LONDON, ONT. -- Some would argue it’s long overdue, but with the help of a London company, Woodstock General Hospital has become the first in our region to fully digitize their records.

The move has found efficiencies and cost savings.

“It originally started in our Emergency Department, that was where the delays in getting the access to the physical paper chart were most severe,” says Chief Financial Officer for Woodstock General Hospital Kathy Levelle.

“Over the years, we’ve gradually added our inpatient records, and have now expanded to all of our outpatient clinics as well."

The company, Polar Imaging, based in London has worked with businesses to modernize invoice, and payroll information, and then a couple or years ago, began working with Woodstock General to modernize the hospital’s records.

“It really came with a passion to better manage information,” says Managing Director Steve Todd.

It was an immediate success. So the project gradually expanded to add inpatient records and now all of the outpatient clinics as well, becoming the first hospital in our area to have a fully digital records data base available to any clinician in the region.

“It’s created a number of efficiencies across the hospital, and even external for us to be able to release records to family doctors, or legal purposes, insurance purposes.

Having everything already electronic, actually improves our turn around times on a number of processes and creates efficiencies” says Levelle.

Those efficiencies have translated into annual savings of over $430,000 for the hospital.

“That’s a combination of what we were spending to send our records off site. We used to send them off site for scanning, now we do them all internally in house.”

Levelle says, “On the staffing side of things we used to have our records department staffed 24/7, now we’re down to just regular daytime office hours.“

The project was recognized with an award by Nucleus Research which studies return on invest cases.

“We’ve been so passionate about delivering these solutions, just having them validated, with these types of savings has been really really incredible,” Todd says.

“So many inefficiencies, in managing, specifically paper documents, and a lot of organizations and in this case hospitals.”

With the pandemic, the need for digital records with the efficiencies it presents, has Polar Imaging working with other hospitals as well as companies that now are dealing with staff who are working remotely.

“There’s been a huge uptick in demand for our type of services since the pandemic, and in cases with Woodstock and other hospitals, they’ve reaped a lot of benefits and just manage that information electronically.”