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The Effects of Scanning with Intelligent Technology on FTE Count

Without question, the staff in the health information management department is one of the hospital’s most valuable resources, and the critical initiatives on the HIM plate are unceasing.  By scanning more efficiently, HIM departments can free up full time equivalents’ (FTEs) time to focus on ICD-10, meaningful use, and other priorities.  Unfortunately, many HIM departments are engaged in scanning processes without clear benchmarks to measure success and make the best use of FTEs.

The type of scanning process a healthcare facility employs will affect the number of FTEs.  More traditional methods tend to require more FTEs because the prep process is time consuming.  In EDCO Health Information Solutions’ experience, intelligent technology combined with best practice workflow can free up FTEs to focus on more critical HIM initiatives.  The chart below compares various scanning methodologies based on an average of three million images per year.

Day forward scanning metrics

Traditionally, healthcare facilities use separator sheets or bar coded forms to automate the scanning process.  Separator sheets are the most time consuming and require an average of 13.5 FTEs per three million images per year. This process is labor intensive and requires HIM staff to insert bar coded sheets throughout the patient chart in order to index to the document level.  If a healthcare facility chooses to use bar coded forms, typically they are never completely bar coded because loose documents without bar codes continue to trickle into the department.  On average, a healthcare facility may be 85 percent bar coded and use about 8.25 FTEs per three million images per year.  During this process, HIM staff must check each sheet for bar codes.  If a bar code is missing, a sticker or separator sheet must be applied so the chart can be indexed to the document level.  If the bar code is misread, it must be manually indexed by hospital staff.

In comparison, healthcare facilities using intelligent technology with best practice workflow should average 1.5 FTEs per million images scanned per year.  For example, a 500-bed hospital that was about 60 percent bar coded was scanning about eight million images per year using 23 FTEs.  By implementing day forward scanning with Solarity™ technology, they were able to:

  • Increase scanning to roughly 10.5 million images per year (8 million images a year plus an additional 2.5 million computer output to laser disk (COLD) and trash images).
  • Decrease average turnaround time from 72 hours to 13 hours.
  • Eliminate their need for third shift staffing.
  • Improve downstream processes and reduced their DNFB.

Additionally, Solarity guarantees 24 hour turnaround time, so HIM departments don’t have to worry about falling behind because staff are sick or on vacation.

HIM staff are valuable and so is their time; spend it on more critical initiatives than scanning.  To find out how intelligent technology and best practice workflow can impact your HIM department by freeing up FTE time, contributing to improved patient care, and speeding up the revenue cycle, consult with an EDCO team member during a free onsite assessment.  Out of respect for your valuable time, EDCO limits our onsite assessment to an hour.

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