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Are You Using An Outdated Medical Record Indexing Method?

We outline the old method of indexing medical records that is commonly used, along with several of the problems that have resulted from its use.

Published on:
May 12, 2022

Internet-enabled digital tools have enabled people to record, organize and retrieve information of all kinds with increasing ease and speed. For insurance carriers, healthcare providers, legal firms, and third-party evaluators, these tools have not translated into the same benefits when it comes to medical records.  

Below we outline the old method of indexing medical records that is commonly used, along with several of the problems that have resulted from its use. If this process sounds like yours, don’t worry—many professionals are having difficulty processing medical records the same way.  

The Old Medical Record Indexing Method

Step 1. Collect & Digitize Relevant Medical Records

Most organizations’ process starts by collecting all a claimant's relevant medical records. These documents are either in a physical or digital format. If they are in a physical format (i.e., paper) they will need to be scanned or digitized. While many documents may be in a digital format, they may need to be converted into a uniform structure (usually a PDF, Microsoft Word .doc file, or Google Doc).

Steps 2. Identify, Organize, and Summarize  

Once all documents have been digitized into the desired file formats, the process of identifying each document can begin. This is often the most laborious part of the process. Each document needs to be labelled according to its content (title, author, contents, date etc.) and entered into a separate index table. From there a written summary is produced for the end-user to aid them in understanding and navigating medical documents.

Steps 3. Review & Revise

Each document will also need to be checked for whether it is a duplicate of a medical record that has already been processed.

With all the relevant documents in the medical brief identified, the index then needs to be sorted into the desired order and any manual navigation directions added (tabs, flags etc.).

Finally, any new documents that need to be added after the initial collecting stage will need to be checked against, and fit into the existing index, often requiring extensive reorganization. At this point it is essential that the duplicate checking process is robust and accurate.  

Problems with the Old Medical Record Indexing Method  

Accuracy Issues

One major issue with manual medical record indexing is accuracy. Since the task of visually sorting and entering these documents by hand is performed by a human, there is inherently a risk of errors occurring, such as:  

• Misidentification of documents

• Failure to include documents

• Adding duplicate files

• Deleting documents by accident

• Valuable information lost due to file type conversion or compatibility issues

• Sorting errors (i.e., non-chronological or non-alphabetical order)

• Spelling or grammar errors in summaries

Speed Issues

While the steps involved in the overall process may seem simple, when the daily volume of briefs that need to be processed are considered—it becomes a much more daunting task. Considering that medical briefs may contain anywhere from one to well over a hundred documents, briefs can often run up to 10,000 pages. This process of sorting a single medical brief can take an employee multiple hours, or days, to simply organize. When an organization has a large volume of medical briefs to process, this becomes a serious burden on employees and by extension a bottleneck for the organization.

Inconsistent Formatting & Quality Issues

Employees that process medical briefs can vary in their:  

• Formatting preferences  

• Level of technical capabilities  

• Level of understanding of clinical terminology  

• Attention to detail  

• Commitment to quality

As a result, the format and overall quality of the final document can vary greatly. Another consequence of these errors are indexes that are difficult to navigate, reference and ultimately read—leading to further inefficiencies in processing the claimant’s file after the index has been completed.

Is there a better way to process and index medical records?  

If your organization is using the old method of indexing medical records and is interested in modern indexing tools to increase the speed, accuracy, and quality of output of your process, you can learn more about the Wisedocs platform or contact our team directly.  

Jenna Earnshaw
Head of Revenue at Wisedocs

Jenna Earnshaw is the Head of Revenue at Wisedocs. She has a strong expertise in go-to-market strategy and driving pipeline for tech companies. In her free time, you can find Jenna reading, podcasting, and supporting the startup community.

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