Frequently Asked Questions
questions regarding document scanning and electronic documents
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an electronic document or electronic document image? Is this EMR?
Although there are guidelines there are no widely accepted standard within the EMR/EHR industry at this time. An electronic document or image might be contained within an EMR system and could technically be called an EMR but it would normally not be classified as EMR per se. EMR information storage ranges from images from very detailed to image with indexing levels.
A document Imaging is essentially a picture of the paper document potentially with an index of keywords and meaningful file names. The indexing and naming enable retrieval, viewing, printing or transmitting via electronic means. Indexing is the capture of key information which is attached to the image and is subsequently used to pinpoint which electronic image you wish to retrieve and manipulate.
I don’t want my documents to leave my site can you scan at my site?
We can certainly scan at your site! We just need some space and adequate power for equipment. Depending upon volume and project time frames space requirements begin at a normal conference room or office. Typically the biggest space requirement is if files need to be broken down and reassembled. Scanning Equipment and Scanning Stations require little space.
I have lots of different documents and forms in many different sizes, some are crinkled or torn. Can they still be scanned?
While our scanners are very capable of automatically recognizing different sizes and shapes of paper, they are most efficient when paper is consistently sized. Different form types are not an issue during the scanning phase but require additional processing power if recognition is to be performed. Crinkled, torn, or otherwise damaged documents are handled on a case by case basis. In the worst cases we may take the paper and enclose it in a clear plastic sheath or even individually scan on a flatbed scanner. We have run into everything from paper that looked like it might once have been crumpled up and thrown into a trash can to old carbon copy tissue paper.
What if my original is damaged or bound?
Crinkled, torn, or otherwise damaged documents are handled on a case by case basis. In the worst cases we may take the paper and enclose it in a clear plastic sheath or even individually scan on a flatbed scanner. We have run into everything from paper that looked like it might once have been crumpled up and thrown into a trash can to old carbon copy tissue paper.
What training will my staff need to use electronic documents? Is it included in your service?
This is highly dependent upon the level of service you need. For basic electronic archiving service little if any training is required. For information processing or document management some training may be required. We will work with you to ensure that the adequate level of training is made available to your staff. We will provide documentation and training either directly or through a training specialist as required.
I have a regular flow of paper which needs processing quickly to free space in my office can you help?
Our “On Demand Scanning Service” addresses your requirements. Please click on “Services” in the menu.
I only have a few file cabinets what can you do for me and is it cost effective?
Yes we can help. Is it cost effective, maybe – we need more information. There is definitely an economy of scale in the process but depending upon your particular needs and the documents, and your location it might still make sense. A quick conversation can usually determine if your situation is cost effective. There is no cost and at worst we can suggest alternative approaches to your situation.
I haven’t yet selected or don’t intend to acquire an Electronic Records Management system what benefit is your service to me?
If you don’t intend to acquire an EMR system we certainly have solutions for you. The ideal solution is dependent upon whether you want basic archiving or full blown document management. The solution range is from using your own existing file systems and/or database software to ImageWorld providing software that meets your needs.
If you do intend to acquire an EMR system you need to be more cautious. ImageWorld is not affiliated with a particular vendor but we have experience with many. It is our experience that some EMR system vendors easily integrate existing electronic images or documents others require that all input be through their equipment and processes (often they will have customer input options but at fairly hefty prices. Please call or send an email and we would be happy to provide further information.
I know I want my documents in electronic format, but I’m not sure what format?
Without more information we’re not sure which format is appropriate either. A preliminary discussion about your business processes, information requirements and desires is required prior to a definitive answer. As a guide the primary options are listed below. For more detailed information please click on “Services”.
The most common standard formats for imaging and indexing are TIFF or PDF. A TIFF file is essentially a photograph with the ability to contain keyword indexes. A PDF is Adobe Corporations Portable Document Format which can be full text or an image within the PDF also containing keyword indexes.
An alternative could be database software where indexes are pointers to the images contained within the database. The ultimate is substantial OCR to turn the paper document into an editable electronic document. This could be a PDF or a Word Processing document or a structure for inclusion into an existing system.
What storage/media options do I have?
The most common options are removable media (DVD, CD), or hard drive with removable media backup. Given the almost 600% greater storage capacity at a negligible price difference DVD is much more common than CD these days. A factor might be the age of your PC equipment, although most desktop and laptop PCs sold within the last 4 years are capable of reading DVDs.
