Your paper documents are holding back your business. Find out more about data capture and how it can give you the advantage.

The current rate of data creation sees 2.5 quintillion bytes of information each day. Much of this information has been created in the last few years.
You might wonder where all this data is coming from in the first place. A fair amount of data is created through the process of data capture.
If you’re wondering how this process works or how it could benefit your business, this guide is for you. We’ll introduce the basics of data capture and why you should be using it in your business.

The Data Capture Process

You probably guessed that data isn’t created out of thin air. Most of the information exists beforehand, but not in a way you can use it. Data capture is the process that allows you to collect information.
The idea behind this process is simple. Take, for example, a patient filling in a questionnaire on their first visit.
This is the process that creates data. They’ll enter their name, their address, and other relevant information. Now you have the information, but how can you use it?
Digitizing this information makes it more useful. You can cross-reference it more easily. It also becomes more accessible.

How to Capture Data

You’ve been capturing at least some data for some time. You can capture data from paper documents, for example, by using forms designed to be read by machines.
Using paper documents could be holding you back though. It’s easier to use data if it’s in a digital format. Some data capture processes allow you to collect information from unstructured letters.
Automated capture processes can help you collect information from paper documents though. There are several methods to complete this task, depending on the type of documents.
To capture data, you’ll identify the document you want to capture the information from. You’ll then decide on an appropriate method.

Use Different Capture Methods for Different Types of Data

Not all information is created the same, so you may need to use a variety of data capture methods. For example, collecting data from an email is a different process than scanning in a paper form.
One method is manual keying. In this process, someone will type in the data by hand. As you might imagine, this isn’t the most efficient process.
It’s the process you’re most familiar with. There are other options, like OCR.

Data Capture Allows Machines to “Read”

OCR stands for optical character recognition. This technology allows machines to recognize certain typefaces on printed documents.
OCR is good for high volumes of documents with similar information. It may not be as helpful when you have documents where the information and structure changes. If you’re hoping to scan handwritten forms, you should consider ICR technology.

What is ICR? This acronym stands for intelligent character recognition.
This technology can recognize hand-printed characters. ICR technology can capture information from paper forms your customers fill out.
Barcode recognition is another way to capture data. Some types of barcodes contain high levels of metadata. They communicate information efficiently.
One example of a barcode type is the patient ID used in healthcare.
There are some other methods of data capture you can use, but these are the most common.

The Benefits of Data Capture for Businesses

Let’s look at the idea of the patient ID barcode in healthcare. All documents related to a patient include this barcode. It contains information about the patient, such as their name and medical history.
Scanning the barcode gives access to the information. The patient can be quickly identified. Test results will always be associated with the right patient profile.
What about ICR and OCR? Both are useful if you have paper documents you want to capture information from. ICR is very useful if you need people to fill in forms by hand.
Using data capture technology improves your business’s efficiency. You can process forms in less time, and information becomes accessible sooner. If you use a database, the information then becomes accessible from almost anywhere.
Better information capture can also help you provide better customer service. It’s easier to cross-reference information in the database. It also allows you to perform data analysis to discover patterns.

Increasing Security and Storage

It’s easy to damage paper documents. They’re also bulky, so storing them can become a problem for a business. People who aren’t authorized to see them may also be able to access them.
Data capture can help resolve these issues. You can control who sees what information. It also means you don’t need to store reams of paper in file folders.

Reducing Mistakes and Improving Accuracy

One of the issues with paper and manual keying is the high error rate. A customer may fill in a form incorrectly. The person keying the information in to the system later may make an error as they enter it.
Even if you use a human quality control process, you’ll still likely have a high error rate.
With an automated process, you can reduce the number of errors during the capture stage. It’s also easier to cross-reference data and validate it. Indexing information is easy as well.
This also helps you reduce costs and improve customer service. Delivering great service is easier when your information is accurate. Spending less time fixing errors in your data saves both time and money.
In short, there are many advantages to adopting data capture processes like ICR and intelligent OCR.

Leave Paper Behind

If you’re still using paper documents and manual keying, it’s time to make a change. There are so many better ways to capture the information you need for your business.
Data capture helps you collect information you might not be capturing right now. Lower error rates and faster processing times benefit your business and your clients.
If you still have questions, get in touch with us. We can help you decide what processes will work best for different areas of your business.