The world of record keeping and document creation is a changing—and for the better. So long frustration when looking for a document and not finding it. Goodbye needing a health document and not being able to get it quickly. Hello swift and accurately created health documents. Hello always having access to the veterinary documents you need.
What’s the impetus behind this change? Digital solutions.
Dr. Robert Magnus, DVM, founder and president of Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wis., is among the veterinarians relying on this latest technology to improve operational efficiency.
“We needed to find a way to keep our costs down, improve our service to our clients and meet their expectations," Magnus states. “Implementing technological solutions allows us to focus first on the best interests of our clinic's equine patients while giving fast, accurate treatment of the animals.”
With 12 full-time veterinarians and 20 support staff members, he says any efficiencies realized in terms of labor hours can result in significant cost savings for his business.
Before you head to the Internet to research “digital documents,” you should know that most websites tend to use the term “digital” documents interchangeably with “electronic” documents. For clarification, all digital documents are electronic documents, but not all electronic documents are digital documents.
A digital document is the next-generation electronic document. The information that creates digital documents is held in a highly secure central repository, giving users instant access.
Digital Solutions and Animal Health Industry
The Indiana State Board of Animal Health has been digital since 2010.
“The ability to file certificates of veterinary inspection electronically into a database assures accurate information is being passed on to the state-of-destination,” states Bret Marsh, DVM, Indiana State Veterinarian. “Errors are limited because the system will not accept certificates unless all fields are properly completed.
“Another great advantage is its timeliness. Instead of waiting for CVIs to be mailed to the state of destination, eCVIs arrive at the state office shortly after being completed. If a disease outbreak should occur, response would be much faster because the information provided to BOAH would be real-time.”
Digital solutions’ real-time connectivity streamlines business, including Animal Disease Traceability (ADT):
• Documents subject to regulatory compliance and audit trails are easy to manage.
• Instantaneous sharing of documents with colleagues, even those in geographically dispersed locations—Enhancing animal traceability and regulatory compliance.
• Cost savings—Eliminating significant time spent looking in too many places to find a particular file.
• Improves accuracy and legibility.
The instantaneous sharing of digital documents keeps parties in compliance with the government’s mandated ADT rule. The rule’s requirement that a document must go to the state of origin within seven days is not only met but is hassle-free since each ICVI that is signed off is immediately distributed to the designated state of origin.
Searchable vs. Non-searchable Documents
In today’s computer- and Internet-driven, knowledge-based business world, quick access to important information is critical to day-to-day business functions. Research shows that companies spend $120 in labor to find a misfiled document and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document. It is estimated that 7.5 percent of all documents get lost and 3 percent of the remainder get misfiled. In addition, while professionals spend 5 percent to 15 percent of their time reading information, they spend up to 50 percent of their time looking for the information.
These costs to commerce are impacted that the fact that not all documents stored electronically are searchable.
Scanned copies and PDFs are non-digital, non-searchable documents. Scanned copies and PDFs cannot be searched for a key word or phrase for two fundamental reasons:
1. The many various versions and combinations of browsers (Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10, Safari, Mozilla Firefox 3, 4, and Google Chrome), computer operating systems/architectures (Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, 32bit, 64bit) and Adobe products (Adobe Reader/Adobe Full versions 5 through 10) make it impossible to conduct successful word searches.
2. Scanned copies and PDFs are similar to photos or carbon copy images of documents.
The innovation of digital databases has resulted in intuitive, searchable data. Individuals have instant availability to detailed, real-time information. Researching for a particular document or one piece of information can be reduced from a major project to a 10-second search.
Benefits of digital documents include:
• Easy, dynamic access to documents year after year.
• Searchable text.
• Improved office performance/daily efficiency, leading to cost savings.
Magnus predicts that the use of paper in the animal health industry will be minimized if not eliminated altogether. He says the focus will be on solutions that connect veterinarians, animal owners, diagnostic labs, industry partners and government officials and improve overall animal wellness in the most accurate, effective and efficient ways possible.
“I’m just glad we incorporated the latest technology, as our clinic is reaping the benefits in many ways,” Magnus states.
Electronic Signature vs. Digital Signature
Like digital vs. electronic documents, electronic, digitized and digital signatures are often confused with each other. They are not the same.
An electronic signature is a generic, technology-neutral term for the various ways an electronic record can be signed. An electronic signature can be as elementary as a typed name or a digitized image of a handwritten signature—such as handwriting capture—or as high-tech as a digital signature.
While all digital signatures fall under the umbrella of electronic signatures, not all electronic signatures are digital signatures. A digital signature is a sub-group of electronic signatures that is considered the strongest signature and provides the highest level of security and universal acceptance. Digital signatures are a highly secure electronic “fingerprint” or coded message unique to both the document and the signer.
Electronic signatures that are a digitized image of a handwritten signature can be extremely problematic in regards to maintaining integrity and security. While commonly used on documents, a digitized image of a handwritten signature does not incorporate additional measures of security and is considered an insecure way of signing documentation. Digitized signatures are also vulnerable to copying and tampering.
A digital signature, on the other hand, encrypts data, identifies who did the encryption and validates and detects whether changes have been made. A digital signature ensures the authenticity of the signer, binds the document and signer together and cannot be copied, tampered with or altered.
In addition to eliminating the need to reintroduce paper into the workflow for signature approvals, digital signatures:
• Reduce costs.
• Improve efficiency.
• Enhance collaboration.
Digital signatures are used by businesses around the globe and across industries as a means to securely and compliantly expedite approval processes.