Becoming a doctor…it’s a dream of tens of thousands of young men and women across the nation. The dream of one organization was to expedite the application process for the vast amount of doctor hopefuls and streamline the acceptance process for medical schools across the United States and Canada. With thousands of would-be medical students seeking acceptance to over 125 accredited U.S. medical schools, 16 accredited Canadian medical schools, 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, and 90 academic/professional societies, applying on an institution-by-institution basis was time consuming and inefficient for students and schools alike.
With the vast amount of students applying to all of the medical schools, teaching hospitals, health systems, and academic/professional societies, an impressive amount of documents and important information arrive at this organization’s door every day.
The organization processes information for almost 37,143 medical school applicants. This information includes applications, graduate and undergraduate transcripts, essays, and paper correspondence. They process an astonishing 615,584 pages per year.
Once all of the applications arrive, they must be flowed through a rather involving process. Employees managed all of the paperwork manually. Things ran smoothly most of the time and the process was good for a manual system, but electronic document/content management promised time, cost, and also space saving solutions.
They needed an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) that encompasses imaging, indexing, automatic archiving, and workflow. Optical Image Technology, Inc. (OIT) offered software modules that suited each facet of the proposed system.
“Our software was a perfect fit for this organization,” explains OIT President, Scott Buchart. “They needed a system that offered flexibility and security, and that is exactly what OIT’s DocFinity solutions provided.”
After careful consideration, several modules were selected from OIT’s DocFinity Suite of Document Management Software. OIT products licensed include DocFinity Imaging, DocFinity Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM), DocFinity WorkFlow, and DocFinity IntraVIEWER® (Browser Access).
DocFinity Imaging allows users to quickly locate and view the information they require. They are able to query on a particular applicant. Then the users can bring up all supporting documents related to that applicant, including student transcripts, letters, emails, and other important information. Once accessed, they can fax, print and add annotations to the files. Users can share information simultaneously and even use E-mail to attach and send a document directly from the DocFinity Imaging program.
Workers use OIT’s software to add virtually any computer-generated file to the index structure used to store scanned pages and reports. The file is stored in its original format, using the indexing levels they have assigned. DocFinity Imaging turns the process of document archival and retrieval from a consumer of time and money to a valuable source of efficiency, improved customer satisfaction and method of cost savings for everyone involved in the application process.
New documents as well as historical documents, dating back to 1977, are being entered into the system by scanning them into batches. Batches are similar to stacks of paper that the employees would usually hand file. The employees then put these documents into a cascade structure index.
With OIT’s DocFinity IntraVIEWER product, this organization has found a low cost, efficient way of accessing and workflowing current and historical information from locations around the globe via a web browser. Users can retrieve and workflow any object that is stored within OIT’s DocFinity repository. DocFinity IntraVIEWER offers users global access and distribution of information. The user simply issues a request via DocFinity IntraVIEWER to the SQL database. When the security is approved, the data is retrieved from the storage device and transmitted over the web to the user’s screen.
Also licensed was OIT’s DocFinity WorkFlow, which is an electronic document routing system that increases productivity, accuracy and efficiency over traditional paper processing. DocFinity WorkFlow electronically simulates the way the organization currently process applications and supporting documents by making it possible for users to automatically route scanned documents and PC files. Working together with their current process, DocFinity WorkFlow has streamlined collaboration and accelerated the completion of the critical task of Approval/Denial of Assistance Documents. The administrators have been able to plan exactly how they want to process the workflows. They have customized the flows to suit their particular needs step by step, taking into consideration the special characteristics of the organization.
Each type of Document, an application for example, is assigned one or more ‘rules’ which consist of what action must take place, in what order, and which user or group of users is responsible for performing that action. When a document enters the system and is identified as a workflow document, it automatically appears in the work list of the user or group of users assigned to the first action. When the action is marked as completed, the document is automatically routed to the next user or group of users for processing and so on, until all actions are complete and the Assistance Document is either approved or denied.
The organization has also chosen OIT’s DocFinity Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) program, which intelligently processes requests to retrieve, store and/or move information from multiple storage devices. Because DocFinity (HSM) processes all requests in a logical order, the mounting of platters is reduced and efficiency is greatly enhanced.
Keeping the Information Secure
The information that flows through the organization, especially school transcripts and personal data, is obviously sensitive. The documents and information need to be protected as much as possible. To aid in this protection, OIT’s DocFinity Solution features extensive table-based security options. Not only can the administrators assign or limit data access rights to any index level including the page level, but they can also assign or limit authorization to system functions such as storing or accessing documents, rerouting or canceling of workflow jobs, and tracking of attendance. Administrators can also assign security on a user-by-user basis or on a group basis.
They are currently limiting users’ access to information based on the users’ job functions, which include Production, who verify applications, and Management, who handle Customer Support.
Fitting the Pieces Together
In order to complete the complex daily business tasks, the organization needed to continue using other software in addition to OIT’s DocFinity modules. Integration with the OIT software and other products was a high priority. Without a completely smooth integration, the final process would fall short of their expectations.
They soon found that OIT exceeded their expectations. It was a simple task to integrate OIT’s DocFinity products with other third party software. As a matter of fact, they are using their own Visual Basic product along with OIT to make the two systems work together.
Applicants are able to submit their applications via the web. This information goes into an Oracle Database and into their system. This starts an autoflow, which goes to the Approval Department. OIT’s DocFinity WorkFlow automatically starts other executables and calls other programs. This tremendous level of integration is what makes the process work so effectively.
In addition, the organization is also using Crystal Reports behind the scenes to develop reports on OIT and their own software. This allows the administrators to evaluate, and thus, improve the process.
“The integration of third party software with OIT’s products proves that the possibilities are completely endless,” states Buchart. “This organization is integrating the software in remarkable ways, allowing them to efficiently complete their everyday business tasks.”
Besides simply reducing costs and storage problems, many benefits other have been experienced since implementing OIT’s software. One benefit that company officials have noted is knowing exactly where documents are located. At the touch of a button any document pertaining to a particular applicant appears on a user’s screen, allowing the user to view, make notes, or forward the document to someone else. Related to this fact, and probably most importantly, is that documents are no longer misplaced.
Another benefit is that the administrators can look to see how long a workflow takes and who is taking the longest. This helps to increase efficiency and work ethic among the employees, leading to organization wide improvements.
And this is just the beginning. Ultimately, OIT’s DocFinity Suite of Document Management Solutions will offer improvements in ways they never thought possible.