Case study

The benefits of going paperless

January 13, 2020


Raleigh General Hospital is a community-based hospital in Beckley, W.V. As a part of LifePoint Health, they boast a level III Trauma Center and Interventional Cardiology. The acute care hospital is licensed for 300 beds and is the largest provider of services in southern West Virginia. With approximately 1,100 employees, the Raleigh General Hospital Human Resources Department has plenty to do.

Chris Beebe is the Director of Human Resources and Education at Raleigh General. When he came on board almost two years ago, he realized there was some room for improvement when it came to documentation. As part of accreditation, all staff competencies have to be tracked and housed by HR, ready at any time for audits and inspections.

At the time, competencies were kept at the departmental level, and there was no consistency between departments. In order to track and monitor at a global level and bring all documentation into HR the hospital would have to not only buy filing cabinets and supplies, they would have to actually build additional walls and create a locked, secure storage room.

Why spend all that money to continue using a system that wasn’t really working well in the first place?

Shortly after he was hired, Beebe started thinking about going paperless. In addition to a long list of benefits, space would no longer be an issue. Since they would have to spend some money either way, Beebe got the green light to look into it.

He received a referral from another LifePoint Health facility that was using eFileCabinet, and when he realized the filing cabinets alone were at least half the cost of the software, it wasn’t a hard sell. The HR team decided they didn’t want to simply copy their current paper format. Rather, they decided to redesign how the files should be organized, not simply importing files as they were.

Beebe brought in the whole team, and the file redesign, template creation and file naming specifications became a successful group collaboration.

“I’m a firm believer that if you do the work on the front end, it makes it much easier on the back end, and believe me, in this case it’s been worth its weight in gold,” said Beebe.

They hired a group of temporary employees to scan files, all day, every day, for about four months. Once they got the hang of it, they were averaging a drawer and a half per week. A year-plus later, Raleigh General is completely paperless. Beebe concedes that although his staff was very accommodating to the "new guy" who wanted to overhaul the system, there were times along the way that they gave him some flak.

“But in the end,” he said, “They were like, ‘Wow! This is awesome!’ We had some doubters originally, but now that they’ve seen the result, they say, ‘Wow, this is great!’”

The Benefits of Going Paperless

Space - Not only did Raleigh General not need to build an additional secure room for files, they were able to get rid of all the filing cabinets they already had. “If you imagine those big filing cabinets — probably about four feet wide, six feet tall, big, long drawers in them...imagine having about 10 of those in your office, and now they’re all gone.” Beebe said. “It gives you so much more room. You don’t feel like you’re tripping over yourself. You walk into HR, and you’re like wow, look at all the space in here!”

Time - “I can find a file so fast it’s ridiculous,” Beebe said. In fact, he’s timed it, just for fun. “It takes me 10 seconds to find a document. Twelve if I need to print.”

That’s a significant improvement over the paper file days, where big, unwieldy paper files were kept together with metal brads.

“Remember those metal brad things?” Beebe laughed. “You’d have to undo that, pull out the pieces of the file you wanted, make a copy, try to put it back in without it falling apart, put the metal brad back in, and refile it. It was just so painful! We don’t have to do any of that anymore.”

Efficiency - Anyone who’s ever worked in HR knows it’s incredibly paper and paper-process heavy. “Building records and tearing them down can take a lot of time, as well as the physical resources to do so,” said Beebe.

“By using our template, a new file can be shelled for formatting in a fraction of the time it previously took. eFileCabinet allows us to move records from the active file to the termed file by simply dragging and dropping, thus making our process simplistic and streamlined.”

The HR team decided they didn’t want to simply copy their current paper format; rather, redesigned how the files should be organized.

The benefits of going paperless have made life a lot easier for Beebe and the nine employees in the HR and Education Department.

For the staff member who answers all unemployment claims, for example, all they have to do is open eFileCabinet, pull up that person’s file, attach it to the email, and send. “It’s simple and seamless, and all done without having to leave your desk,” said Beebe.

“There’s no time wasted. They say that to be more efficient, you should only touch paper once. We don’t even have to worry about that. There’s no mess on your desk, it’s right there on your computer screen, just a couple of clicks away. You don’t even have to scroll through files with your mouse. Simply type in the name you need, click on the file, and you’re in.”

Employees no longer have to wait around in the HR office for help, either. “When an employee needs a copy of something, we simply print and hand it to them. We are so much faster.”

Advice for going paperless

For anyone looking to transition to a paperless office, here is the advice Beebe would give you based on his experience:

Build your template. Know how you want your electronic filing system to be organized, and get input from others using the system as you design it.

Have a plan. You can’t close down your department while you get all your files scanned in to the system, so decide how you’re going to do it while still providing necessary daily services.

Be consistent. Design templates and naming systems that work for your office, and then train your staff to use them.

Scan everything. Make the conscious decision that effective now, anything new that comes in is immediately scanned and saved. No more paper files!

It’s just so simple — it saves so much time, it’s unreal. Reimagine your workday. 

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