Northern Doctors Urgent Care (NDUC), a Northumberland-based general practitioner's co-operative, is using an AXXIS
document imaging system from Southampton-based Kendata Peripherals to eliminate the need to retain hundreds of thousands of
hand-written forms at its call-handling centre.
Co-operatives like NDUC have begun to spring up in recent years as part of a drive to improve service levels for GP's patients by enabling out-of-hours calls to be handled from a central point.
Each time a patient telephones the NDUC centre, the details are entered on to a database and a handwritten two-part form is completed by the duty doctor so that there is always a legal record of the call. One copy of this form goes to the patient's GP, and the other copy is kept by NDUC which, in line with health authority practice, keeps its records for seven years.
Since NDUC was set up in 1996, it has received an average of more than 100,000 calls a year, and it quickly became apparent that there was a need to store the documents electronically.
NDUC manager, Graham Stewart, takes up the story: Although most of the information about a particular call can be obtained from our database, it is the handwritten form that provides the legal record, and these are required occasionally when there is a complaint or a legal problem.
ÒI was concerned about having to keep 700,000 paper documents, not only because of the physical space required and the associated fire and security issues but also because of the potential difficulty of accessing a record when it is needed.
After having evaluated several document imaging systems, Stewart settled on Kendata's AXXIS system, which includes a scanner, PC, optical disk drive and the document imaging software.
The AXXIS system is ideal for our needs, he continued. It enables us to store the forms in a secure way, and retrieving a particular document is quick and easy.
Data security is a key feature of the system: 15 levels of password-protected security are available, and the data-storage medium in this case, optical disk is encoded to prevent it from being read on an unauthorised system. Once transferred to a write-once optical disk, the forms cannot be manipulated or tampered with in any way.
Although AXXIS can provide a number of sophisticated search facilities, NDUC uses the simple retrieval mechanism of typing in a form's unique tag number, which is generated at the time of the patient's call.
Achieving a scanning speed of around 1000 documents per hour, NDUC soon managed to input its initial backlog of 260,000 forms. Document scanning is now carried out in batches on a weekly basis, and the handwritten forms are shredded soon afterwards.
The AXXIS system has certainly delivered the promised benefits of saving document storage space and allowing rapid retrieval of information concluded Stewart, and it also gives an additional quality factor to the service we provide.
15th October 1999 Ref. KE130/2