Optical Scanning Systems

Written by Kimberly Clark
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The use of optical scanning systems is rapidly progressing and becoming an increasingly popular technology. Typical systems are comprised of computer hardware that visually captures an image, and software that converts the image to electronic data. Optical scanning systems can take information on paper, whether written or typed, and transform it into a format that can be interpreted by other computer software.

Optical Scanning Systems in the Medical Industry

There are several different types of optical scanning systems, but Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Optical Mark Reading (OMR) are the two used most often in the medical industry. OCR has the ability to scan any type of document. And after being trained to recognize certain characters, it can automatically convert the information contained on the document into electronic data.

OMR systems are used to selectively detect specific marks arranged in predefined manner on the document. An example of this type document is one that contains checkboxes or fill-in fields. This device is widely used to read the results of standardized school tests, surveys and lottery numbers. It is also the basis of the barcode technology that is commonly used in the retail industry.

When a person checks-in to a particular hospital or visits a certain doctor's office, they tend to fill out the exact same form. This makes it relatively easy for medical professionals to incorporate optical scanning into their document management systems. After the optical scanning system is taught how to read the forms, it will ultimately save the healthcare provider both time and money. Plus, such a system can reformat the data so it can be electronically transferred to healthcare claims processing software.

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