Magazine Article | May 24, 2009

Document Management Solution Banishes Paper Woes

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

An ambulance service company saves labor, supplies, and storage space by replacing its paper patient files with electronic ones.

Integrated Solutions, May/June 2009
Reducing the amount of paper your business stores and handles is a goal many companies aspire to. For National EMS, it was becoming a necessity. "We are approaching 40,000 ambulance runs a year, each of which generates a new patient record," says Robby Atkins, VP of National EMS. "We need four copies of every patient record, so the amount of paper we were handling on a daily basis was becoming unsustainable. We were inundated with big filing cabinets, and our employees were spending too much time searching through paper files." The company provides statewide and local services for emergency medical care, nonemergency services, dispatch services, neonatal care, critical care, EMS training, and a variety of other services.

Atkins discussed his desire to get out from under his mountain of paper records with his IT provider, Doug Smith of Computer Troubleshooters, who recommended that National EMS move to a comprehensive document management solution that could digitize and integrate all of the company's operations. The VAR recommended Cabinet NG Shared Access Filing Environment (CNG-SAFE), which consolidates all of a company's information into one electronic system. "We recommended CNG-SAFE after research of competing products and found their product to be robust and user-friendly for the pricing," explains Smith. "When we started narrowing the field down, we attended the CNG user conference so we could speak to end users. Even users that experienced problems sang the praises of CNG and how the company supported them. It was enough to make us decide to become a dealer."

The CNG-SAFE product is specifically designed for small to medium enterprises, so it isn't loaded with features more suitable to larger enterprises. It provides shared access to all of a company's documents, regardless of format, origin, or application, and it does so with customizable security controls, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to specific folders and documents. This is critical for a healthcare company such as National EMS, which must be able to demonstrate compliance with HIPAA requirements. Finally, Atkins notes that a big selling point for National EMS was the CNG-SAFE interface, which is based on a traditional paper-based filing system using cabinets, folders, and documents. This made it easy for the ambulance company's employees to transition to the new system.

With CNG-SAFE in place, National EMS is creating and storing all new patient records electronically. Plus, the company scanned its existing patient files into the system so all patient files are accessible on the network. "When an employee needs to find a particular file, instead of walking to the file cabinet and digging through it, they can simply call it up from their computer," says Atkins.

The system has been in place less than three months, so Atkins does not yet have quantifiable ROI to report. However, he says he's already seen labor efficiencies in the billing department, as well as reductions in expenditures for paper and other supplies. "Our billing department has reduced their time spent creating new documents, not to mention filing, copying, and retrieving documents," says Atkins. "Plus, we're no longer burning up the copy machine."

"And we haven't even begun to touch many of the possibilities," he adds. "We started with the billing department, because that was our biggest paper user. However, we can see how it will help us in accounts payable, HR, and our training department, where we maintain detailed and extensive records of all the training our employees have undergone." Atkins points out that, although the solution was not inexpensive, he is confident he will recoup his investment. "It was a big expense for us to get it started," he says. "But in the long run — I think by the second or third year — it will be well worth its while, based on the savings in labor, supplies, and storage space."