Although the medical school’s old system of managing records with paper spreadsheets and custom databases was working fine, keeping things current did depend on programmer availability, says Monica Baccardax, IT project manager for the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University Medical School, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. And even when all systems were “go,” staying on top of the paper flow was time-consuming.
Anyone with first-hand knowledge of records management can readily sympathize. Colleges and universities are being inundated like never before with countless documents that records managers must organize and track. At the same time, administrators are calling on all areas of their institutions to speed up processes, gain efficiencies and implement best practices—all of which are nearly impossible for records managers to do without the proper tools.
Since implementing Laserfiche’s enterprise content management (ECM) solution, Dalhousie’s medical school has all the records management tools it needs. Now, staff can rapidly access information, which is especially useful when it comes to verifying records.
“Before we used Laserfiche, it could take a lot of time to fill verification requests,” Baccardax recalls. “We’d have to find the material in the file folder or retrieve it from off-site storage. With Laserfiche, the employee can quickly find the student or resident records. We scan the verification information so it can be used again for future requests.”
Laserfiche helped the school determine what information is essential and who was responsible for it, enabling staff to clear out a myriad of paper documents, freeing up storage space and making filing far more manageable.
The system also defined the information-gathering roles for new employees; identified what departments are responsible for what shared information; and clarified the boundaries of where the information stops and starts between departments, Baccardax says.
The technology has proven especially handy when it comes to meeting the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP), which has been extended to universities in Nova Scotia, says Baccardax.
“Certain types of information couldn’t be shared unless approved by an authorized person,” Baccardax explains. “Laserfiche enables you to set the access rights to that information so that it’s available only to authorized staff. In addition, the Laserfiche redaction option serves as a useful tool to black out any information that cannot be shared with unauthorized personnel.”
For departments eager to improve their records management processes, Baccardax advises they first obtain higher-level approval and commitment. And then?
“Create a Records Management Committee to include one person from each of the appointed departments, and an archivist and a lawyer,” she says. “Each will offer insights that will enhance the Laserfiche system.”