The challenges that businesses face don’t simply disappear when they cease to be industry buzzwords. For example, articles about the move toward a “paperless office” have, for the most part, been replaced by those covering topics such as AI, robotic process automation, or the use of data from drones, wearables, and the internet of things (IoT). This comes as no surprise. New technology warrants coverage and generates more clicks.
Yet the reality is that many businesses are very much still dealing with paper—desktops, drawers, and box upon boxes upon boxes of paper. Even with the switch from paper to electronic documents, organizations still face bottlenecks in processes related to the handling of critical risk, safety, claims, and policy-related files.
The move from a legacy system to a cloud-based RMIS can help alleviate the burden of managing these paper documents. And while there are many reasons for digitizing paper documents, the real benefits for an organization lie in the potential for breaking free from the constraints and limitations of processes created around paper.
Why digitize risk, safety, claims, and insurance documents?
Given its history as an industry built on paperwork, as well as one in which almost all processes and activities must be documented, an Insurance Business America article acknowledges that insurance organizations are likely to exceed the numbers cited in a BPI Network study, which “found that 91% of business professionals said the pace of document creation would either increase or stay the same within their organizations.”
A recent uptick in PDF innovation, writes the article’s author, makes the format “a surprising ally [of those in the insurance industry] in the complicated transition from paper to digital.” This is likely to provide only a degree of solace, given that the study “also found that 83% of respondents agreed that the accelerated pace and connectivity of business will require them to produce, share and manage more documents in the coming years.”
In other words, those who’ve yet to digitize documents related to risk, safety, claims, and insurance should begin the process sooner rather than later, before the quantity of paper makes the process overwhelming. For those that have digitized, the question becomes whether the organization is taking full advantage of digitization by transforming document-related tasks and workflows.
Document storage: the benefits of using a cloud-based RMIS
Regardless of the file format used, with digitized files stored on the cloud, organizations can eliminate the costs and headaches associated with the physical storage of paper files. The benefits of document digitization and cloud-based storage include the following:
- Security – Given heightened awareness of the vulnerability of PII, financial details, and other sensitive information, digitization and cloud-based storage is a vast improvement over a paper-based approach in which files are commonly misplaced or mishandled. In addition to encryption and options for restricting access to authorized users, digitized documents are stored in an environment that is audited and certified based on third-party standards.
- Access – Rather than waiting for transmission of a physical document, designated RMIS users can retrieve any file at any time. Using mobile apps, they can retrieve files from (or upload them to) the system from almost anywhere, which can be critical when work requires them to be away from their desk or office.
- Time savings – Rather than spending time searching through file cabinets, users can locate documents and their contents within seconds via built-in search options.
- Collaboration – In a cloud-based RMIS, multiple users can simultaneously view the same document at the same time, reducing the need for waiting until a paper file becomes available.
- Disaster preparedness and business continuity – Instead of rooms of shelving and boxes filled with paper files, electronic documents stored on the cloud are not susceptible to flooding, fire, or other hazards.
These and other benefits tied to a move from paper to digital document storage add to the list of solutions that may help those working to justify the expense of a new system. However, the potential for transforming paper-based processes can be even more consequential.
Document management: using a RMIS to transform paper-based workflows
Document management is about more than storage. While digitization and cloud-based storage is an improvement over storing and retrieving paper files, for day-in, day-out users of the system, real change comes with the transformation of workflows previously created around paper.
The post In a RMIS, the details matter makes that case that “the key to cutting down on repetitious administrative tasks lies in having the right technology in place.” This means a difference for users who might be struggling to do their jobs—not because of lack of experience or drive—but due to a glut of tasks that, although necessary, take up a disproportionate amount of time. The problem goes deeper than simple digitization, though. Even after organizations digitize the majority of their paper documents, some of the process inefficiencies originating from the constraints of paper still exist.
For example, the introduction of a cloud-based RMIS will allow users to more quickly access a police report, accident-site photograph, or dashboard camera video that is attached directly to a claim record in the system. However, downloading and attaching the file to an email, then forwarding that message to a group of individuals for review, can still result in confusion over who’s up next and the need for follow-up emails or calls to track progress. Essentially, this is the digital version of circulating a piece of paper via interoffice mail.
A recent Risk & Insurance article, Separating Substance From Hype, points out that resolving an issue such as this doesn’t necessarily require overly complicated solutions. “Even simpler technologies can make a big difference in helping carriers increase efficiency while cutting costs…These technologies aren’t necessarily flashy or disruptive. They simply take existing processes and give them a modern makeover.”
Continuing with the example above, an organization using a cloud-based RMIS platform such as Origami Risk might leverage the system’s integrated email functionality, the document management queue, and configurable business rules to take a smarter approach, automatically moving the file from one user to the next based on acknowledgment that their assignment–review, approval, or updating a specific field–is complete. Throughout the process, a dashboard widget can keep a manager and members of the group apprised of who is “up next” or which steps are overdue.
Since it’s likely that this process, along with many others like it, are repeated multiple times daily, if not weekly, rules can be defined once then reused over and over, with modifications made as needed. This improves the speed, consistency, and accuracy of processes and yields time back to users that would otherwise be spent sending emails and chasing files.
Putting an inefficient, error-prone, paper-based process to rest
At the most recent Origami Risk User Conference, one client presented examples of how they are successfully using the system’s document management technology to streamline a critical process in the organization’s self-insured claims program.
A business applications manager explained the challenges her team faced. Though bills could previously be attached to related claims, the fact that they existed in an image format made it necessary to manually match payments to the original bill. (A prime example of “faux digitization.”) The routing of documents to assigned users was also extremely time-consuming and open to potential error in the form of under- or over-payment. A task had to be manually created that ensured the assignee looked up the claim, found the relevant document, verified the amount was correct, and then made payment.
To make the process more efficient and less prone to errors, the organization put the following functionalities to use:
- Batch processes that automatically link and index bills and reports to claim payments.
- Custom fields that track when images are indexed, who performs that activity, and when an adjuster is designated for review. This provides oversight and ensures users are meeting defined metrics.
- Data entry events that trigger when checkboxes are checked, codes are updated, and activities are performed.
- Queues and status fields for routing documents to the correct user at the right time based on context.
- Report datasets that build automatic reports to show management, for example, reports on the bills that have been reviewed and those not completed for a certain number of days.
Today with these solutions implemented in Origami Risk, bills, explanation of reimbursement, and reports are linked automatically to claims, which means they are easily viewable when looking up payments. To streamline the entire process, business rules and data entry events automatically route documents to the appropriate users and assign follow-up tasks on bills and other documents. Dashboards and reports provide management with greater visibility into the efficiency of the handling of claims-related documents, allowing them to make adjustments where necessary.
Moving beyond paper and paper-based processes
If your organization has yet to digitize, switching from a legacy system to a cloud-based RMIS can help alleviate the burden of managing paper documents related to risk, safety, claims, and policy. Far more than just a matter of the digital storage of documents, a system like Origami Risk opens up the potential for breaking free from the constraints and limitations of paper-based processes, putting you on the path to becoming a digital business.
To learn more about document management functionalities in Origami Risk, or to begin a discussion about how Origami’s approach to implementation can help identify and improve inefficient, paper-based processes, contact us for a demo.