The South Dakota Department of Labor, Workers’ Compensation division was sinking under a load of paper files. As a state agency which ascertains that employees are treated fairly when they are injured on the job, the agency had a plethora of paper files and filing cabinets. If a person (or company) called to see the status of an injury claim, the clerk who received the call would have to take a message, get the paper file, review the status, and call the person back.
Files were stored in huge filing cabinets and were entered by year and case number (for example, the 415th person injured in 2008 would be in a file numbered 08-415). But most callers did not remember the file number and would give their name and address and the date of injury. The clerk would look in a spiral notebook for the last name around the date that was given-and then find the file number to retrieve the folder. Some folders were small-possibly documenting a minor cut or minor injury, and the employee was back to work after a brief treatment period. Other folders could be very large, with numerous medical reports from several doctors verifying the extent of a serious injury and treatment (such as an arm amputation). A digital solution was suggested-reports could be submitted online via a secure website. Medical reports could be submitted electronically, either as a pdf file or as a faxed digital file. This solution would also mean that the clerk taking the phone call could query the database by the person’s name and access the information in a matter of seconds.
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