Posts Tagged ‘records information management’
Managing Productivity Problems in Alphabetical and Straight Numeric File Systems
If you’ve been using an alphabetical or a straight numeric filing system to organize your medical charts or company’s records, you may want to consider the benefits of terminal digit filing or end digit filing. To determine if end digit or terminal digit filing can benefit your organization, ask yourself if you can identify with any of the following statements.
- Do you experience misfiles in your alphabetical filing system due to clerks filing names incorrectly or have to constantly train staff on how to file alphabetically?
- Do you have a difficult time evenly and equally distributing the workload to your file clerks for productivity?
- Do you need to backshift files periodically to make room in your file shelving after purging records?
Problems with Alphabetical Filing SystemsYou would think alphabetical filing would be easy to set up and manage, but alphabetical filing systems can be very difficult to maintain. Some of the problems with alphabetical filing systems are:
- Difficulty in managing where file growth will occur in your filing system resulting in periodic reorganizing and shifting of files to make room for file growth.
- Misfiled information due to confusion in how to file certain names
Below are some alphabetical filing situations that can cause confusion and hamper the productivity of your records management:
- When a file name includes two surnames – the mother’s and father’s last names – rather than a first, middle, and last name
- If several files have the same name (such as Tom Jones or Mary Smith)
- Determining if Mc names come before or after Mac names
- Patients who go by their middle name instead of their first name or patients with hyphenated names
Problems with Straight Numeric Filing Systems
Straight numeric filing systems identify each patient with a unique number, eliminating any confusion about which file or patient chart you are looking with an alphabetical filing system. The main problem with a straight numeric filing system is distribution the workload evenly and equally among your staff and reorganizing and shifting files after purging records. Also, with any numeric filing system you need a cross reference database to connect the patient or company name to the file number.
Benefits of Terminal Digit Filing and End Digit Filing
Terminal digit filing, or end digit filing, makes more sense for managing large quantities of records. Terminal digit and end digit filing allows files to expand at a controlled rate, eliminating the need to shift files after purging older records. Depending on how you set up your terminal digit filing system, the last two, three, or four digits of the file number are treated as a single number. Since all numbers in the file are sorted by their ending digits, equal sections can be set up in your file shelving containing the same number of folders, so work can be divided up evenly amongst your file staff. Terminal digit filing does not change the numeric file labels, it just reorganizes the files in such a way that allows you to better manage your filing system.
If you are considering the advantages of converting to a terminal digit or end digit filing system, call us today at 1-800-803-1083 or contact us, and one of our records management experts will call you to discuss your filing requirements.
With the influx of compliance, e-discovery and retention policies, many organizations are desperately seeking to stifle their RIM (Records & Information Management) woes. More often than not, organizations try to fix information management problems at the end of the life cycle without understanding the beginning of the records creation process. Implementing a RIM audit program will help provide solutions that will alleviate record keeping issues at the end of the life cycle. Whether you conduct a RIM inventory/audit yourself or hire an outside resource, the following is a minimum starting place for development of a sound RIM audit program.
Identify file/document types within each department that are being created. Often times you will find they are not necessarily in line with your retention schedule; something you don’t want to find out in a litigation scenario.
How Are Records Being Created?
How are these records being created and indexed? Are electronic documents printed and filed? Understanding how records are created plays a significant role in solving the mystery of how to manage the information and develop a consistent process that takes the guesswork away from the end user and defines the life cycle of the record. Doing it right in the beginning of the life cycle allows technology solutions to take care of it at the end.
Where are the documents being stored? Are there duplicate copies unaccounted for? Lack of confidence in corporate record policies and process drives us to create multiple copies of documents so that we always have access. The problem is that when it’s time to apply retention schedules, how do we ensure that we have included the plethora of rogue copies? Understanding where these documents are, and implementing a process for the creation and retrieval of them, along with good training, will help alleviate this issue.
When Does a Record Become a Record?
Too often, documents are neither indexed nor classified until the middle or end of the life cycle. They live in a limbo state often referred to as “working documents”. Documenting and understanding when your end users create records will help define your record policy and ensure that the organizations intellectual property is identified and secured.
Why Do We Do It This Way?
Undoubtedly the most important question to consider when conducting the audit is “why”! “Why do you do it this way?” And the most common answer is….”Because we’ve always done it that way!” Understanding “why” is the first step in improving your records management program and changing the culture of your organization.
Conducting a RIM Audit will provide upper management the information they need to make better enterprise wide decisions for your business.
For more information about how Southwest Solutions Group can help you through the maze of Records and Information Management, call 1-800-803-1083 or click here to contact us.
Document imaging can be a powerful tool but is only a small piece of a records information management (RIM) system. Using document imaging solely for the purpose of solving problems is not practical. The most efficient and logical use of document imaging is for documents that have a high retrieval rate by multiple users, especially in remote areas. Making sure your application is right for document imaging is the first step in the process.
Planning to Image Documents
There are a few basic questions that should be asked (answered) before investigating the implementation of an imaging system:
- What documents do you want to image?
- What is the retrieval rate of these documents (how often are they accessed?)
- How many people access these documents?
- What do you see as the benefits of having these documents available electronically?
More often than not, if the answers to the first three questions are sufficient, determine if further investigation is sensible. However, the fourth question is vital in in starting to address the return on investment question that will undoubtedly come next.
If having certain documents available electronically aids in the level of customer service, then you could well be on your way to implementing an imaging system. If, however, many of the benefits include issues such as “no more lost or mis-filed items”, then you are probably attempting to drink soup with a fork!
When used specifically to address issues of retrieval and multiple accesses, document imaging is a solid solution. There are also times when certain documents are included in the imaging process as a convenience to upper management. This can be a valid solution for VP’s who have a heavy travel schedule and the need for vital documents on a regular basis. It also provides security for original vital documents without sacrificing access to the information these documents contain.
If you do move forward with an imaging system, keeping the index system concise and as limited as possible keeps the system user friendly and cost efficient. Scanning documents is easy and scanners are relatively inexpensive. The question is will anyone ever be able to find the document after it has been scanned? Also, remember that you must put your files in order before you scan. An inefficient paper based filing system will translate into a messier electronic document system!
Retaining Documents After Scanning
As for keeping the originals, that depends on what is scanned. If only certain documents are scanned from a file and miscellaneous correspondence or other documentation must be kept, then you might as well keep the scanned original. What is more important is that both the paper and the image is part of a comprehensive retention schedule.
For more information on document imaging and retention scheduling, call us toll free at 1-800-803-1083 or visit www.ssgims.com!