Hard drive storage is very inexpensive today and the access times are much faster than removable media. Also, all of your documents can be put in one place so there is no searching for the right DVD or CD. Hard drive storage of your electronic documents also ensures that the data is backed up using your normal system backup processes. ImageWorld always recommends keeping a backup on removable media that is stored away from your primary business site.
Network or server based storage may also serve your needs particularly if multiple people need access to the information. In either case local hard drive or network based storage access to the information is controlled in the same manner as other sensitive information.
ImageWorld’s services can include putting the electronic documents on you equipment or providing equipment to be integrated into your systems.
How do I know what files are on a DVD or CD?
Labeling of the media will be agreed upon during the first phase of the five step process phase “defining requirements and parameters. The most common approaches are; if practical the DVD or CD will be labeled with the file names contained on it, if there are too many files to legibly label the media then it will be labeled with the major topic of the contents. Another option might be to build a cross reference table. Your content and retrieval needs will dictate the best approach.
Will I have to buy special software or hardware?
No special software or hardware is required! Even if your project encompasses text search capability you can use tools such as Windows Explorer or the free Google Desktop Search to search for files by name or content. You may want to purchase other available software for greater functionality or ease of use. Indexing software such as X1 permits search and previewing files but this is a choice not a requirement.
Of course if your project requires a database system, for example images and indexes are contained within a database then you will need to own a copy of the database. These decisions and requirements will be defined in the first phase of the five step process, “defining requirements and parameters” so there will not be any surprises.
Note: ImageWorld does not endorse any particular software including those mentioned above. We will, at your request, make recommendations and possibly demonstrate software with which we directly or through other customers are experienced.
Will I be able to use my electronic document with my other systems and new technology as I acquire it?
The answer to this question depends on the format you select and, of course, the technology you are acquiring. Generally, the answer is yes you will be able to use the electronic document with new technology either hardware or software with some caveats.
Digital Images – If you have elected to store your documents as images the ability to retrieve and view images will remain for the foreseeable future, in fact, with the expanded use of digital cameras this capability will only increase.
PDF Files – As with native digital image formats use of PDF files is increasing. Creation, manipulation, and optional features of PDF files is also increasing through new Adobe Acrobat release and products from other vendors.
Other Formats – Whether database or word documents or spreadsheets, these formats will be around for the foreseeable future.
Caveats – Should you decide to change the format of your electronic documents, for example, from native digital images to PDF files or PDF to database, PDF image files to text searchable PDF you will have to perform or have the conversions performed. The good news is that no matter what your format it can be converted to virtually any other format. You can perform the conversion in house with the proper tools and time or out source the conversion to ImageWorld.
What if we lose the document images?
One of the reasons we provide a backup copy of the images is to guard against potential loss. It is recommended that you store the backup at an offsite location. Another issue besides loss is mistreatment. Although DVDs and CDs are pretty hardy people often mistreat them and over time they may become scratched. The solution is simple take your backup copy and make another copy then return the backup to its offsite location. Since the media is digital this process can be repeated as often as necessary without any loss of quality.
If you are able to copy the digital images to a PC or better yet a network asset then they become part of whatever backup procedures your organization has in place.
ImageWorld also offers an optional service of maintaining a copy of your electronic documents at our facility.
How long does a DVD or CD maintain data?
The industry accepted shelf life for a CD is 100 years. DVDs are currently slightly less. Do remember that anytime prior to the expiration of the shelf life a new copy can be created and the shelf life clock begins anew.
Will you provide printed labels for my DVD/CD’s?
Printed or direct scribing of CD/DVD labels is available. Printed labels may last longer, direct scribing seems to fade after a number of years (5 to 7) but printed labels can unbalance media if mistreated.
Can I upload the image files to a server ? Is this part of your service?
Uploading electronic files regardless of format is recommended. Once electronic files are uploaded to a server they are subject to the same organizational processes as other organizational data included secured access and backup procedures.
ImageWorld can certainly perform this function although most IT organizations prefer to do this task.
Do you offer a searchable database of my documents?
A searchable database containing both the electronic documents and index fields is an option. This option is typically the mid-ground between images and full OCR. Meaning a large number of index fields but less than full text retrieval. Additionally, this option is usually only used where a limited number of users require access to the electronic files. Reason being the training required for users to use a database and associated query languages.
ImageWorld can accommodate most database solutions. Selection of a database system is normally dependent upon whether you currently own database software, the number of concurrent user accesses required, the size and number of electronic files, and the complexity of potential index searches.
Can you OCR my documents? What formats are available?
