Document Management Software – A Case Manager’s Life Raft
By Hallie Leverich, Marketing Coordinator- Geographic Solutions, Inc.
Paper, paper, and more paper! Every case manager, at one time or another has probably felt as though they were treading water in a sea of documentation. It seems more like a balancing act as they carefully toggle between different software programs in order to scan or upload images of documents and associate them with case files. And as if that weren’t enough, they also carry the burden of security breaches as they manually redact confidential information from case files. Heaven forbid they have to pull a historical file, they may find themselves combing through files in a dimly-lit storage unit…
The simple solution is a Document Management System. Document Management provides staff with an integrated set of tools for inputting images and managing documents associated with workforce and unemployment. The use of these tools will significantly enhance internal employee productivity and improve the services provided to job seekers. Generally, reducing dependence on paper documents improves information availability, increases information security, reduces costs, and has side benefits such as improved business continuity and disaster recovery.
Utilizing a document management solution means that case managers no longer need to toggle between multiple applications to manage documents. In-context, document management stores images in the database, and associates the documents with job seeker records. The solution is ideal for applicant review and monitoring. A document management system provides the ability for a user to interactively upload, manipulate, and attach electronic files to records. All documents and images are then saved securely on the central database.
Within the last year, the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County (California) implemented a document scanning system. They have noticed a significant difference in operating cost, workflow efficiency, and case management.
“The reduction of file folders has been great and we are confident that our files are secure,” says Vivian Timm, MIS Coordinator for the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County. “We have also seen the cost for document storage decline. We shell out a hefty amount of money each month to pay for numerous storage units. Slowly but surely, we have been making headway on putting all of our historical records into the database. It’s been great having records so easily accessible, as sifting through stored records is both time-consuming and difficult. We were recently paid a visit from the monitor with the California EDD and they were both impressed and appreciated the fact that we had everything scanned into a central database.”
The opportunity in document management is limitless. Document Management is the ideal solution for agencies that want to attach existing digital documents to client records for easy access and reference. Based on security privileges, staff may be able to create and/or view stored documents and associate the documents to a specific user record.
Document Management solutions allow staff to attach electronic documents and correspondence, group related documents such as claims and supporting documents, attach documents to specific locations in case management workflow, attach documents to a new or existing case record, store multiple versions of documents, attach supporting documents for eligibility or other reviews, edit, redact, and manipulate documents, share associated documentation with other authorized staff and stakeholders, and conduct eligibility and other monitoring reviews remotely.
Determining Your Needs. For agencies thinking of transitioning to incorporate document management into their workflow, we advise them to do an upfront assessment of exactly what their agency needs.
“When we conducted our own research, we discovered that ‘all-in-one’ printer/scanner devices were a bit cumbersome and slow,” Timm said. “A simple flat bed scanner was our ultimate choice. We realized we just needed to KEEP IT SIMPLE! As humans, we try to complicate things…The scanning and imaging offers so many options that can easily be tailored to any agency’s specific needs.”
Planning Matters. “When executing our mission, we formed a Focus Group made up of different staff members that dealt with all aspects of case management,” Timm said. “Once they were gathered, I advised them what we would be doing and they were trained on system features. We then moved on to picking equipment. We tested a plethora of different scanners to see what would fit our specific needs. The Focus Group continued to meet every two weeks to provide feedback on what they were experiencing or what they wanted to see. As time went on, I noticed that the feedback came in less and less and they really raved about how innovative the program was.”
Getting Started. Documents can be entered into the system and associated with an individual case file by one of two methods:
- An existing document such as a Microsoft Word or an Adobe Acrobat file can be attached to the individual’s account. There is no requirement for software to be present on the user’s workstation to perform a document capture. All functionality takes place server side.
- Document capture also has Fax-to-Image and Direct Email-to-Image capabilities.
Any document can be scanned in real-time using a TWAIN-compliant scanner at the user’s workstation or local network. TWAIN-compliancy is a standard software/hardware protocol and applications programming interface that regulates communication between software applications and imaging devices.
Document Management also enables users to capture metadata tags (indexing) at the point of scan or capture. These tags can be used to locate and identify documents in the future. There is no limitation on the number of indexing fields that can be created.
The capture and indexing of metadata takes place in two modes:
- Bulk Indexing: Takes place via the ScanDox enterprise document capture solution from iDatix. Documents are transferred in bulk to the repository.
- Ad Hoc Indexing: Used when an individual staff member manually indexes the scanned or captured image. If they are managing a client, the image is automatically associated with that individual account.
Users can also index information based on the logged-in user's permission set. The metadata can be adjusted through the browser interface or automatically based upon the integration with the line of business applications. For example, if the client’s last name changes and all documents related to that client need to reflect this, the user will search for the client, select all records, enter the new last name, and submit. Now all documents stored for that individual are instantly updated. Each agency can develop its own naming system.
“We have even taken our Equal Opportunity forms, Grievance forms, and Release of Information forms and scanned them all into case notes, which is a true blessing,” said Timm. “While experimenting with file naming and storage, we found out that ‘less is more’… especially when you have to go back and search for the file name in the database.”
Document management systems should also allow for manipulation and redactions after the scanning or upload occurs. Key features in document manipulation allow the user to reorder, delete, append, or separate pages “on the fly”, as well as drag-and-drop pages into the proper order if scanned out of order.
Once an image is scanned in or uploaded, users can create annotations, redactions, magnifications, drawings, and rotation of the image. For example, if a faxed piece of correspondence is received upside down, the user can rotate the document to the proper orientation within the Web interface.
In today’s world, confidentiality is a must. Document Management gives users the ability to redact confidential information from any image. For example, Social Security numbers can be blacked out and auto-redact capabilities utilized for confidential information that needs to be removed from numerous documents. Staff members with certain permissions may have the ability to view redacted information.
Like everything else, change takes time and getting used to.
“Like with every new policy or procedure that you put in place, staff obviously felt trepidation at first, but now they fully embrace it and have adapted wonderfully. It’s really an exciting thing!” said Timm. “Some of the more tech-savvy employees were really impressed with the functionality. I can guarantee that if I took this away and went back to manual paperwork, my staff would be VERY upset.”
Document Management is a module found within Geographic Solutions’ Virtual OneStop® and Geographic Solutions Unemployment System® (GUS). All of the key features mentioned in this article, are found in both solutions. For more information or a demonstration of the Document Management module, please contact Deane Toler, Marketing Manager at Geographic Solutions, Inc. by phone 831-757-4400 or via email at DToler@geosolinc.com.