The evolution of communications over the past decade and an explosion of intuitive technology have meant that flexible working and a 24/7 working culture is becoming more routine. In 2014, the government introduced the right of flexible working to all UK employees with more than six months service. Employees are now actively seeking flexible working opportunities and the improved work/life balance this can bring, and employers are seeing the benefits in a happier and more productive workforce.
Digitisation of records has therefore become a business-critical issue, particularly within the NHS, financial and legal organisations, the public sector and companies that are reliant on legacy records. But, what is the process for developing effective electronic document storage solutions?
Collate and Catalogue
The first challenge for a lot of companies is understanding what needs to be digitised. It’s important to implement a complete document management process that begins by cataloguing your material. After an overview of the volume and content of the files, you need to organise your files in a clear, systematic way. If you are outsourcing this part (or indeed any part of this process), it is essential to ensure that document-handling staff have been approved by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS checks have now replaced the old CRB checks).
Once everything has been sorted out and clearly labelled, you can then decide what to do with each information packet. Files generally fall into one of three categories:
1) Documents that are actively required and therefore need to be digitised immediately.
2) Files that should to go into archive storage for retrieval in the event they are required later.
3) Records that can or must be securely destroyed.
Sort and Code
Next, the documents should be boxed in date-order for efficient on-demand retrieval. Each file and the box in which it is stored must be individually coded, and the most efficient way is to use barcodes. The code identifies the specific records contained in that box; making retrieval easy and accurate. There are a variety of options, but at CAS we use state-of-the-art Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID is one of the most advanced systems and provides new levels of accuracy and efficiency far beyond standard barcode management. RFID systems support strict compliance regulations — including UK and EU privacy requirements and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) — by providing audit reports that confirm and validate the location of every RFID carton in storage. Whether you are storing documents at your location or an off-site facility, each box must be scanned when being deposited or removed from storage, and the information catalogued providing an accurate audit which can be accessed 24/7.
Prepare and Scan
Of course, you then need to be able to access live-documents digitally so they have to be prepared for scanning. Each file should be handled by an experienced document management professional. Did you know that the average medical record contains approximately 175 pages; kept together with around 40 paper clips and staples. Those all need to be removed before scanning. As well as the obvious file pages, any additional items such as added notes and post-its should also be scanned as they may contain critical information or amendments that were not added to the formal file. Once the preparation is complete, files can be scanned, coded the digital record added to a virtual record library. The original records are then returned to their storage box. Remember to use appropriate document storage boxes; the best are triple-walled and tough!
Store and Digitally Retrieve
Once scanned and added to an online document storage library, your employees can access and edit the file. The asset library will need to be hosted on high-grade servers to ensure 99.999% accessibility. Ideally, any activity performed on a document should be recorded in an audit trail to ensure thorough compliance with document and data storage and management legislation. If you are choosing an external supplier for electronic document storage solutions, the key ISO accreditations to look out for are:
- ISO 15489 Information and Documentation — Records Management.
- ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management.
- ISO/IEC 27001 Information Technology, Security Techniques and Information Security Management.
- ISO 14001 Environmental Management.
Collate and catalogue; sort and code; prepare and scan; store and digitally retrieve — the four core stages for effective electronic document storage solutions.
Find out how CAS helped Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS), to undertake a project to relocate and digitise over 20,000 confidential client health care files.
About Danny Clark
Danny has been working with clients for more than 20 years to store securely and manage their critical business documents. He continues to innovate to ensure CAS provides clients with a reliable bespoke service that meets their document digitisation, information storage and facilities management needs.
About Clarks CAS
CAS provides comprehensive and secure electronic document storage solutions and facilities management services. For more than 20 years CAS have worked with NHS Trusts, Financial Services providers, and corporate and private clients. Our head office is just four miles from the City of London, supported by our advanced storage centres across the UK. CAS has an impressive array of International certifications (ISOs), which prove our compliance with the strictest national, European and international laws. They also demonstrate our commitment to provide innovative systems on security, confidentiality and quality control in keeping your files safe and well managed.