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The Case for Custom Data Capture

Big data offers big potential for healthcare organizations. Risk & Insurance describes this expanding resource as the “new microscope” for health practices, allowing them to zero in on improved patient outcomes with enhanced analytic tools.

Leading this charge for change are electronic health records (EHRs) — digital data that ostensibly improve the ability of medical professionals to assess client conditions and create comprehensive databases. The challenge? Most data isn’t inherently digital — paper forms remain a common data capture mechanism for most healthcare organizations. As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while the shift from physical forms to electronic records seems simple, “it actually is complex and often underappreciated by entities designing forms.” 

The result is a medical forms mandate that actively damages diagnostic delivery rather than assisting assessment efforts. How do healthcare companies prepare for the future of patient data processing without slowing service to a crawl?


Turn Up the Volume

As the scale and scope of EHR requirements has expanded, so too has the sheer volume of physical information available — and the number of providers available to help manage it.

For example, a recent study published in NatureScalable and accurate deep learning with electronic health records — notes that the volume of health information from two U.S. academic medical centers serving 216,221 adult patients “unrolled into a total of 46,864,534,945 data points, including clinical notes.” While this variety and volume offers substantive benefits to hospitals, local clinics, and outpatient programs, the sheer amount of data capture required across both physical and digital sources can quickly overwhelm even the most diligent medical staff.

Thankfully, providers have emerged to help organizations deal with this data deluge. However, Healthcare IT News reports that the solution sprawl is also an evolving issue. On average, hospitals use 16 disparate EHR platforms to manage the processing and conversion of patient data.

The unsurprising outcome here is fragmentation of forms, creating scattered data across different solutions in differing formats and file types. This forces healthcare professionals to spend time managing information entry instead of addressing patient needs.


Sign on the Dotted Line

Recent data found that for every hour physicians spent with patients, they spent twice as much time doing paperwork. And it gets worse — one analysis of family doctors discovered that successful completion of all forms-related tasks took almost six hours every day, both during and after work.

EHRs were supposedly designed to speed the patient data capture process by providing familiar form fields and simple data sharing from physical sources, so what’s costing all this time? As noted by the AAP piece, there’s a strangely significant symptom, similarity.

While many forms ask for familiar pieces of information including patient histories, particular allergies, or preexisting conditions, their format is similar rather than identical. As a result, data from one form can’t be auto-populated into another, forcing physicians to fill out an entirely new document — for a slightly different description of the same information — and then securely sign this form. 

These slightly-different forms across municipal, state, and federal record-keeping pile up. It’s not hard to see how a doctor’s time is wasted signing similar documents while the output of effective clinical care suffers.


Form and Function

With data volumes increasing, platform diversity expanding, and data entry expectations rising, healthcare organizations need a forms processing engine that streamlines and automates key data capture demands to improve critical outcomes. 

Accusoft’s FormSuite for Structured Forms offers an SDK solution that doesn’t just treat the symptoms of data entry difficulties, but helps resolve root causes by tackling three critical issues:

  • Information Recognition  — Even as digital transformation expectations expand, healthcare organizations still face the challenge of capturing and converting physical form data. Whether the form needs optical character recognition (OCR) with keyboard stroke identification, intelligent character recognition (ICR) to precisely identify hand-printed letters, or optical mark recognition (OMR) for checkboxes and signatures, FormSuite for Structured Forms does it all. 
  • Automated Data CaptureManually collecting and entering data doesn’t just take away valuable time for patient/professional connections, it introduces the potential for human error, especially when data is entered quickly. Reduce the risk with form automation to accurately capture data within specified fields.
  • Customized Document Libraries As noted above, similarity often frustrates the efforts of hospitals and clinics to streamline data capture. FormSuite for Structured Forms solves the problem by letting you create and manage a custom-built library of forms. Developers can add a new template, designate data capture expectations, and FormSuite’s advanced form field detection takes care of the rest.

The current climate of paper-to-EHR processing presents a challenge for the future of data-driven healthcare insight. Lay the groundwork for advanced, automated, and agile medical forms processing with Accusoft’s FormSuite for Structured Forms.