The Aeromedical Support unit of the CAA regulates and implements medical requirements for professional flight crew, private pilots, air traffic controllers and cabin crew. They oversee the approval and continued certification of Aeromedical Centres (AeMCs) and an Aeromedical Examiner (AME) network. 

Medical records dated back over half a century and stored at Aviation House in a range of formats and were proving time-consuming to retrieve and took up a considerable amount of office space. During 2017, the Aeromedical Support team undertook a review of the storage and retrieval of medical records, intending to operate the business unit more efficiently.

There were three main areas identified for improvement:

  1. Streamlining the current manual processes.
  2. Improve the quality of the images.
  3. Add value by making everything electronic to assist with both medical investigation and data analysis.

After a tendering process by CAA, Document Options Limited (DOL), a specialist ISO27001 digitisation Company based in Gatwick were awarded the contract.  The scope of the project was to convert all pages to electronic PDF documents and capture the required metadata to assist the searching of any medical record. Due to the highly confidential nature of the information being processed, DOL staff needed security clearance for them to be assigned to the project.

Document Options were awarded the contract on 21 December 2017 and worked over the Christmas period to design a robust and resilient solution. During the first three weeks of the New Year Document Options set up and tested the infrastructure and capture software at their local processing centre.  Final testing took place week commencing 22 January 2018 using the actual medical records, and the project went live as planned on 1 February 2018 and continued throughout the year and delivered on time.

As part of the tender process, it was requested that Optical Character Recognition was applied against every document, as this would allow word searches to be performed once loaded to CAA’s system.  Also, to maintain a high level of data accuracy, the data captured by DOL was matched against the medical reference numbers held on CAA’s system.

The digitisation project enabled CAA to retrieve and use the information without the risk of further degradation, ensuring the viability of each record. Also, digital images can be copied to provide an electronic backup of all medical files for business continuity purposes. As part of the quality review process and acceptance procedure, CAA compared the quality of images before and after scanning, commenting that documents that previously were barely legible could now be read.

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Please convey my thanks to everyone concerned for the excellent response and substantial support given by Document Options with the conversion of microfilm to electronic data.

Solartron Metrology – H C Paige – Technical Secretary

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