OPEX: Efficiently improving productivity for a paperless NHS

The principle challenge for UK Hospitals, in light of the call to move to paperless care provision in the NHS, is to essentially convert a huge quantity of legacy paper medical records within their Trust and also be able to competently handle the conversion of paper documents created daily by virtue of outpatient clinic visits and inpatient note sets, in part utilising the £1.3 billion “Paperless 2020” funding which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt first announced in February 2015.

This mammoth task historically would have required a physical footprint the size of an aircraft hangar, requiring a small army of additional staff to work through the labour intensive document ‘prep’ process in advance of the arduous task of trying to image these records using expensive hi-speed document scanners not originally designed to handle aged, damaged and stapled content. Not an ideal scenario!

OPEX is fast becoming the dominant force in digital conversion of hard copy patient files within the complex arena of scanning NHS medical records, seeing the key UK service providers selecting OPEX Falcon as the scanner of choice for capturing patient files. NHS hospitals themselves also realise the labour saving benefits achieved through the Falcon, seeing over 25 trusts and health boards already adopting the OPEX model as their preferred solution, principally to help them process ‘day forward’ physical medical notes utilising the Trust’s own in-house records management staff. By creating a unique solution that’s significantly different to all other hardware manufacturers in this space, OPEX has identified and solved the key issues surrounding this monumental task faced by an already overstretched NHS.

REDUCING LABOUR REQUIREMENTS

Utilising state-of-the-art combined drop feed and bulk feed technologies, the OPEX Falcon allows a single operator to scan direct from patient medical records folders without the traditional upfront, labour-intensive and costly document preparation. This unique one-touch secure process developed by OPEX is revolutionising the way that UK medical records are now being scanned – through virtually eliminating slow and labour-intensive separate document preparation altogether, so allowing the operator to scan and index medical files at a rate up to 3 times faster than a traditional ‘prep only’ process.

Embedded Kofax VRS technology automatically performs multiple essential background tasks including content-based rotation, automatic colour detection, background smoothing and image enhancement – all aimed at speeding up the scanning process whilst simultaneously delivering a high-quality end product.

OPEX’s innovative one-touch scanning approach significantly increases process speed while creating a unique capability to manage information direct from source, being the physical medical record file or folder. Offering a fully auditable environment whist maintaining transaction integrity, OPEX’s Falcon document scanning workstations allow Hospital and Healthcare customers to attack the most difficult and daunting workflow challenges on-site.

SMALLER PHYSICAL FOOTPRINT

When choosing OPEX Falcon to form the bedrock of a hospital’s digitized medical records process, the significantly reduced labour profile means that finding a home within the squeezed hospital environment becomes a considerably simpler undertaking. When NHS Trusts and hospitals compare potential solutions, the conclusion quickly realized is that in order to compete with each OPEX Falcon, a traditional ‘prep then scan’ process requires 3 x preppers sat at desks, plus an additional desk or similar footprint production scanner required to maintain an image output aligning with that prep team.

The UK’s NHS Trusts recognise the valuable work that is undertaken by large internal teams in the medical records department, but awareness is fast growing that transforming processes through utilising technology as an enabler will allow them to function very differently going forward. Given that OPEX Falcon workstations are comparable in size to a traditional single desk within the prep area, the square footage footprint in Medical Records typically becomes 75% smaller when adopting the OPEX solution. In simple terms, this solution allows valuable NHS real estate to be better utilised for its primary purpose – the provision of care.

That’s all well and good in theory, but the reality which hundreds of OPEX customers in the UK have already concluded is that the OPEX Falcon allows operators to ‘prep and scan’ documents considerably faster than traditionally separate ‘prep then scan’ processes whilst utilising less space within the hospital premises to achieve this – meaning that internal labour costs are significantly reduced, which frees up precious budget for deployment elsewhere within the hospital or Trust.

PROCESS MANAGEMENT

With the traditional ‘prep then scan’ approach, we have already noted the need for a large document preparation team and a separate dedicated scan team. In order to maintain consistent workflow throughput, the process requires team leaders to collate and capture manually logged batch information, preparation rates, scan rates and maintain overall process accuracy. When combined with the need to collate and monitor this critical information, it’s easy to establish the necessity for this additional overhead. Translate that into the OPEX Falcon ‘one touch’ process, and we see embedded technology accurately capturing all of this vital information – and more!

