Understanding PDF/A

The usage of digitalized information systems and documentation formats in the US healthcare niche has meant that the need for progressive, affordable and easy-to-use archiving documentation systems has surfaced as a major requirement across all healthcare entities and the related, business associates. With the biggest of healthcare organization in the US now increasingly ramping-up their existing infrastructure to meet the requirements of the HIPAA-defined regulations, PDF format that allows more security and control over digitally-stored documents, helping clinical settings and doctors easier access to patient medical records.

Understanding PDF/A

PDF/A has achieved notable acceptance with many of the credible government organizations being the first to adopt this format, raising PDF/A to the pedestal of government-endorsed documentation standards. PDF/A essentially represents PDF for Archiving requirements. PDF/A is now a part of PDF standards adopted by the ISO 19005 that uses a subset of PDF format, albeit a few PDF features that have been temporarily avoided. PDF/A is perhaps the undisputed leader in the niche of creating, printing or viewing PDF documents. It also eases the process of preserving PDF documents for record purposes and limits access to such documents.

PDF/A Advantages

PDF/A offers a wide variety of tools to help archive and retrieve documents. With PDF format being endorsed by the ISO itself, it is no wonder that the PDF/A will soon become the national and global standard for digital archiving requirements. Governments too have started to realize and have openly endorsed the digital standards set as a part of PDF/A. This is because PDF/A adoption ensures that documentation formats are streamlined. This eases the overall documentation process that further helps to cut costs. Increasingly, healthcare corporations are transferring their document archives into the PDF/A format. This is being done because the ease of using PDF/A format allows easy documentation and neutralizes chances of compliance-related penalties. Thus, compliance issues related to HIPAA’s benchmarks regulatory are least likely to arise with PDF/A. This is mainly because PDF/A has now become a globally-adopted standard in the niche of document archiving.

Some salient features of PDF/A include:

  • Greater Document Integrity – there is minimal risk of external or unwanted modification to the PDF document. This means that the long-term management of medical records becomes easier.
  • Ensuring Format Compliance – since healthcare bodies require following some standards in the document format, using PDF/A ensures medical, legal, federal and state-level regulatory compliance.
  • Cost-effective Restoration of Documents – converting older versions of medical documents into PDF format is easy and the conversion is undemanding and cost-effective.

Support for PDF/A

Globally-renowned and established government agencies that endorse the quality and ease-of-operation associated with PDF/A include:

  • NARA – U..S. National Archives and Records Administration
  • Libraries in nations like Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria and Norway
  • European Commission for its Management of Electronic Documents and Records (MoReq)
  • Many US Courts have mandated PDF submissions for legal documentation and filing requirements including complaints and petitions

More About PDF/A

PDF/A or PDF for Archiving was conceptualized with the aim of ensuring long-term preservation of digitalized documents and thus, it usage for patient records is understandable since patient data often spreads across many decades. PDF/A provides complete specifications that include how to view, create and print PDF documents, ensuring that first time users don’t find the interface difficult-to-use. This also means that the visual appearance of documents is retained in a particular manner for decades without any recurring costs. This includes details about what all can be included in the PDF file and features that can address long-term storage goals.

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