Indexing Records: How Do You Want To Look It Up?

Scott Hambrick
Posted by Scott Hambrick

indexing recordsWe all want to go paperless and would...except we still have a lot of paper. Bridging the gap between paper and digital records is a big step towards a paperless environment.  We bridge those worlds with record indexing. Record indexing makes your paper records searchable on your computer by capturing important identifying data from the paper originals.

Properly indexed information is separated into various categories for easy searching, retrieval and manipulation. Indexes for medical records might include patient info, document types and visit info. Medical records indexes could include:

  • Name:                                          Scott Hambrick 
  • Date of Birth:                                Long time ago
  • Doc Type:                                     Labs
  • Last Date of Service:                      2/17/2013

Once this indexing is completed, our customers can search for individual medical records by document type, patient name, patient DOB or the last visit date. Indexing by these criteria allow records managers to locate the records they need (name, DOB), or to pull reports of records eligible for destruction (DOB, Date of service.)

Things to consider when undertaking an indexing project:

  • What should we index first?
    • For example, some clients may need older sets of records indexed first. Companies that regularly deal with IRS scrutiny may need immediate access to old financial records and invoices.
    • In other instances, newest records should be indexed first as they are most frequently searched and accessed.
  •  Indexing must be performed by trustworthy, professional staff members.
    • Indexing analysts have access to sensitive information or trade secrets.
    • For maximum records security, thoughtful managers reserve the most sensitive indexing jobs for employees with proven integrity.
  • Naming conventions
    • Use consistent index subject terms. Since index subject organization is critical, it's trouble when problematic when index names mean different things in different contexts. By the same token, it can complicate data retrieval when indexers use multiple terms with the same essential meaning.
    • We always consider the accuracy rates required by the customer and do statistical checks to achieve accuracy targets.
    • If complete accuracy is a necessity, we often do double entry record indexing.  Two indexing clerks key the indexes for a set of records.  Our software matches the work of the two clerks.  If it matches exactly the work is accepted.  If there are discrepancies, the work is schedule for a redo.  Accuracy is SUPER high with double entry.
  • What should we record?            
    • Indexes that are necessary to the record
      • Without an oil well name, a well file isn’t very useful.  Without an amount, a check stub isn’t complete.  Let’s record those things.
    • Indexes that aid in managing the record
      • Last activity dates allow managers to create lists of records that are eligible for destruction.  These dates could be dates of service on medical records, expiration dates on lease files or maturity dates on commercial loans.
      • Department codes could provide information about who is responsible for the record.
    • Indexes that aid in your work.
      • If you look up Purchase Orders by PO numbers, you better index the PO number. Remember, you aren’t limited to searching for records by one criteria like you are when they are filed alphabetically in a file cabinet. You can search for a record by any criteria you record. Name, Date, Number, Description and more can be queried to provide you with very specific and useful results.

We index tens of thousands of records every week at Data Storage We have created records indexing guidelines for each customer and document type we work with.  We use these to train our indexing clerks. I’d be glad to share some of that information with you if it would help with your project.

For more information, watch this video on How To Index Records.

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