Indexing Documents – Don’t Be Afraid To Be Organized!
Document scanning requires a lot of well thought out plans, and methods of organization. You’ll have to make decisions about how you want to keep your digital records (i.e. your server, external hard drive, cd, etc.), do you want them OCR’d, if the hard copies are in color, do you want them scanned in color? These are all decisions that your scanning company will talk to you through, and the really good ones won’t push anything you don’t need!
A really crucial piece of the digital imaging puzzle is how you want to be able to search for these documents once they are saved. The process of titling your saved files is known as indexing. Think of it like saving a word document and giving that word document a name that is relevant to the content, but something easy enough to search for. How does it work? When you scan images, you typically scan a bundle of a time. So if you have 1500 images that need to be scanned, but they’re all different papers that need to be indexed and stored separately, that is no problem. As soon as a scanning company is done scanning, they typically go through what they call a quality control process. It is here that your images are ensured to be PERFECT, and then named to your specifications.
Here are some examples of what you’d get scanned, and how you might want to request they be indexed by:
1) Medical Records: Scanning medical records is a big undertaking. When records are in paper form, you’re at the mercy of the person who does the file backs! You look for them alphabetically and hope that they are there, and in the right order. When you scan them, however, you have a couple choices on how you want to be able to search for them. Maybe last name/first name works well for you. What if you have two patients with the name Chris Smith? That is when you might want to consider adding a search field for D.O.B. In the very rare instance that two patients were born on the same exact day and have the same name, you will need another back up. That is when something like a medical record number comes in handy. If you get in the habit of always searching by a medical record number, you will find the patient that belongs to that unique number.
2) Legal Documents: If you have a bunch of closed cases that you were looking to have archived, you know that you may need to access them at some point. How do you have those rows of documents stored right now? By case number? By defendant vs plaintiff? Or maybe you just have them stacked in boxes in a basement – trust me, I’ve seen it! Think about how you want them organized when you get a few minutes, I bet you’ll find that your ideal way of organization is very feasible!
3) Old Invoices: Not everyone has quickbooks, or a way of digitally documenting what is owed to them, and what they owe people. You are legally required to keep your invoices, and if you create them in a word based program, then you likely print and store them away in a filing cabinet. This is very risky! Scan them and have them indexed by invoice number, or client name.
4) Books: Did you know that you can have your books scanned, without having them destroyed? You can! As long as you are the rightful owner, of course. Books can be scanned and indexed however you want. Title, Volume #, Title Volume & Author – go crazy!
If there are paper records, they can be scanned. Bills, vet receipts, recipes, construction documentation – think outside the box. Don’t be a slave to paper because you don’t think there is an easier way to store it – keeping them electronically may actually streamline your productivity in ways you never thought possible.