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Frequently Asked Questions about PCArchiver

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Such as:
• Will it work on my computer? What do I need?
• Do I need to reorganize my office?
• How long will scanning take?
• Who should do the scanning?
• and more...

Requires registration

• When is it OK to destroy scanned records?
• Record retention rules
• Medicare policies
• Legal opinions
• Backup advice
• The database utility (MDAC)
• and more...
Click here to see the advanced FAQ's.

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Getting Started

Pre-purchase questions you might have:

Questions you might have AFTER purchase, but BEFORE starting to scan:


Please click any of these questions to view Advanced FAQ's & Resources

NOTE: You will asked for a simple registration (name and email) and will then be taken to the site. Your email is NOT shared.

Questions you might have once you have started to scan:

USEFUL articles and RESOURCES:




Will PCArchiver run on my computer system?

PCArchiver10 runs on Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7/10 on standard32-bit PCs.
PCArchiver12, the version now sold to new uses, runs on Windows XP/Vista/7/10 on both 32-bit and 64-bit PCs. Owners of PCArchver10 may purchase an upgrade to PCArchver12 if their office moves to 64-bit computers.

The software runs in Windows, NOT on Macs unless the Macs is using a PC-Windows operating system under dual OS software, such as Parallels.

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What hardware do I need to use or buy to run PCArchiver?

To use PCArchiver, you will need:

  • A high-speed, high-volume, TWAIN compliant scanner with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) able to scan at least 25 pages/minute, with duplexing capabilities. The one we recommend costs about $800. NOTE: For the FREE TRIAL, you do not need to own the scanner yet.
  • Reliable and redundant backup with at least one copy offsite or on the web. If your office does computerized billing, you probably already have a reliable backup system in place. Patient chart data saved by PCArchiver on the server are simply backed up at the same time that the billing system is backed up, using your existing software. You may also wish to check out our suggestions on storage and further backup.

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If I have to buy any hardware or backup tools, what do you recommend and how much will that cost?

We continually test new hardware and software to enable or improve your experience running PCArchiver. Certain products stand out from the rest as most compatible. Others we have found do not work as well. Our Recommendations page contains our findings.

In some cases, because of our recommendations, suppliers of these products offer our customers preferred pricing and a direct ordering process. As a convenience, we offer you the opportuniy to Price and Purchase them through PCArchiver. You are welcome to buy these tools (or others of your choosing) elsewhere, but we think you'll find these prices better and the process simpler.

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Pre-purchase questions you might have:

How does PCArchiver save my office time and money?

In a typical office, PCArchiver will pay for itself in just a few months, then save you thousands each year. Click here to see a sample cost comparison: business-as-usual using paper charts versus your practice using PCArchiver.

What's the difference between PCArchiver and an EMR (Electronic Medical Records system)?

PCArchiver and EMRs are apples and oranges. They provide entirely different benefits, at hugely different prices and staff-time investments. And yet they both digitize medical records, so many people ask this question. Here's what you should know:

PCArchiver is document management scaled specfically for the independent medical practice. It is designed to provide a simple and cost-effective way for solo and group practices to reduce their paper, increase the security of their records, and comply with state laws requiring document retention. Whether you are eager to reclaim office space, reduce staff time and costs spent searching for records, or prepare for retirement, PCArchiver streamlines your practice. The change to your patients is invisible.

With PCArchiver, you'll see cost savings right away, even in the first year: your investment in cost and learning time is minimal. The program costs $1299. Add in all necessary hardware (some of which you may already own) AND hiring a student to perform your initial scans, and your startup costs will run about $3500 in the first year, with just about $500 in subsequent years.

Full-blown EMRs are different, and used for different purposes. Sized for large institutions and multi-specialty practices, they provide sophisticated ways to access data by many physicians in a wide variety of situations. This depth is made possible by a tremendous investment in staff training, IT systems maintenance, and daily typing by both physicians and staff. EMRs require a substantial up-front cost, often $35,000-$100,000, which would take a private practice years to recoup.

And yet EMRs do not do document management easily. They do not solve storage issues for the records you already have. Focused on new records, EMR companies still often recommend that institutional clients maintain their old Record Rooms, inputting (by retyping!) the charts of only active patients.

PCArchiver and EMRs perform different functions. The cost, staff learning curve and IT support for an EMR make sense for institutions that really need to share data between specialties and that have budgets to keep paying for a Record Room. If you are an independent medical practice, an EMR just doesn't fit that bill: you want low cost, quick learning curve, and minimal IT support. You only need to share data in just a few, specific ways, so variety is not your priority. What you really want to do is what EHRs do not do easily: get rid of your “Record Room.”

HOWEVER, PCArchiver keeps your EMR options open, and gets you ready for any EMR you might choose later. The PCArchiver database is based on Microsoft Access, so you'll be able to open and import it into any EMR in the future. With all the discussion in Washington about EMR standards, you may hesitate to invest in any EMR right now. You'll want PCArchiver for getting rid of your paper now or in the future, no matter what happens with those standards later.

How do we know all this? Because we've been there. Designed for practicing physicians by a practicing physician, PCArchiver provides the electronic services your office needs, and not those you don't.

