Content Capture Considered

Here's how more organizations are going from paper to electronic content management

October 20, 2006

4 Min Read
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It's one thing to talk about compliance when you're working with documents stored on tape or disk -- another to do so when all you've got is a mountain of paper.

Yet paper records aren't immune from the regulator's audit, and a growing number of organizations are facing the task of converting the piles of processed pulp into manageable electronic form. The migration nearly always involves a big commitment to new technology.

Such was the case with Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), one of New Jersey's largest medical complexes, which was finding its in-house document management system too slow to keep pace with patient records.

To ensure HIPAA compliance and accommodate the burgeoning volume of new information, the hospital turned to a service provider, Archive Systems, that set up a schedule for picking up the hospital's records in a truck, taking them to a safe haven, scanning and barcoding them for record-keeping, and setting up a service whereby medical staff can request images of specific documents on the corporate intranet.

This kind of service, which is also offered by the likes Lason, Sourcecorp, and Xerox Global Services in the U.S., isn't for everyone. While there is no information about the arrangements HUMC made with Archive Systems, any sizeable records management project isn't cheap. If a document repository and automated system is set up, there can often be up-front costs ranging from $50,000 up. Ongoing fees can include five-figure monthly rates.Is it worth it? Compared with what it would cost to do a similar system in-house, it just might be. That's because a good document conversion and management system comprises a number of elements, which usually come from different vendors. These include:

  • A physical scanner from Bell and Howell, Canon, Fujitsu, Kodak, or Xerox, for example.

  • Software that creates an interface for capturing scanned documents. This is where vendors such as Anydocs, CA, Captovation, Datacap, EMC Captiva, IBM, and Kofax come in.

  • Software (from the same vendors as above) that creates metadata for captured images, indexes them, and stores them in a...

  • Backend document management system, such as EMC's Documentum, Hyland Software, IBM, Stellant, and Vignette, to name just a few.

Considering that an investment in Captiva alone can range anywhere from several hundred to several hundred thousand dollars, the outlay on going it la carte could easily match or exceed the cost of a service.

At least one vendor also cautions that there's no guarantee that sophisticated equipment will always scan accurately. "Companies will sometimes implement software to capture scanned images, but still have a human being going back through everything to make sure it's recorded accurately," says Jason Lamon, director of marketing communications at Captovation.

Here's where the VARs come in. While not offering the kind of service that Archive Systems or Xerox Global Services do, a range of value-added resellers nonetheless can glom together a document conversion and management system using multiple products, which they support. Examples include AMI/PMI Imaging, of Florida and New Jersey, and DTI Integrated Business Solutions in Greensboro, N.C.

Whatever approach is taken, it's clear that a market for document conversion and management is building across a range of industries. And it's not just a matter of getting your records straight for the regulators. In many cases, a conversion from paper to digital is a matter of efficiency.That was the case when Federated Insurance picked Captovation's Web-based tool to speed up its health insurance claims process. "Our old process of sending the documents to corporate took a few days," said Randy Bennett, senior programmer/analyst at Federated, in a prepared statement. "The claims process was taking too long to fully satisfy our external customers, and it was also frustrating for our internal system users because the images could not be accessed quickly." By using Captovation's browser-based software to send scanned images into the central document management system, the company streamlined the whole process.

— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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