One of the keys to a successful document management system is the ability to find and retrieve the documents you are looking for quickly. The Metridoc Document Store implements several methods to catalog and index your documents such as:
- Document Groups
- Document Types
- Document Properties
- Meaningful Full-Text Indexing
Document groups are the top level of cataloging in the Metridoc Document Store and acts a partition between different divisions, departments, lines of business, or workgroups in a company. Only members of the group can access the documents in the group and in order to provide extreme privacy only members of a group know that the group exists because it is never displayed as an option for non-group members. Metridoc users may belong to multiple document groups and can change document groups for each search if they choose. You can create an unlimited number of document groups and you are required to create at least one.
Some examples of how to use document groups follows:
- Your company is a home medical equipment (HME) provider and your business office wants to add your patient billing records to Metridoc so you create a “Business Office” document group and add the members of the business office to that group. Now only the business office members can search and retrieve documents in that group. Only the billing office knows that the “Business Office” document group exists. You also have a respiratory department that keeps their own clinical patient documents that they want to add to Metridoc so you create a “Respiratory” document group that only the respiratory department can access.
- Your human resource department wants to add their private and sensitive documents to Metridoc so you create a “Human Resource” document group and add the members of the human resource department to that group. Now only the human resource department members can search and retrieve documents in that group. Again, only the human resource department knows that the “Human Resource” document group exists.
- Your purchasing and accounts payable departments want to add their paperwork such as purchase orders, packing slips, and vendor invoices to Metridoc so you create a “Purchasing/Accounts Payable” document group that only they can access.
- Your company decides that they want a simple document catalog so you create a “Documents” document group and add each Metridoc users as a member of that group.
Each document that is added to the Metridoc Document Store is identified with a document group and a document type. The document type classifies each document as to their nature. Metridoc searches can be performed for a single document type or can be performed across all document types. Searching for a single document type saves time by limiting search results to review when employees know the exact document type they need. You can create an unlimited number of document types and you are required to create at least one.
For example, using the purchasing and accounts payable example above you would create three document types: “Purchase Order”, “Packing Slip”, and “Vendor Invoice”.
Using the human resource example you might create “Employee Application”, “Employee Review”, “Injury Report”, or “Written Warning” document types.
The HME business office example might create “Customer Order”, “DMERC”, “CMN”, “Medicare Voucher”, or “BC/BS Voucher” document types.
Meaningful Full-Text Indexing
Each document that is added to the Document Store by way of a Metridoc Document Processing workstation using the Metridoc ABBYY® processing plug-in goes through an optical character recognition (OCR) process where the Metridoc analyzes the type written characters on a document image and converts them to text data.
The text data is part of each document and is available in later stages of the processing for document identification and document property mapping (see Document Properties) using text patterns.
Each document’s text data is also indexed with the full-text indexing components in Metridoc’s back end database. This index is used during searches to retrieve documents.
A basic text search will return results that match a certain character, word (a string of characters), or multiple words regardless of the context of the words on a document which is an issue because this increases the search results with documents that employees aren’t looking for.
For example, when large health care providers receive payment from insurance companies they often receive hundred page documents listing patients and the claims that that the insurance company is paying. Performing a basic text search on a document of this kind will match almost any combination of name. For instance in a search for John Smith the word “John” may be found on page 5 and the word “Smith” maybe found on page 99 and that match would be totally out of context and it would be a waste of time for an employee to review this document result.
A meaningful full-text search, as is used in Metridoc, takes into consideration the context of the criteria specified so if the two words John and Smith were not in the same vicinity, say within a few lines of text from one another, the document described above wouldn’t be returned as a result and your employee wouldn’t waste their time reviewing it when it isn’t what they need.
Metridoc’s full-text searching defaults to a meaningful full-text search but the user can also perform a basic text search if needed.
Meaningful full-text indexing is a valuable feature for a document management solution because there is significant time savings in finding your documents quickly. You don’t want employees wasting their time “browsing” through electronic folders, or reviewing documents that match their criteria but are out of context. One of Metridoc’s primary design goals was to maximize the automation of document management and meaningful full-text indexing delivers.