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Why should I buy PCArchiver while we're all waiting for EMR standards?

While we're all still waiting for news on EMR standards, here's what we do know:

  • You will still be required to keep inactive charts for 7-10 years by most states, and indefinitely for certain types of patients. Most malpractice carriers advise keeping all records indefinitely. Retirement does not change these obligations.
  • You still won't want to clog your hallways and basements with these charts. And yet you don't need a "full-blown" EMR to get rid of your excess paper; you just need a scanning and storage utility. Taking care of this essential step now puts you a step ahead, no matter what happens later.
  • You will save time and money by keeping your staff at the front desk, near the phones, not hunting in the back or in storage lockers to reactivate charts, EOBs, contracts, bills, etc. Why wait to start benefiting from this?
  • PCArchiver stores charts in industry-standard TIF files (even more accessible than PDFs), using a basic database. Any files you scan and store now will be easy to open; your data will be easy to import to any EMR, if you choose one later.
  • A typical office SAVES $6000 in its first year of PCArchiver use, and up to $10,000 in each following year. Even if you only use it for one year, you'll come out ahead.

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Can I use PCArchiver for current and new patients, in addition to inactive ones?

Yes! We designed PCArchiver to get rid of paper from inactive records, and now many of our clients have found the system a great way to reduce paper even on current and new records!

To use PCArchiver only for inactive records:
You scan all the records you designate as inactive (typically two years since you last saw that patient), but keep paper files for active patients. Once or twice a year, when your walls of inactive patients start to grow again, you scan and add these files to the system, then dispose of the paper records. If that patient again becomes active, you simply look up and print the chart, put it in a file folder, and you have reactivated it.

To use PCArchiver for current and new patients:
You scan ALL your files into PCArchiver, both active and inactive ones. When a patient comes in for a visit, you can review that chart by printing it out (for slim charts), printing out the last few pages (for thick charts) , or by reviewing it on a computer monitor (particularly effective in offices with networked monitors in exam rooms). You make notes for today's visit on paper, as usual. After today's visit, your staff will scan the new notes and add them to the chart (using the "Append" function). The next time that patient returns for a visit -- whether in five weeks or five years -- the query will bring up the chart, complete with today's notes.

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How much office reorganization does PCArchiver require?

Very little, except in a good way! After all, our goal is efficiency. If you had to change your practice significantly, we wouldn't call that efficient and neither would you.

Right now you probably retreive old charts by geting out of your chair and looking through your storage area. With PCArchiver, you'll retreive old charts by clicking a desktop icon on your computer and looking up the patient's file from your seat. Same process, just fewer steps (literally!).

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How fast can I expect to scan the records?

Scanning goes faster than most people think. All you need is a good-quality scanner. (We're not talking about the single-page scanners you see at local office superstores!) The Panasonic scanner we recommend scans 35 pages per minute. It scans both sides of the page at the same time, and holds 120-150 pages in its automatic document feeder. This scanner costs about $1,000. See more discussion in Product Recommendations.

This scanner will easily be able to scan 400-600 charts/day or 2000-3000 charts/week. It's so simple to operate that you can hire a high-school or college student for the summer or after school to get this step done for you. After the initial input, scanning more charts once or twice a year typically takes only a few days, and can be handled by office staff or a student.

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Will I still have space on my computer's hard drive?

Yes, almost certainly. Those walls of paper will take up very little space on your hard drive. Even 10,000 scanned charts (let's say 10 pages each, or 100,000 pages), will take up a mere 1 GB of a hard drive (1.6 million pages in 16 GB!). Any computer purchased in the last 2-4 years has at least 500 GB of space. Your office billing systems and patient data likely take up only 5 GB of space, so you'll still have plenty of room.

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How do I backup my records to make sure they are saved, even if the computer crashes?

Your PCArchiver records will backup electronically each time you backup your office billing system, so records cannot be lost. Many offices already do a regular backup of patient billing records, and then keep a backup tape, CDs, or cloud for extra security. PCArchiver files just become part of that backup.

Think about it: Right now, you have no backup at all for your paper records if your office faces a fire, flood, or other catastrophe. Scanned files mean you never have to worry about that.

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Questions you might have AFTER purchase, but BEFORE starting to scan:

Can my regular office staff fit scanning into their regular duties?

Yes, but... We recommend a faster, more cost-efficient solution: hire a high-school or college student.

The task is easy and tedious, yet requires full attention. Your staff is probably quite busy already. Plus, your employees are no doubt more skilled than this job requires, so you'll be wasting their abilities (and pay) on a very repetitive job. A high-school or college student could scan hundreds of charts per week after school, or several thousand per week during the summer.

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Can I set up the scanner at the front desk and ask my front desk staff do scanning between phone calls?

With a basic computer network, your scanner can sit anywhere in your office. However, most offices elect to attach the scanner to an out-of-the-way computer, out of sight of visitors. Empty file folders and boxes of scanned records pile up quickly.

Also see the previous question about office staff; scanning is simple but does require full attention.

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Want to find out more in the In-Depth FAQs?