There are a number of different benefits that organizations have been able to reap by adopting a paperless office. While saving space and money could be reasons enough to implement the system, if the solution can help save people lives, why are you waiting?
John Meharg, the director of health information technology at Norman Regional Health System, was interviewed by the AARP about one of the hospitals that uses their electronic medical record system, the Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma. When a massive tornado hit the area last week, 300 people hunkered down in the hospital for safety. The hospital was completely destroyed, but no one was hurt.
Hundreds of patients needed to be transferred to new facilities and because of the digital records, the move was seamless. Had the facility not adopted EHRs early on, this would have been a much different outcome.
"The first thing we would have had to do was find their records. And with all of the hustle and bustle of a disaster, they can easily get lost," Meharg said. He added that for the records that would be left behind "if the tornado doesn't get them, the subsequent rain would ruin them. The roof's gone, the walls are gone, and the windows are gone."
One of the first steps to going paperless is to partner with a document scanning and management service provide to convert existing files into a digital format. This will make sure that in the aftermath of a disaster, important records will not be lost.
As the headlines from across the country have shown, there are a number of specific markets that are adopting a paperless office mentality more quickly than others. Near the top of that list is school systems and local governments.
A recent article in the New Hampshire Union Leader features an interview with Nashua, NH Alderman Brian McCarthy, where he talks about the reasons he believes it is time to "join the 21st century" and go paperless.
McCarthy, the board president, has drafted a proposal that would eliminate the sometimes 100-page weekly packet that is distributed to each board member. In its place will be electronic documentation and city or personally owned tablet devices.
"We have cut back on paper packets substantially, but I am hoping to decrease our paper waste even more," McCarthy told the news source. "Even if we replace the tablets every two years, which could be about $3,700, at that rate our paper bills are actually twice that amount. I think we can do a better service at less cost."
Once the devices are in place, city agendas, meeting minutes and other pertinent packets, presentations and messages will be distributed digitally. This will also allow board members to easily check past meeting material and look up the city charter to review any pending ordinances and resolutions.
If the proposal is approved, the city will need to partner with a document scanning and management service for a helping hand turning all of the existing packets into a digital file.
While technology is finding a home in a number of different businesses and electronic documentation and communication seems to be on the rise, . However, there is still an abundance of paper in the current office space. However, this is starting to shift.
A recent article from Sustainable Industries, a business to business media group for sustainable entrepreneurs, examined the ways that going paperless can help companies.
The piece cites an FDE study that found global volume of purchasing documents is closing in on 150 billion per year, with invoices representing up to 50 percent of the total outbound paper volume. The article also mentions additional research that shows a significant number of Americans plan to reduce their paper consumption over the next five to ten years.
"Going paperless is a sustainability concept that is easy to grasp and implement," the article reads. "It is also rewarding because employees and management learn sustainable processes and see results. Specifically, a long term benefit is that by taking actions to incorporate sustainable business practices of going paperless, it reorients thought processes and business approaches to view other areas of the business with a sustainable mindset."
The piece adds that companies that have gone paperless have experienced reduced consumption, eliminated storage space, saved money and improved worker productivity and the availability of employees who work remotely.
One of the first things that businesses should consider is partnering with a document scanning and management service to start the process of converting current paperwork to a digital realm.
For anyone not familiar with the advances in today's technology, the thought of a paperless office means scanning all documents to improve document storage and free up some space, but not much more than that. It is easy to understand why this may be the case, but converting old documents to a digital format and getting incoming information through electronic forms can open up a new way of doing business and its name is Big Data.
It today's digital world, the access to raw information is growing and what is contained in physical documents can be invaluable data in this new age. A recent article from Computer Weekly examined how this is the case.
"Paper-based information is not often thought about in today's Big Data picture, which tends to focus on the proliferation of unstructured data from sources such as blogs, social media and video that is growing at exponential rates compared to traditional enterprise data," the article reads. "Yet paper documents are an important part of corporate business operations, often containing valuable information that must be captured, stored, organized and analyzed."
Despite how much experts build it up, paper is still a critical part of how many of today's business run and ignoring that in a Big Data solutions is a mistake.
To take advantage of "big paper" businesses first need a document scanning and management solution. This could mean partnering with a bulk scanning service to convert existing paperwork. Once that is complete, the data can be integrating it into a business intelligence solution that can start breaking down the information and finding important trends.
Imagine being a business with 1,000 empty three ring binders that are no longer needed, and hoping the local school system and an area non-profit can use them. This is a problem than a law office is having after getting rid of all their paper files.
A recent article from Environment Expert profiled McDivitt Law Firm in Colorado and its almost two-year process to become a paperless operation.
"[This is] a big accomplishment for any organization, but one particularly onerous for law firms that house thousands of confidential legal documents," the article reads. "Each document requires particular care and attention to ensure everything is properly logged and maintained throughout the transition to a paperless office."
The firm started scanning papers into an online document management system in June of 2011. So far they have cleaned out over a thousand three-inch binders containing roughly 456,000 sheets of paper.
Executives decided that a paperless office was needed when a growing need to increase efficiency as a staff had grown 40 percent over the last year across all three locations. Moving to a centralized locations for document storage, is saving time, money and office space to house the growing headcount.
Now the company has donated the empty binders to the Colorado Springs school district, Habitat for Humanity and the non-profit organization TESSA. The law firm has made a charitable donation that was born out of a standard business need to become more efficient and scalable.