Since the 1980s, offices have been dreaming about going paperless. Fast-forward 30+ years and many offices remain just as reliant on paper as they did then. All of that paper results in clutter, cutting down trees, and difficulties finding specific documents. It’s time to go paperless.
There are many apps, scanners, and digital storage options available today that allow you to digitize and store your papers quickly. When you factor in the prevalence of smartphones, PDFs, and electronic forms and signatures, going paperless is easier than ever. Businesses that have gone this route have cited cost savings, environmental friendliness, increased efficiency in document retrieval, and reduced storage and filing space as key benefits of going paperless.
The key to going paperless is managing information. You’ll need to standardize practices of storage, security, and organization to succeed. Here are the ways that a scanner, smartphone, and some cloud storage will allow you to convert the stack of papers on your desk into a paperless wonderland.
1. Stop Paper Before It Starts
One key to going paperless is limiting your overall reliance on paper. Assess your current work habits to see where paper could be removed from the workflow, especially ways that you can cut down on the amount of incoming paper. Stop the stream of paper now, and you’ll make it easier to stay on top of your post-paper life.
An easy way to start is to keep tabs on all the paperwork that enters your practice either in the mail or in person. Could that mail or those documents be delivered digitally instead? Could you send and receive your medical transcripts digitally? Are there bank statements, bills, or other materials that can be sent in a paperless format?
Be sure to apply these same practices to one-off items as well, like invoices, receipts, and lecture notes. While you’re at it, see if you can replace newsletters with electronic versions. You can stop the flow of junk mail too; here’s how in Canada and the United States. When you make an effort to stop incoming documents at their source, then your paper-free life will become much easier to manage.
2. Cloud Storage & Scanning Apps
Before we start talking about cloud storage, it is essential to think about security, as well as your legal and ethical responsibilities for data protection. We recently wrote about the risk factors of cloud-based storage; you can read it here.
There is a large selection of apps that can convert your paper documents into digital versions with just a snap of your phone’s camera. These applications also allow you to easily store your paperwork after digitizing it with cloud based solutions. Here are a couple of suggested apps:
- Google Drive: You can scan documents in Google Drive by photographing them with your device’s camera. Drive will automatically straighten the image, convert it into a PDF, and add it to your Google Drive cloud storage. The quality of the scan will depend on the quality of your phone’s camera. To make finding specific information within a document easy, Google Drive can scan the contents of your PDFs to make the text searchable.
- Scannable: The note-taking app Evernote has a scanning app called Scannable. It is perfect for receipts, business cards, or documents. The app can save scans as JPEGs or PDFs, but unlike Drive, it doesn’t offer automatic text scanning.
- CamScanner: It is one of the best cross-platform apps for the job, with both Android and iOS versions. It will automatically straighten your photo, and optimizes your documents to make the text legible and searchable. It also gives you the ability to annotate your documents, add watermarks and share them.
- Genius Scan: This app will straighten your wonky scans and improve legibility. It can link to storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox and allows you to stitch multiple documents together into a single file. Unlike CamScanner, it doesn’t include text scanning, so it won’t let you search your PDFs.
- Apple’s iOS 11: iOS 11 has added document scanning in the Notes app. It allows you to add annotations, export notes as PDFs, and send these files to any other app on your device.
3. Scanning Hardware
If you want to take the worry about angles, camera quality, and lighting out of scanning, then a dedicated scanner is for you. Make sure that you choose one with a document feeder for scanning multiple pages, as it allows you to handle stacks of paper all at once. You can program them to automatically send documents to your cloud storage. Make sure to also look for scanners that include software with features like PDF conversion and the option to stitch several pages into a single file.
Technology has made going paperless an easier proposition. Whether you’re digitizing a handful of documents or several boxes of files, there are options for you to choose from. It won’t be easy at first, but in the long run, you will likely save time, floor space and money. A good place to start is with your medical dictation service!
A final important note, remember to make more than one digital copy of each document before you shred the original. Backing up your documents in essential.
2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada. Our medical transcriptionists take pride in the quality of your transcribed documents. WEBscribe is our client interface portal for document management. 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers, and recently introduced AUTOfax. AUTOfax works within WEBscribe to automatically send faxes to referring physicians when a document is signed off by the healthcare professional. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.