Are you the owner of a large business or organization that has a monstrous amount of paperwork that needs to be maintained? Starting your own business in itself involves a lot of documentation, let alone all of the records that must be kept on file for future reference, such as client information, licensing, certifications, transaction receipts, and more.
The difference between documents and records is important because records are historical files that provide proof of existence and require retention based on your type of business and location.
Advancements in technology have brought about multiple options for any entity in need of a records management system. For some, sticking with a paper filing system is the most plausible solution. However, this option ends up using a lot of space over time.
For companies that have been open for a number of years, making the switch to an all-electronic solution is a large project that could end up taking years to complete. Seems like a lose-lose situation, doesn’t it? Don’t fret, there is another option.
What is a Hybrid Records Management System?
Rather than having to make the decision between having only hard-copy records or an electronic document management system (DMS), a hybrid records management system allows you to utilize both paper and digital formats of your files.
Why Keep Paper AND Electronic Copies of Your Records?
There are a number of reasons that a business may prefer to keep paper copies of certain records, such as ensuring that confidential information can only be found on one specific piece of documentation, easily being able to update the information contained, or simply because of ease of use—everyone knows how to use paper.
Electronic systems offer a number of other benefits that can help to improve the efficiency and security of your records. Maintaining electronic copies of your records keeps them protected in the case of a disaster at your location, makes searching for specific information much faster, and provides you with the option to limit access to certain data.
With a hybrid system, some of your documents are kept in hard-copy format while others are scanned and converted to a digital format. Hybrid management systems combine paper records with either a document imaging, server- or cloud-based electronic system.
The benefit of using a combination of the two systems is to maximize your cost-efficiency. For records you rarely use, it doesn’t make sense to pay to scan them, and so it would be better to keep hard copies of them and store them offsite for less money.
What is the Difference Between Each of the Electronic System Options?
Because there are a few different options when it comes to the electronic system that will be utilized alongside your hard-copy records, here is how each one is differentiated from the next:
- Document Imaging — This option is the simplest form of retaining electronic copies of your records. Document imaging refers to the scanning of paper records to a single computer file, which is ideal for small businesses that need to open up more office space.
- Server-Based DMS — This system also scans your paper records to an electronic format, but rather than saving these files to a single computer, they are sent to a server that is shared between multiple computers within the same building. These servers allow multiple people to access the same information given the appropriate level of access.
- Cloud-Based DMS — Similar to server-based systems, a cloud storage system provides you with an increased level of access to your records. However, with cloud storage, your records are sent to an internet server — meaning you can access the information from any computer in any location that you are able to obtain an internet connection.
Determining which system is best depends on the size of your organization, as well as the product or service you offer. For example, a hospital or other medical practice may think twice about utilizing document imaging for the management of its records because of the limited accessibility of information.
Tips for Making the Transition
Having a plan in place for implementing a hybrid management system will greatly reduce the time and stress spent on the transition. One hospital that made the decision to implement a hybrid records management system is discussed in the magazine For the Record in an article titled “Hybrid Medical Records Are Here to Stay” by Robert N. Mitchell.
Rochester General Hospital created a plan before beginning the process of scanning their hard-copy records to electronic format. They started with ER documents, then scanned in their lab and ancillary reports, followed by typed records. Furthermore, they also made it a goal to have future incoming records scanned into the system within 24 hours of patient discharge.
Service Options That Will Improve the Conversion Process
There are a couple of services that will help to ease the transitional process. With day-forward scanning, you choose a date to start scanning in all of your records. Moving forward, any new documents received should be scanned into your system. This allows you to continue business-as-usual operations, scanning in older documents as needed.
Records storage facilities provide space outside of your own office building for you to store any records that are not needed on a regular basis. There are document storage facilities that will maintain paper copies of your records, and tape storage options that will save copies of your records onto backup tapes. As you sort through your documents and records, determine which ones might be best to store off site.
Another important point made by the Health Information Management (HIM) director at RGH is to choose which format your organization will define as the legal record. For instance, if a record is kept in both paper and digital format, which will be used in the case of a legal exchange? This will help you to choose which documents to scan, and which ones to save as paper copies.
Is a Hybrid Document Management Solution the Answer You’ve Been Looking For? Call Us Today!
If you’re ready to make the switch to a hybrid system, Record Nations can take the headache out of the process. We offer customized solutions and competitive pricing in order to provide you with the most affordable option available.
To get started, take a minute to fill out the form to the right or give us a call at (866) 385-3706. Within minutes of speaking with our agent, you will be connected with local contractors in your area that will provide free, no-obligations quotes for your project.