Digital medical archive in psychiatric unit to save millions of documents

Ermelo 09 April 1999 The psychiatric facility Veldwijk in Ermelo, The Netherlands, currently is handling the digital storage of all documents and forms with relation to the treatment cycles of its patients. The number of documents amounts to approximately one million written pieces a year. Veldwijk is the first Dutch hospital switching to digital storage on a large scale. Before, the Medical Center Apeldoorn has experimented with digital medical storage but it never came to on-line consultation of the scanned documents within the different hospital departments. The health care sector decided not to follow the project in Apeldoorn. Perhaps, the new Veldwijk experience will change the minds of Dutch health care professionals.

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The psychiatric facility Veldwijk in Ermelo, The Netherlands, currently is handling the digital storage of all documents and forms with relation to the treatment cycles of its patients. The number of documents amounts to approximately one million written pieces a year. Veldwijk is the first Dutch hospital switching to digital storage on a large scale. Before, the Medical Center Apeldoorn has experimented with digital medical storage but it never came to on-line consultation of the scanned documents within the different hospital departments. The health care sector decided not to follow the project in Apeldoorn. Perhaps, the new Veldwijk experience will change the minds of Dutch health care professionals.

Veldwijk is one of the largest psychiatric units in the Netherlands hosting 1000 patients and 1100 caretakers. In addition, the facility has 350 part-time and 9000 polyclinic patients. Each admission requires four sub-files. The hospital staff aims at a reduction of the physical data transport by using digital document scanning. Since August 1998, 40.000 files have been scanned and made available on-line. The task will be finished by the end of 2000. Veldwijk has selected the storage/distribution software system Easy Archive, which runs on a separate Windows NT server and is linked to Office Power. The digital documents are directly available from the central hospital information system but strict rules for authorization have been introduced.

In Ermelo, two scan stations have been installed, plus one at the outpatient unit in Harderwijk. A fourth one has to be implemented at the polyclinic in Lelystad. From the two poly-sites at a distance of 6 and 29 km respectively, the scanned documents travel via a Wide Area Network (WAN) to the central storage unit in Ermelo. The polyclinics in Barneveld, Elburg and Almere will be connected to the network at a later stage. The WAN is based on leased KPN lines, with inclusion of a router, and linked to the backbone of Veldwijk. The other stations dispose of a Local Area Network (LAN). The scanning requires the manual input of patient and archive number, type of document, and department code. The other data is retrieved form the patient database. The same elements are used as search keys for consultation.

The electronic storage and distribution of documents meets an urgent need. The same patient often is treated by several teams of physicians. Veldwijk consists of 60 buildings, covering a wooded area of 122 hectares. The files of patients are transported by means of little buses, motorcycles or bicycles to the different requesting parties. File transport to the distant polyclinics also happens with use of proper means. Since two years, the internal documents are archived digitally with Office Power. This system makes all scanned files directly available. In the future, it will be applied for administrative purposes as well. At present, the data is stored magnetically on tape and disk. The old files no longer are registered on microfilm.

The Dutch health care sector shows vivid interest in the Veldwijk project. At this stage, three general hospitals already have visited the site in Ermelo. The Automatisering Gids has served as the source for this news item.


Leslie Versweyveld

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