May 10, 2011 – The federal meaningful use incentive program is predicated on “structured data,” namely discrete, searchable data that is easily mined and exchanged.

Many industry providers, however, have long depended on document management systems, which scan paper forms and assemble them as electronically accessible – but not easily searchable – files. Scanning technology can reduce storage costs associated with maintaining bulging files, and well-indexed files can serve as a stepping stone to more fully blown EHR systems, experts say. But many industry observers say the meaningful use program will relegate document imaging systems to a secondary role.

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