How much training does it take to become a document imaging specialist? There is more to being a document imaging specialist than just running a scanner. The job requires an understanding of how to organize and archive documents, cataloging, indexing, and more. It also requires technical expertise in managing document imaging hardware as well as how to manage enterprise data storage and other archival media, such as tape drives, CDs, cloud data storage, etc. And then there are special considerations such as how to manage electronic medical records (EMR) or sensitive accounting and business documents.
With the expansion of electronic data storage and retrieval, there is an increasing demand for document imaging specialists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the market for document imaging specialists will grow on average of 12 percent through 2018. Where the role of document imaging used to be delegated to office clerks, there are new positions emerging that require highly specialized training.
What is a Document Imaging Specialist?
The document imaging specialist is responsible for managing the process of digitizing paper documents for storage in an electronic archive or database. This means documents have to be assessed for scanning quality to make sure they are legible. They also need to be catalogued using keywords and scanner codes so they can be properly archived for later search and retrieval.
The document imaging specialist also needs to be current with privacy laws and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which has specific guidelines on how to categorize, store, and secure patient data. Each industry has its own regulatory issues for data retrieval, e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley for business regulations and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for financial service firms.
In addition to developing document management policies and best practices, the document imaging professional also is responsible for equipment management and maintenance. They should be trained in how to use and maintain the scanning equipment, and have a working knowledge of enterprise and cloud storage is essential to secure document storage and retrieval.
Different Needs for Different Markets
The role of document imaging specialist will vary with the specific industry or market being serviced.
Medical record-keeping, for example, requires the document imaging specialist to be familiar with EMR and regulatory compliance. And the document imaging professional is responsible for making vital medical records available to doctors in a format that can be accessed using secure terminals or mobile devices. Typically, medical document imaging professionals have to handle doctor contracts, business documents, and other sensitive paperwork in addition to medical records.
The financial services industry has its own unique set of data archiving and retrieval needs. Increasingly, financial institutions are adopting paperless processes using business process management (BPM) software. The document imaging specialist needs to make sure that loan applications, mortgage paperwork, and other forms are properly loaded for processing. And, of course, financial records need to be tracked and securely archived for later retrieval or in the event of an audit.
Government agencies use document imaging technology extensively to reduce paper and organize critical information for easy access. The role of the document imaging specialist will often include specialized duties, such as managing record-keeping, maintaining a publicly accessible data archive or Web site, and even preparing scanned document for legislative review or as evidence in a court case.
Where to Find Training
To qualify as a document imaging specialist you need two kinds of training, training in document imaging protocols and document management, and technical training in scanning systems and enterprise data management.
There are certification classes available for specific markets, including classes. For example, the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) also offers a document imaging certification, and Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) offers a number of training and certification programs. The Clinical Documentation Specialist (CDS) is an emerging job category that has been created to deal with EMR and electronic record-keeping. There has been a 223 percent increase in demand for CDS candidates with the passage of new healthcare reform legislation. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) offers a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) credential. College degrees also are available in Health Information Management, which includes a Clinical Documentation Specialist Certification.
And each scanner manufacturer offers its own training and management programs. Depending on the type of equipment you are using and its enterprise capabilities, you can receive training in the operation and maintenance of any type of document imaging system. The more technical know-how you can accumulate, the greater your value.
Depending on your market, having credentials as a document imaging specialist could provide the additional edge you need to expand document imaging sales and support to your customers. Why not consider looking into a certification program to expand your expertise and your sales?