Monthly Archives: March 2013

Snowstorm leads to paperless city council debate

It can be a little surprising when inspiration strikes. It is widely believed that an apple hitting Sir Isaac Newton on the head led to the theory of gravity. Now, according to a report out of Niagara, New York, a snowstorm has opened the door for a paperless city council.

Last week, Alderman Sue Ellen Merritt brought up the issue of going paperless during a meeting after an experience changed her way of thinking. Originally expressing doubts about an electronic document sharing system, Merritt was enlightened during a recent snowstorm that slowed mail delivery. A member of the township "risked their life" to deliver her agenda package.

This caused her to reopen the debate about purchasing iPads and going paperless since everything can be delivered electronically. Mayor Doug Joyner backed Merritt's plan.

Alderman Lou Di Leonardo said he has never been one for technology but does acknowledge the amount of waste and staff time spent printing agenda packages, which can be dozens of pages long. He added that he is willing to learn how to use a tablet to cut down on the paper usage.

"I don't even know what Twitter is," Di Leonardo told Niagara This Week. "I'm tired of all the paper."

While there were security concerns expressed, proper management of the devices can keep any issues in check. Additionally, the benefits of saved staff time that was spent photocopying and preparing each agenda package as well as the cost of paper, are too great to ignore.

With the help of a document scanning and management service, any company can start taking advantage of a paperless approach and shift into the digital world.

Medical practices embracing paperless practices

When the term "paperless" comes up in regard to the current state of business, many professionals think about the typical office environment. While this does make sense, it does not paint the full picture of how far the digital influence has spread or how many different industries have started to embrace it.

In a recent Dental Economics article, Dr. Kent Stapley, examined how the medical field has implemented a paperless approach.

"Today's high-tech offices don't have some 'magical' lock on all the benefits of paperless technology," wrote Stapley. "Any practice can go paperless to whatever comfort level and benefit they desire. Some offices are content with their current paperless level, while others are willing to introduce new technologies."

He discussed three specific ways that medical offices have deployed a paperless system. The first is with digital X-rays, which he considers to have facilitated the biggest productivity gain for his practice. The wait time for X-ray development is eliminated and you can easily adjust a photo and improve the quality of the image.

Second is the use of digital documents. This allows administrators to collect all patient information electronically for easier access and better organization. He added that his office has deployed a document scanning and management service to make sure every piece of paper needed is now digital and it has freed up an "amazing amount of space."

Finally there is electronic prescription writing. With the help of a mobile application, physicians can not only electronically submit subscriptions, but can also look up drug information, allergy interactions, disease interactions, renew requests and access a two-year patient history.

A paperless approach is easy to implement with the help of a document management service.

VA secretary speaks about paperless switch

One of the main reasons some organizations are rolling out a paperless approach is because of the speed at which many processes can be handled when information is digital. This makes perfect sense, as electronic data is easier to organize and maintain, especially if you are dealing with official forms.

This has been the reason that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been pushing for a paperless process. According to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki – who spoke with CNN's "State of the Union" over the weekend – there are currently 600,000 claims, or 70 percent of all claims, that are considered backlogged. Since Shinseki took over when Barack Obama was elected president, the number of claims pending for more than 125 days has nearly quadrupled.

"This has been decades in the making, 10 years of war. We're in paper, we need to get out of paper," Shinseki said. "We have commitments that in 2014 we will be electronically processing our data and sharing it."

He added that no veteran should have to wait around for claims.

Florida Rep. Jeff Miller spoke during a hearing last week on the subject and said that there are many veterans that are losing patience as they continue to hear the same excuses about increased workloads and complexity of claims.

The VA has started to evolve. A new computer system is in place in 20 regional offices around the country and all regional offices will be updated by the end of the year.

Streamlining the claims process is a prime example of a way that a paperless approach can help a business. By partnering with a document scanning and management service, any company can start to get rid of the paper and thrive in the digital realm.

Paperless practices take to the skies

The ability to go paperless is sure to be a topic of conversation being held in boardrooms and around the water cooler of companies all over the country. While the office discussion makes plenty of sense on the ground, it has now taken off in the skies.

According to a recent Skift article, American Airlines has become the first U.S. airline to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to implement an iPad as a replacement for paper charts.

Traditionally, every aircraft is required to have a Kitbag which is filled with up to 25 pounds of paper documents that pilots use as a reference. It includes with flight manuals, approach plates, navigation charts, policy manuals, minimum equipment lists and taxi charts. For a fleet that has almost 900 planes in it, that is a lot of paper being wasted.

