If you decided to outsource the scanning of your medical records, one of the first things to do is to select a reliable and trusted document scanning company. Finding a company that can provide good, consistent, fast and accurate service is not always easy. In fact, the most difficult part is to decide which selection criteria to use and which questions to ask.
It is not only about the cost and quality of scanning, although they must necessarily be considered. It is also about the risk of exposing your archive to the wrong company. Here are some useful guidelines.
- Reputation: It goes without saying that you should only entrust your patient file archive to a company with excellent reputation in the healthcare sector and solid experience in scanning medical records. The company and its management team must be respected in your industry and must have multiple, reputable healthcare references.
- Streamlined Scanning Process: The vendor you select must have a clearly defined, transparent scanning process. This is an equivalent of a step-by-step roadmap of how they handle every scanning project. This process should ideally cover the following steps: archive pick-up; transportation and intake at scanning facilities; document preparation; document scanning; indexing & classification; metadata and image delivery; certified (confidential) destruction.
- Urgent Requests Handling: Enquire how the vendor plans to handle your urgent scanning or physical delivery requests. If you require a particular file to be scanned immediately or physically delivered, what is the process and timeframe? How will you make such requests and how can you track their status? In fact, you should be able get an update on the status of any file/document in your archive (urgent or not) at any time and in real time.
- Quality: Ensure that document scanners and technology your vendor uses can guarantee the highest possible image quality. Ask not only what specialized tools are used, but what they actually do. A few red flags concerning data loss: complete deletion (as opposed to removal) of blank images and scanning only in black-or-white or only in colour (as opposed to both). How will the vendor ensure that every page was actually scanned and that nothing went amiss?
- Privacy & Security: Ensure that vendor facilities have strict physical access controls and are properly protected by modern alarm and fire detection systems. Enquire about how they protect your files during transportation and whether they have sealed storage. Evaluate their IT infrastructure for processing capability and ask questions about data security and confidentiality. Always ensure confidential and secure transfer of scanned images and metadata.
- Certified Destruction: Experienced providers will always destroy your documents in accordance with industry regulations for certified destruction so you can rest assured that your files will never end up on public waste sites. If they perform destruction themselves, they must be certified to do this. If they work with a destruction company, they must demonstrate that they performed their due diligence. A certified destruction certificate is a must.
- Qualified Staff: Vendor personnel must be properly trained and experienced (ideally, in processing medical files). Ensure that your vendor’s staff are bound by a non-disclosure agreement and had undergone a background check. They must also be trained in matters related to privacy, security and handling of confidential files. It would not hurt to request their CVs as well.
In short, rely on established companies with a proven track record in your industry that provide secure solutions in accordance with the highest standards.