Last week there was a story in USA Today about how the healthcare industry is using computer algorithms to try to bring new insight from patient medical records.
One program being tested in Palo Alto (News - Alert), Calif., near Silicon Valley, tries to help doctors make better decisions by looking both at a patient’s medical records and the data from other patients and their treatments.
Other programs focus more on being able to search through data better.
The first step in being able to perform this kind of analysis, however, whether in the healthcare industry or a different field entirely, is getting the records digitized. This is not as hard for the healthcare industry because it is becoming a mandatory part of the way healthcare is now handled, but in many fields it still is a sizeable hurdle that keeps data from being properly utilized.
There are many ways to go about getting the data in a digital form, but one good way to start is by cutting down on non-digital data. The first step is stopping the paper-making juggernaut, basically, and then older documents can be made digital at a more leisurely pace.
Cutting down on non-digital documents largely comes from moving away from paper invoices, cutting down on printing, and quitting the paper fax habit.
Using electronic invoices is easy, so I won’t go into that; all it really takes to start sending digital invoices in 2014 is the will to do so.
Moving away from paper fax also is relatively easy: Companies don’t need to stop faxing entirely, they just need to move to a fax-over-IP solution such as that offered by FaxSIPit. This allows businesses to send and receive faxes digitally.
The hard part is cutting down on printing.
While there are many ways to attack printer use, one good technique involves making the printing process inconvenient. Employees still can print if they want, but it isn’t as easy as hitting the print button.
This can be achieved by moving the printer to the farthest corner of the office, and setting it up so print jobs require moving files to a computer connected to the printer—not having the printer connected to every workstation the way that printer manufacturers envision.
Yes, making it harder to print is backwards in a way. But it is the only way to truly kick the habit of paper and move into the future.
Search and analysis of documents increasingly is important for businesses of all types, and that means these documents must be in a digital form—not on paper.
Unless that paper is e-paper, of course.