To get approval, AA needs to not only prove that the iPad could replace the operational side of the physical papers but also the rigors of flight – specifically that the device could handle rapid decompression and still be functional. They also had to arrange for a mount test to show how the tablets would look when locked in place.

"Despite AA's many troubles over the past year, it has become an early adopter among airlines from SXSW hackathons to paperless cockpits," Samantha Shankman, the author of the piece wrote. "This is a trend that can truly differentiate the new American."

While your typical organization does not need to worry about a decompression test when thinking about going paperless, it does show the extent to which some businesses will travel to get rid of the clutter of paper. Most companies can also partner with a document scanning and management service to start.

Millions take part in paperless NCAA bracket office pool

It's that wonderful time of year again when offices around the country start coming together to talk college basketball and start filling out their 2013 NCAA Tournament Bracket. It is a time honored tradition of ponying up $5 or $10 to take your best shot at bringing home the total grand prize and having bragging rights around the office. And by now, the process has most likely gone completely paperless.

Recent reports suggest that millions of American's will be taking part in the world largest office pool this week. Traditionally, one or two employees would spearhead the event by handing out paper brackets after Selection Sunday and participants would have three days to turn them back in. Now, thanks to Web-based portals from companies like ESPN, CBS and countless others, most of the leg work that was required by organizers and took time from the work day has been replaced by an automated system.

While employers may not like to know that March Madness costs an estimated $2 billion in productivity losses, according to a Finchannel article.

An MSN survey conducted after last year's tournament found that only 4 percent of respondents said they would not be partaking in the tournament in anyway – watching or doing a bracket. Also, 86 percent confessed to following the games while in the office.

While the chances of filling out a perfect bracket is more than 9.2 quintrillion to one (that's 9.2 with 18 zeros after it), it helps bring comradery and a spirited sense of competition to workers. By using a paperless system, it streamlines the process and makes it easier for businesses to manage the simple bracket setup.

This exact reasoning can be used to see why partnering with a document scanning and management service is a great way to save time and move into the digital realm.

Document storage issues plague Illinois courthouse

The Jackson County Courthouse is not unlike many organizations these days. Located in Illinois, the building is trying to find the most cost-effective and simple way to transfer its numerous paper documents and records into something digital. Paperless office solutions have become more of a necessity with computer systems evolving, and it is important to find an option that meets a business' daily needs.

According to an article in The Southern Illinoisan, State Attorney Mike Carr said that the documents stored in the courthouse basement are secure. Some of the pages, stacked floor-to-ceiling, date back to the 1970s. While a few no longer require storage – old traffic offenses are not critical, he said – others have to be kept forever.

Information concerning old murder cases, for example, must be safely stored, Carr said.

A document scanning program has already been installed on the third-floor in the state attorney's offices, but the lawyer explained that an automated system for storage could cost up to $60,000. However, Carr said that he can make a pragmatic argument for the improvement and funds can come from an office collection.

Judge William Schwartz told the news source that he is aware of the issues from storing paper in the courthouse basement. Even so, each page has a storage cost, he said.

"You want to keep the least amount you can, but be responsible in what you're getting rid of," Schwartz said. "In this day and age of electronics there ought to be an electronic method of storing a lot of this stuff that is unlikely to be needed in the future."

Businesses and organizations across numerous industries can benefit from using document scanning and storage software. That way, the information stays intact and secure, but the bulk of paper can be eliminated.

Electronic tax filing could become only option

Not to alarm you, but is only one month left to get your taxes filed with the state and federal governments. If you were hoping to mail it in, bad news, the deadline has passed. Not to worry, as there is always the option of e-filing – which is a system that may become the norm before too long – whether you like it or not.

According to an article in the Boston Globe, the state of Massachusetts is looking to have an entire digital system in place as early as next year. Amy Pitter, the Department of Revenue Commissioner said that her goal is to have nobody file on paper. Currently, only 6 percent of residents still file on paper.

It is easy to understand why the state wants to get rid of paper filing and it comes down to cold hard cash. According to the report is costs $1 million per year to print, distribute, store and process paper tax forms. The IRS estimates that is costs 15 cents to process an electronic return compared to $3.50 for a paper one.

There is also the environmental aspect. Pitter said that there are many trees killed every year to produce all the paper that is filed, copies and eventually shredded. Plus there are thousands of forms created that are never used.

"Just from an environmental perspective, it's awful," Pitter said.

