Posted Thursday, September 17, 2015 by Greg Tipping

The ‘90s Called and They Want Their Paper Back

Your current document management system isn’t working.

That’s a bold statement, I know, but why else would your caseworkers still be buried in paper and creating workarounds that generate even more paper? Consider these possible reasons.

  • Was your document management system designed well in the first place?
  • Is your system up to date with current work processes?
  • Has your system kept pace with the latest technology?

Whatever the reason, if your current document management system creates or relies on paper, it’s probably causing you to struggle to meet mandated requirements for timeliness, accuracy, and participation.

Think about this question: Do caseworkers have difficulty quickly processing applications and redeterminations because they have trouble scanning the document into the right place in the system or retrieving the right document from the system once it’s entered? When they can’t find what they need quickly and easily, they end up recreating paper-based files – defeating the purpose of the document management system. This whole duplicative process takes time away from serving clients and jeopardizes your ability to meet mandates.

As a result, clients are forced to provide the same information to multiple caseworkers and workers continue making paper copies because they can’t trust they’ll be able to find a document when they need it again.

At the same time, you’re being asked to provide greater access to services, and your clients are expecting to get information how and when they want it. That means you want to provide clients all new options to interact and submit documents with things like smart phone apps and self-service portals that don’t require them to come into an office. This adds a whole new level of complexity to your document management challenges that wasn’t even fathomed when your current system was implemented.

Workers are frustrated. Clients are frustrated. Your system is broken.

So, what can you do about it?

You need to invest in a document management system that is more than the typical scan, store, and retrieve. Here are the key features of a modern, efficient document management system:

  • A document taxonomy that makes sense for human services. When documents are indexed into logical groups, caseworkers can quickly and easily retrieve documents to process applications and redeterminations and avoid lost documents.
  • Documents that are accessible throughout the entire organization. Whether a document comes in through the mailroom, the front desk, a lobby kiosk, a worker’s office, a client’s home, or a client portal, documents should be immediately routed and accessible to anyone in the organization. This helps workers quickly process benefits and supervisors answer questions right away.
  • A Master Client Index (MCI) that associates documents to an individual, not a case. When document management systems use a MCI to link a single instance of a document to all cases related to a specific individual, anyone in the organization can get a full picture of every case and document associated to a client. This allows caseworkers to provide client-centered service delivery.

At Northwoods, we pride ourselves on being the experts in document management for human services. Check out this 1-minute video to learn how we can help you stop all the workarounds.

Greg Tipping Greg Tipping is the Chief Services Officer for Northwoods, where he is responsible for project implementations throughout the country.