Imaging has brought information sharing and the ability for collaboration to a level that less than a few years ago many never deemed possible. Digital solutions have allowed companies to access information simultaneously across countries, time zones and the world. With OCR, Optical Character Recognition, documents have become searchable from the page level down to a single word. Yet as digital technology becomes more widely used, the single question remains the same: what to image and what not to image? In this blog we will take a look at that question and much more.
There are a few prime considerations when determining what to image including: Activity, Accessibility and Data Protection.
Perhaps one of the greatest considerations in deciding on a digital pathway is identifying which documents to image. The first step is to define how often a certain population of documents is accessed.
Every time a document is accessed, it has an associated cost. If a document is off-site there is a retrieval/transportation cost for delivery. If the item is on-site there is a labor cost to go and retrieve the information and deliver it internally. Every time an item cannot be accessed there is also an associated labor cost in trying to find/locate the information. Offices waste countless man hours looking for documents that often go unaccounted for. Coopers and Lybrand has successfully attached a number to this laborious process: Professionals spend 5 to 15% of their time reading information, but up to 50% looking for it. Imaging eliminates both the cost associated with accessing information and simultaneously the need to search for it, making your most active information a point and click away, from any desktop even multiple desk tops.
A quick litmus test to discover what truly needs to be imaged is to track what documents are accessed day after day. Sounds simplistic but complete a workflow study and a pattern will quickly emerge. You will notice what items, if imaged, would provide time savings as they are frequently accessed and those items that are not accessed at all. If you ask this question without tracking workflow, you may completely misjudge what to image and the percentage of your population that you should image. Even a slight error carries large financial ramifications when extrapolated over months and then years. Equally important, in this process you many decide to change your workflow with the implementation of an imaging solution which further increases efficiency. This requires an entirely different blog post dedicated to this subject of Workflow alone.
Records Centers, in general (an exact figure has not been established and varies from client to client) would assert with a degree of certainty that a ‘typical’ client only ever accesses 30% of its inventory. That said if a corporation imaged their entire off-site inventory they would be wasting 70% of their resources. The Measurement and Analysis of Large-Scale Network File System Workloads, UC Santa Cruz, cites an even larger number when they write: “90 percent of information is never accessed after creation.” Regardless of the model you choose to follow, work flow and front end analysis is a sage investment.
NOTE: If your information is off-site with a company such as one of the 2-20 Family of Companies, you can request a report of your inventory sorted by the number of times that have been accessed. You can do this for boxes and files. This is an excellent starting point. Activity and the need to access information again and again, then digitizing this information allow a business to experience the fastest ROI.
Document types, departments and Electronic Health Records, all represent variables that should be studied to identify what needs to transition to the digital world. Some departments for example, may be large scale turn key scanning projects, while other department’s single document types, may be more appropriate for Scan On Demand. Some items may be deemed appropriate due to their level of activity while others by their need to remain immediately accessible at all times. Here is a look at considerations for each:
Document Types: Vertical markets such as law firms are prime candidates to prioritize what requires a digital solution by document type. Certain document types by their nature and importance will be retrieved again and again and are of critical importance. HUD statements and divorce agreements are examples of document types that are critical to the practice and are both active and must be accessible. Other document types in other industries are important for regulatory and compliance purposes. With a review of various document types, this can easily prioritize and provide the first steps in your digital road map.
Departments: There are departments that simply by the nature of their function, are prime candidates for imaging in a cross section of industries. Departments such as Accounting and Human Resources are by nature of their function lend themselves naturally to an imaging solution. The ROI is quickly experienced with improvements in workflow, customer service, rapid release of information and improvements in overall efficiency. The activity is almost guaranteed and the immediacy of the need for information, business critical. ROI becomes secondary to satisfying the customer or completing a business dependent operation such as Accounts Receivable. Again, a work flow study is still a must as Imaging will only enhance workflow and increase efficiency.
EHR (Electronic Health Records) and EMR (Electronic Medical Records): The medical community is one of the rare business segments that do not study activity, workflow or a department’s true needs, to decide if they will enter the digital age. Regulations have made EMR/EHRs mandatory in order to receive Medicare and Medicaid dollars and to meet the standards of Meaningful Use, as well as the new ICD 10 regulations/guidelines. Having access to medical information in electronic format is as much about information sharing/collaboration, payment processing and equally about managing patient health. Identifying dangerous drug interactions can be experienced after implementing an e-prescribing solution, the accessibility of a medical record from one institution to another, the control of an Electronic Health Record for a caregiver and more brings a new direct impact of EMR/EHR technology on human lives. AHIMA has provided a quick look at imaging that sheds some light on this topic entitled: Is Document Imaging Right for Your Organization? Please keep in mind the publication date as it relates to the latest regulations.
Last and often the most important determinant in going digital are those records considered ‘vital records’ that will be needed for disaster recovery and business resumption. Imaging is becoming an integral part of many disaster recovery programs. With more and more vital information moving to the digital form and stored off-site in various on-line secure, replicated repositories, business continuity can be experienced at any hot-site. Instead of locating physical media, all you need is a computer with internet access. Also, with one of the 2-20 Family of Companies, web servers are mirrored and redundant, meaning if one site has problems you are instantly connected to a backup site. Should disaster strike, your business can resume at a new facility within minutes.
As the digital age enters the doors of every organization, a few key principles remain the same in determining where the solutions lend themselves, how to prioritize implementation and the effect this can have on workflow. Even the most sophisticated Records and Information programs are built to ensure you remain complaint, in control, efficient and satisfy the needs of your clients and your business. Imaging can assist with these goals. Yet systematically mapping out your strategy is the best way to make the most of your investment.
Need a few more reasons to think digitally? Did you know:
- The average office spends $28 in labor filing or retrieving a document.
- $150 in labor is spent finding a misfiled document.
- $350 in labor is spent recreating a lost document!
- The average Fortune 500 Company sends 150 million paper documents and receives 150 million paper documents annually. In addition, over $17 million is spent by each company just on faxing!
- 7.5% of all documents get lost, 3% of the remainder get misfiled.
- The average business document is copied 19 times – Over 81 billion sheets of paper are copied each month!
- There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone – growing at a rate of 22% per year!
- Over $5 billion each year is wasted on printed materials that become obsolete before they are ever used!
*Sources: Coopers & Lybrand, PC Magazine, AIIM, Imaging Magazine, AdAge.
Visit the 2-20 Family of Companies web-sites to learn some Frequently Asked Questions About Imaging Including:
What is Document Imaging?
Document imaging is the process of capturing information from paper, photographs, faxes or handwritten notes. The captured information is then scanned and stored digitally on a computer system which enables you to quickly retrieve documents with only a few keystrokes. The digital images are usually stored on CD-ROMs (which can hold approximately 10,000-12,000 pages of information) or on a secure Web site (which can hold unlimited amounts of information). Rather than carrying multiple boxes of documents, you can easily transport large amounts of information stored on CD-ROMs or via the Web.
What is Archiving?
Archiving is the process of converting important paper documents which are normally kept in a records center and used mainly for reference. Old tax returns, closed legal documents and medical records are good candidates for archiving. The documents will be scanned and stored on CD-ROMs or the Web which will reduce the need for storage space while providing high-speed efficient access to those documents.
What role does an Application Service Provider perform?
An ASP provider such as Arizona Records, Certified Records, InfoStore and Storetrieve provides all the benefits of document imaging, without requiring dedicated employees and capital resources for the capture of documents. The documents are picked up at your office, prepared, scanned and indexed at our National location. We then deliver the imaged documents on the media of your choice (CD, Corporate Network, Internet) to your office.