ImageWorld offers state of the art OCR with support for multiple languages, document types and sizes. Accuracy ranges from uncorrected OCR (97-98% accuracy) corrected OCR (100% – human interface to correct errors), Note: uncorrected accuracy rate is dependent upon the quality of original documents. Note: Human interface to correct OCR errors can very time consuming and therefore add considerable expense to the project.
Combinations of readable text and images are also available for PDF files. This option is mostly used in situations with uncorrected OCR and extremely complex or poor quality originals and it is important to maintain as good a printable copy of the original image as possible.
Will my files be editable?
The short answer is yes if the electronic files have undergone an OCR process. Technically image files are editable but that is not usually what this question addresses. If the electronic file is converted to a standard format i.e.,word processing then the file is fully editable. If you have elected PDF text files then you must own a PDF editing program. It may also be possible to export a PDF file to an intermediate file format such as rich text format then importing into a word processing application.
Can I make changes or add notes to the scanned documents?
Yes, probably, depends on your file format and software. Word processing files, yes no problem. PDF files yes, more limited unless you have a PDF editor. Image files really depends on the software available.
How can I be sure my documents will be secure in your custody?
ImageWorld’s process includes a chain of custody. It starts by you knowing who to expect to pick-up your files. Signed forms for the files picked up. From that point your files are never out of custody expect when the operations center is closed, then the files are under lock and key. Electronic files are not exposed to the Internet. Once you have and have approved the delivered electronic files all copies are deleted using deletion techniques approved for classified material by the Department of Defense. If you request we keep a copy of your files as back-up the files are stored on media that is isolated from the Internet and locally password protected. The files can be stored in encrypted format if industry regulations or your preferences require it.
How can I be sure the information in the documents will remain private?
An integral part of our business is information protection. We have handled sensitive information for a number of clients without incident. Our procedures include limiting access to only those personnel required, supervision of personnel handling information, background checks for personnel, keeping files under lock and key. These procedures cover both the hard-copy files and electronic files.
Will you return or destroy my documents after scanning them?
That is up to you. If you wish the files returned we will return the files in the same condition as when we took custody. If you don’t want the files back we will dispose of them, in the case of sensitive information documents are securely shredded then recycled. If the information is not sensitive the documents are recycled.
How much do your services cost?
While it may seem obvious – pricing depends on our costs! Generally, the more human intervention required the higher the price. The more we can automate tasks via software or hardware or in a single process lowers the price. Some of the factors include:
Scanning at your site or our operations center, its less expensive at our center,
Travel distance to your site and number of trips required,
Volume of documents – higher volume tends to be less expensive,
Type of documents – standard letter or legal size documents cost less than oversize drawings, i.e., blueprints,
Quality of documents – “Don’t bend, spindle, or mutilate”,
Number of fasteners – staples, paperclips, binder clips, spiral bound or book type backbones
ndexes fields required,
Output format – image files, PDF files, word processing files, database,
OCR requirements – while largely an automated process it requires resources and time,
Call or email us for a quote.
How can I determine whether to buy my own scanner or pay for the service?
Why outsource anything? Usually to save money, cost of equipment, software, employee time, training, expertise. The two elements most often underestimated are the amount of time and the quality of the end product. The questions to be answered are;
How many pages per day/week/month do you need to scan?
What retrieval requirements do you have for the resultant electronic documents?
Do you need to index the documents?
Do you have an employee with free time to perform the tasks? How much are you paying them?
Do you have the software to scan, deskew, despeckle, and otherwise improve image while scanning?
Do you have the software or people time to index the electronic documents?
Does your employee understand PDF files and how to index them?
How fast is your scanner?
The list goes on…….
Call us for an evaluation. With some of our clients we have started the process for them by scanning the backlog then showing them how to continue the process with their own resources. Others have chosen to lease a scanner and/or have us provide the manpower on a weekly or monthly basis. A few hours per month often meets all their requirements.
Why would I outsource PDF conversions?
See the answer to general outsourcing above, its about time and expertise. Does it make sense for your situation don’t know until we know more about your situation.
What PDF format should I use?
What there is more than one PDF format? Maybe not format but differences in content storage. A PDF file can contain only images, only text, combined images and text, and images over or under text. The first three are fairly easy to understand but what about the over and under to what purpose? The later two effectively contain two copies of the original document one in pure image form the other is readable/searchable text. An example would be when an original document is very complex or of poor quality and you need the ability to reproduce the document and yet you need to be able to search for words or phrases anywhere in the document you might use a text under image content structure. This permits the best quality for reproduction while providing the ability to search the entire document.