In the healthcare sector, it is not only professionals with direct patient contact who work under constant high pressure; the same also applies to professionals in the background in clinical laboratories. In laboratory medicine directly in the clinics or externally for various hospitals, several hundred employees often work day and night on the incoming laboratory forms, which of course have to be processed as quickly as possible. Due to the numerous different laboratory requests, whether emergency, routine or special examinations, they are always looking to make processes not only more efficient but also less error-prone at the same time. Laboratory forms, which are largely received in paper form, subsequently make processes inefficient. If they are also partially or completely filled out by hand, the risk of errors in the capture and processing of laboratory forms is high. To help laboratories with the capture and processing of lab forms, the integration of intelligent, AI-based OCR (Optical Character Recognition) comes just in time.

The impact of laboratory forms digitization and process automation on healthcare quality is enormous

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Significant problems with laboratory forms

Similar to medical prescriptions, laboratory forms often still suffer from the less advanced approach of being prepared in paper form with at least handwritten markings and notes by the physician, if not filled out completely by hand. This makes the capture and processing of lab forms enormously tedious. However, the demands of healthcare are high, and the demands of patients are even higher. Increasingly sophisticated healthcare services with an immense demand for laboratory forms to be processed for their analyses speak a clear language. Even though typical laboratory forms are similar in form, the variants differ and vary from laboratory to laboratory and according to specialization. What all laboratory forms have in common is the large amount of data to be recorded, the often paper-based form, and the obligatory archiving, also often in physical form. Three significant problems with laboratory forms are therefore the following:

  • Capture: who is going to be able to decipher these lab forms, which are either partially handwritten with markings and notes or even completely handwritten?
  • Processing: How should this amount of lab forms be processed in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Archiving: Where should the lab forms be stored (retention of lab data is 5 years)?

The capture and processing in paper form plus the obligatory archiving are present pain points with laboratory forms – up to now

The intelligent, AI-based OCR takes over

To ensure that the capture, processing and archiving of laboratory forms no longer generates headaches in the future, a different solution approach is needed. This is where intelligent, AI-based OCR (Optical Character Recognition) takes over, from A to Z, as the following overview illustrates:

  • Lab forms come in, no matter in what form, whether unstructured or structured
  • The lab forms are optimized in their quality by the intelligent, AI-based OCR and, if necessary, the pages are separated from each other
  • The various lab forms and shapes are classified according to specific rules
  • All relevant data from the lab forms, whether handwritten, electronic, or even barcoded, are extracted automatically
  • All relevant data from the lab forms are left behind, neatly structured, and ready for storage in the digital archive
  • If data is still unclear and needs to be verified, the human in the loop is automatically notified

Intelligent lab form processing and archiving for analysis requests with intelligent, AI-based OCR

Labs with big advantages thanks to intelligent, AI-based OCR

Automated capture and processing of essential data from lab forms with intelligent, AI-based OCR brings great benefits to labs:

  • The error rate can be minimized tremendously and quality can be increased at the same time
  • Great cost savings due to the elimination of manual data entry on the one hand and the need for a physical archive on the other.
  • With a digital archive, searching for analyses is greatly simplified
  • All processes around lab forms are accelerated with the integration of intelligent, AI-based OCR, which is crucial for healthcare in general and for clinical labs in particular and can be a matter of life and death

Accurate, complete, understandable, structured, secure, and efficient – just a few of the buzzwords with which intelligent, AI-based OCR triumphs in automated data capture and processing in laboratory forms