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A Healthy Scan

09 September 2010

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has achieved remarkable scanning results in initial testing despite having to handle a variety of different documents in collating patient records, thanks to unique technology offerings from OPEX Corporation.

Electronic document management (EDM) is a hot topic for many types of NHS managers, including clinical, administrative and nursing - not least because of the floor space that can be saved from dumping paper files. But there are multiple benefits that can be derived from implementing a purely electronic data capture and processing system at all points involving direct and indirect patient care via the likes of OPEX technology.

Before a Trust can enjoy the benefits of electronic collation of patient data and its metrics, it has to undertake the digitisation of patients' medical care records. This process is under way at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which was formed in the spring of 2002 from the former Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals NHS Trust and Dewsbury Health Care NHS Trust.

Major factors behind the business case were:

  • Lack of storage space for records and the fact that the new hospitals mentioned above have limited space for storing records
  • The need to access records quickly when a patient was admitted which could not happen in many instances as records were stored off site
  • The desire to achieve financial savings for the trust

As more and more medical record accesses will be carried out on an electronic basis, there will be a reducing requirement for delivery trucks to shuttle un-scanned paper records to the health units concerned.

After consultation with independent business partners Arena for the original precise feasibility study and NHS specialists Plumtree for the successful bid and installation, Mid Yorkshire NHS trust has committed to purchase a minimum of 8 OPEX DS1225m drop-feed scanners for use in their "day forward" scanning of patient records across the Trust. Using the OPEX solution will cost the trust 1.4m less than using traditional scanners over an 8 year period.

In tests undertaken by the Trust and Arena Group, the OPEX DS1225m was measured as processing the highest number of pages per hour compared to alternative brands, and in terms of the end-to-end process, the Opex throughput results are almost three times higher than the other scanners on the market.

The OPEX scanner performed considerably faster overall because files were prepared and scanned in a single operation rather than as separate steps, including extract pages from patient notes folders; split folders to allow scanning as 2x oversized pages; insert patient identified barcode and section separator sheets; page-turn through the file, correcting scanner issues

as found; de-stapling and unfolding folded pages as well as repairing torn ones; detaching test results from mount-sheets, including cutting off adhesive strips where required; splitting booklets and taping small document pages onto carrier sheets.

The outcome of this process is a set of stacked pages ready for the production scanners. Documents fed into the other tested alternatives had to be stacked in the auto-feed device, and the nature of the paperwork created significant double-feed issues for auto-feed scanners. Correction of double-feed issues was the most significant limit on the throughput achieved by each of the scanners.

The OPEX DS1225m was designed to scan documents with little or no preparation. Equipped with a drop feeder, it can scan a wide range of documents straight out of a file folder. Unlike the traditional production scanners the Opex DS1225m is supplied with a PC, touch-screen and integrated desk unit. Instead of the normal stack-loading and automatic feeding, the Opex operator drops each page onto the roller track as that page is removed from the folder – and the roller track allows almost all documents to be fed without requiring carrier sheets or other special preparation.

Of particular note for patient record files is the ability to scan test result pages without having to cut off the sticking remnants. The scanner notably also incorporates doublefeed detection via ultrasonic detectors. This can be over-ridden prior to scanning for a given page - either by an action on the touch screen or on various configurable sensors near the paper handling area.The preferred document rotation and colour/bitonal choices are selected prior to the scan. Both of these options can be chosen for just the next single page or as a 'sticky' option (i.e. until another setting is chosen).

In conclusion, the pilot project revealed that the scanner operations of the OPEX DS1225m worked very successfully in processing high volumes of varied materials contained within patient records.

For further Opex details please call 0161 776 4033; email or visit

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