Residents will still be able to file in paper in the coming years but as Pitter explained "it won't be impossible but we are going to try to keep it so you do it only if you really, really want to." Those interested will need to request the paper forms be mailed to them prior to filing by using the department's website.

The electronic age is here and every business can benefit with the help of document scanning and management service.

Healthcare service sees 50 percent cost savings by going paperless

Saving money has been one of the main reasons that many companies have been considering a paperless approach. But while saying cost savings will happen, producing tangible evidence is what can sway the minds of business decision-makers. That is just what a recent report did.

A recent case study that was published by Healthx – a healthcare communication provider – examined how a paperless plan can effect business operations. The report covered a pilot program with the Southeastern Indiana Health Organization (SIHO) that eliminated the use of paper Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements.

Healthx estimated that between the sheer number of pages printed and the volume in which they are distributed, EOBs cost an average of 50 cents per statement. SIHO agreed to the voluntary study at its 120- member facility. Using a Web portal and marking campaign, SIHO was able to see 57 percent user adoption and 50 percent cost reduction in just 90 days.

On top of that, once paperless, the reduction was more than 6,000 paper statements. Users that signed up for the electronic statement plan reported a 98 percent positive feedback rate citing ease of use and speed in signing up. A yet unreleased second phase of the study is planned.

"We will realize a 50 percent saving. We have reduced our spending in half – which should be a substantial amount of money that rolls into the other tangibles," Mike Clancy, vice president of IT for SIHO, said in the report. "Paperless EOB will provide our members with quicker and easier access to benefit information, right at their fingertips."

In this instance, not only did a paperless approach save money, it also increased productivity and the customer experience while immediately eliminating stacks of paper. This study did not account for the existing paperwork that will need to be scanned and organized before a completely digital system can be put in place. This task can easily be handled by a document scanning and management service.

Car dealership saves $100,000 per year by going paperless

It seems that every industry can benefit from the use of a paperless solution. As technology evolves, the need for paper is dwindling. However, while tablets and digital communication become more commonplace, it takes more to manage the system than just buying the devices.

A recent CITEWorld article detailed how auto mart Jones Junction in Harford County, Maryland made the switch. The company used to require every sales person to carry an "evidence manual," which was a heavy binder filled with sales brochures, customer testimonials, competitor information and more. With 11 different car brands on the lot, that became a mountain of information to keep organized and updated.

Last year over the summer, the executives started talking about deploying iPads instead. After shopping around they finally pulled the trigger in September and spent $50,000 to incorporate 130 tablets into the sales system. They also added a document management service and mobile applications to keep everyone on the same page.

"From a training point of view, it's absolutely fantastic," Drew Bauer, the sales trainer and recruiter for Jones Junction, told the news source. "Before [the app], I was going through reams of paper and printing PowerPoint presentations for people all the time, which were later thrown away. Now I just download the PowerPoint presentation into the app and I'm done. And recipients can't tell me they didn't get it anymore, because I know you got it. It's the same with memos and announcements."

He went on to say that he is able to pinpoint who receives certain documents, whether it's just the newer sales reps or everyone, and it has saved several hours and hundreds of dollars per month in paper costs alone. In the long run, the company expects to save $100,000 per year with the new system.

As you can see, for the solution to run successfully, Jones Junction executives needed to partner with a document scanning and management service to ensure it was able to get the most out of a paperless approach.

Paperless revolution comes to Indiana Jones

The paperless revolution is here and many offices are looking for ways to eliminate the stacks of paper from the backroom. Mobile applications and devices are making it easier for businesses to collaborate and share information. This approach is hitting every industry from accountants to archaeologists.

Unsurprisingly, the world of archaeology is not what you see on the big screen with Indiana Jones. There are far fewer action set pieces and more writing down of information and taking pictures. However, there is a new trend of mobile devices and Web portals that is taking paper entirely out of the equation.

A recent CITEWorld article profiled Chicago University PhD student and archaeologist Michael Jennings. Traditional during an excavation, workers take lots of photos, go through multiple notebooks writing notes, drawing sketches and collecting it all in large binders. These stacks are then loaded into luggage and transported around the world. As with any air travel, there is the possibility that that luggage can be lost, which has happened.

This is nothing something Jennings is concerned with. He created a database and mobile application on an iPad that allows him to upload photos and audio, make drawings and write up notes. Through a Web portal, multiple users can watch the updates and add their own.

While these features are a bit more than most businesses need, it does show that even an "old school" occupation like archaeologist can benefit from tossing out the paper and picking up an iPad. Companies can partner with a document scanning and management service to start the transition into the digital realm.