Imagine having a person in your company who has stored every word on every page of every document in your business as well as where to locate that page, and anytime you needed a document you would tell that person what you where looking for, they would run down to the file room and pull the meaningful matches, and bring them back to your for review. Well that person is Metridoc.
Each document type can have an unlimited number of properties, or fields, and each property is defined with a specific data type of date/time, integer, text, logical or decimal. Document property values can be modified by designated users after a document has been added to the Metridoc Document Store.
A document property can be associated with more than one document type and can be used as an additional index for searching, to reference a specific attribute of the document, to relate various document types to create virtual folders, or to assist with document workflow. Examples of each document property use follows:
Index for Searching
The OCR only recognizes type written characters so Metridoc is unable to provide search capabilities on the parts of documents that are handwritten. An optional intelligent character recognition (ICR) feature is available that recognizes hand print (see image below) but it doesn’t recognize cursive writing.
When working with documents of this nature a document property can be created to capture the key pieces of data that you would use to retrieve the document. Maybe it’s a customer number, order number, invoice number, a significant date, etc.
There are several ways of automating the population of a document property when it is being added to the Metridoc Document Store such as a default value, text processing and mapping with regular expressions, custom Metridoc plug-in, bar codes, etc. Each document property is defined as either being required or optional. All document property data is validated by data type before a document is accepted into the Metridoc Document Store and if a value is invalid for the data type the document is pended so it can be reviewed. If a document property is required for a certain document type then null data values are not accepted and will result in the document being pended for review.
Reference a Specific Attribute
A previous example in the article discussed a large health care provider that may receive payment vouchers from insurance companies are hundreds of pages. Extending that example let’s say that the business office manager wanted to be able to perform a document search for all payment vouchers received on a certain day in order to audit daily cash receipts.
None of the insurance payment vouchers would have on them the date the company deposited the payments in their bank so the manager could create document property named “Deposit Date” and define it as a required Date/Time data type. Now the manager would be able perform a search on a specific Deposit Date or a range of Deposit Dates.
Relate Various Document Types
Old habits are hard to break and when using Metridoc employees still want to be able view the digital equivalent of a manual filing folders such as an employee file, customer file, vendor file, patient file, etc.
Metridoc enables you to create that virtual file folder using a common document property across multiple related document types. For example, let’s say you wanted to have virtual employee file in your human resources department. When you define the document types that will be used in your employee file also define a common document property on each document type such as “Employee Number” or “Employee Name” or both. Make those document properties required and configure how you would like to automatically populate those properties.
When the human resource personnel want to retrieve the virtual employee file the can perform a search across all document types for a specific employee. Metridoc will return all of the documents that match the specified employee and group them by document type for easy browsing of the virtual employee file.
This same technique can be used with customer files, vendor files, patient files, etc.
Assist with Document Workflow
Generally, employees use the documents in your business for some type of process such as customer service, billing, receivables, payable, payroll, inventory, etc. Your business processes are made up of a number of steps for a particular process and you can define document properties such as “Workflow Status” and “Workflow Status Date” to record the current state of the process that is centered on a specific document.
For example, you could add all of your vendor invoices received in the mail today and add them to Metridoc with a default Workflow Status of “New”. Your accounts payable clerk could then perform a search for all vendor invoices with the Workflow Status of “New” and the result would be all of the invoices that need to be processed in your accounts payable system. As each invoice is processed the user could modify the “Workflow Status” fields and update them back to the Metridoc Data Store to reflect that the workflow task has been completed. This same method can be automated to work with your existing software applications and remove the human element from certain tasks such as keying an accounts payable invoice.
Using the health care provider scenario the same method could be applied to billing if the provider adds all of their completed orders to Metridoc. Metridoc Customers have used an integer Workflow Status property in this case where 0 means new, 1 means the billing office has verified the customer account or created a new account, 2 means a bill has been prepared, etc. Business office personnel effective use Metridoc as a work queue and the Workflow Status property defines their work center.
As you can see Metridoc offers many flexible ways of cataloging and indexing your business documents, whether they are typed characters or hand print, from using automatic full-text indexing to simple yet sophisticated document properties that can be used to enhance document searching and automate basic document workflow.