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How Data Capture Solutions are Changing Document Management

September 18, 2017

As organizations continue to generate more information, effective document management becomes more important. Documents need to be categorized, tracked, and filed in a manner that keeps them secure and accessible, which is why data capture solutions are gaining popularity for document management.

There are different kinds of data capture solutions, including scanners that convert paper documents into electronic files using optical character recognition (OCR) software. Once a document is converted to an electronic document it can be tagged and stored using digital file management methods. However, other types of data capture solutions, such as barcodes and QR codes, are increasingly being used to catalog and track paper documents.

Industry statistics show that the number of documents in the average business continues to grow at 22 percent annually, doubling in less than three-and-a-half years. More than 15 percent of the average knowledge worker’s time is spent creating, managing, and distributing documents, and 30 to 40 percent of his or her time is spent searching for documents.

Using data capture solutions to automate document management results in better tracking of business-critical paperwork and fewer lost or misfiled documents; an especially important consideration if you need to comply with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, FINRA, or HIPAA.

Here is a brief overview of some of the data capture solutions for document management.

Applications for Data Capture Solutions

Data capture solutions can be applied in any number of ways. For example, it can be time consuming to scan paper documents and use OCR technology to convert the paper information to digital data. And OCR technology may not be reliable for certain types of documents. For example, how do you apply OCR to images or blueprints for archival storage since they don’t have text? Even if you scan images of paper files, once those files are stored in a database they become invisible and aren’t searchable. To find them you have to remember the name of the file.

Using a data capture solution such as a barcode reader allows you to store details about the file contents in a machine-readable form, either as meta data or even as portions of the actually text. Using data capture technology to identify paper files makes it easier to organize and store them without fear of losing them.

Or consider a case where you have multiple documents and forms associated with the same project. The medical profession, for example, has started to adopt barcode readers to track patient information. Barcode identifiers provide details about the patient, including some medical history, and bar-code labels can be affixed to charts, forms, and lab work. These kinds of data capture solutions are simplifying electronic health records (EHR).

Barcode Readers

Barcodes and barcode scanners have been part of retail transactions for a long time. Using coding software, barcodes can hold product information such as product features, price information, stocking information, etc., all based on what you program into the barcode.

The same data capture solutions can be readily applied to document management. Information can be barcoded to create a meta tag for any file document. Barcoding gives you the versatility to program anything you want into the tracking system.

In the case of our medical records example, consider how Cook’s Children’s Health Care System is using barcodes to automatically update EHRs with vaccination data. Even the tiniest vial of vaccine can be coded to contain batch and manufacturing data, and the vaccine is scanned and then linked to the patient using another barcode scan; not only are the patient records complete but the file now contains more information about the drugs administered than you could capture manually.

QR and Matrix Code Readers

For more data-intensive applications, matrix code and QR code data capture systems can store more information. These 2D barcodes can store text or other information to describe documents, or even create links to external locations. QR codes, for example, have been gaining popularity in marketing to direct consumers to company websites using smartphone QR readers. The same approach can be used to link specific documents to web-based archives or document indices.

One of the advantages of 2D barcodes is they are less prone to problems if damaged. Since the 2D barcodes include redundant data, up to 30 percent of the code can be damaged or missing and it can still be deciphered. In general, the larger the barcode, the less likely it can be damaged to the point where it is unreadable.

Data capture solutions in any format can become an integral part of any document management strategy. It’s just a matter of finding the right data capture solution and customizing it to meet your needs.