to EHR and the digital format. But the mandate of keeping records for 7-10 years, necessitated the advent of technologies that can seamlessly integrate scanned images of the paper documents with current EHR records. This has only resulted in gains as the physician billing denial rates have dropped.
About the Author:
Tanya Gill is the Public Relations Manager for ecare India based in Chennai, India. She has wide knowledge and experience in the medical industry. ecare India is a leading medical billing company offering end-end medical billing, charge entry, offshore medical billing, healthcare outsourcing, physicians billing services and is backed by extensive domain expertise, latest technology and dynamic compliance norms. ecare is HIPAA compliant and is the first Indian medical billing company to get ISO 27001: 2005 certified for information security management. ecare is also ISO 9001:2008 certified for quality management. By providing outsourced medical billing services, ecare makes it feasible.