Ideally positioned for scanning medical files, OPEX Falcon processes everything from single sheets to multiple stacks of documents, from thick paper to onion skin and fragile or damaged pieces, from envelopes and file folders to receipts and small forms, X-rays to three-dimensional objects – nearly any format or type of document can be scanned. Operators can view captured images in real-time to ensure proper capture and identification – so reducing time-consuming and costly rescans later in the process.

The OPEX Falcons’ base model and package ensures that for every record scanned, the Trust/Hospital will be capturing the patient information and create the taxonomy of that file to accurately recreate the consultants preferred view. Meanwhile, in the background we’re automatically gathering additional critical MI – identifying who processed that file, when they processed it, how many pages were within the file, the number of pages contained within each section, how fast the operative processed the file, how many rejects or jams occurred… even drilling deep down to understanding the idle time accrued in processing, and so highlighting if an operator is reading the file rather than productively scanning it.

This impressive suite of MI data is held locally or shared to a real-time OPEX platform called ‘Insight’. Insight enables an easily visible overview of the live production process, combined with a historic review of both process and individuals, virtually eliminating the need for additional management overhead.

INCREASING PROCESS SECURITY

In a world where security of data is absolute, how can we manage that data when it remains in a physical form, and open to the elements? In legacy ‘prep then scan’ processes, it’s perfectly conceivable that from shelf or box the patient record could well have been handled by 3-4 different individuals. During the prep and scanning process, the potential risks around loss or damage to the patient record are high, and becomes extraordinarily difficult to monitor and police.

When processing medical records scanning work through the OPEX Falcon machines, the process is designed in such a way that only a single ‘touch’ is required by the operative, and that ‘touch’ is being fully audited in the background for security and process management requirements. Ultimately this results in less risk and improved outcome for the digitized patient record – whilst creating a referenceable, compliant audit trail in the event that the file is scrutinized for patient care purposes or legal reasons once the hard copy patient file has been securely destroyed.

Our value proposition is simple – OPEX Falcon significantly reduces labour costs by creating a combined prep and scan process, unique to OPEX hardware, allowing a single operator to prep, scan and index at a rate up to 3 times faster than traditional prep only rates. This combined with our proprietary CertainScan capture and transformation software creates a secure one-touch process, delivering custom digitized contents and metadata into our client’s EDRMS platform. The resulting outcome is the only market solution able to reduce capture costs by 250% or more against all other prep-then-scan processes.

Paul Keefe, OPEX Sales Manager says, “OPEX hardware offerings have always aimed to significantly save labour costs within a scanning process, but the benefits we bring to the conversion of NHS patient records goes far beyond that. We have seen our market share grow year on year in this space not only in new projects but also replacing traditional scanning processes within trusts looking to make a financial saving and I believe that really tells a story. As the deadline for a paperless NHS moves ever closer we are still investing in developing OPEX technologies in this area, whilst our competitors seem to be moving away to a more software only focused model.”

ABOUT OPEX CORPORATION:

With over 40 years’ experience, OPEX Corporation is recognised as a cutting-edge innovator and global technology leader within complex document imaging and high-speed mailroom automation arena – providing performance-enhancing workflow solutions with measurable cost-effective results to thousands of customers in the UK and around the world.

OPEX has focused on delivering high-quality innovative solutions to customers across multiple industries including Healthcare and Government, and direct to Business Processing Organisations who themselves serve the exacting demands of the UK Healthcare scanning market. With proven technologies and unique ‘prep then scan’ processes, OPEX’s combined hardware and software solutions deliver state of the art and cost-effective solutions that exceed their client’s demands.

OPEX’s growing customer base return time after time, understanding the value of how OPEX technologies automate manual processes by streamlining the traditional processes associated with medical records imaging and sorting to reap the benefit from their investment by reducing labour, yet increasing security. A winning combination.

If you would like to know more about how Opex has helped other public sector organisations tackle their legacy issues, you can visit their stand E15 at the Public Sector Show, on 26 June at ExCel London.