Health care is an application area that is currently subject to radical digitalization. On the one hand, the growth of classic paper archives is becoming a logistical and organisational problem, due to the current flood of documents that must be maintained for at least 30 years. On the other hand, the increasingly electronic formats of laboratory, X-ray, clinical and examination systems demand adequate electronic archiving. When archiving electronic documents that frequently result from scans, the classic TIFF format still always prevails. However, an increase in the PDF/A format in the medium term is also expected here because this provides superior provisions for metadata, electronic signatures and, in particular, the search options using full-text. And this occurs in file sizes that are comparable or even smaller than the TIFF equivalent.
The presentation from Prof. Paul Schmücker about “Long-Term Archiving of Medical Documents” provides an overview of the general requirements for long-term archiving in the clinical environment. He uses practical examples to reveal the special features regarding the length of preservation, legal obligations and requirements of the clinic that we must consider. In this context, PDF/A will play an important role in the future.
The presentation by Carsten Heiermann deals with the topic of practical experience when converting paper documents into an electronic archive. “Archiving Electronic Health Records” describes procedures that were established in other sectors and that are being increasingly used in the Health Care sector in order to create PDF/A documents from scanned patient and treatment records, which can then be transferred to an electronic archive. In this case, the advantages of image compression and embedding OCR texts in PDF/A files are particularly important.
Radiation medicine is a discipline within the Health Care sector that is particularly strongly regulated. In his presentation, Michael Obenland draws on practical experience to describe the use of radioactive material to treat patients and the complex and often drawn-out treatment process. However, “From Medical Forms to PDF/A Documents” goes one step further by introducing, for the first time in a radiotherapy centre, an integrated business process without media disruption based on electronic forms. At the end of this, the forms that have been filled in are converted to PDF/A and the documents are electronically signed before they are transferred into an electronic archive.