BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— Self-Insured Schools of California (SISC) converted to digital document management because its burgeoning paper files were becoming an impediment to productivity and, ultimately, to its ability to grow.

In the process of getting rid of the paper, the digital solution they chose, utilizing Laserfiche document management software, has led to significant productivity gains and is a reason that SISC is growing faster than ever.

“The addition of the Laserfiche imaging system to our operations has created an environment that has resulted in increased productivity and more efficient claims handling,” says Dr. Russell E. Bigler, who serves as CEO of SISC, a division of the Office of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools that insures 200,000 school employees and their dependents in 317 California school districts. SISC processed $685 million in premiums during the 2004-2005 fiscal year. That amount is expected to exceed $700 million during the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

The conversion to digital document management has had a positive impact on all five SISC departments – health insurance, workers compensation, property and liability insurance, administration and finance. But its effect on workers compensation operations, where case examiners are said to be three to four times more productive, stands out.

“The paper files in workers compensation were just about out of control,” explains Wanda Carl, who oversees the Laserfiche deployment as SISC’s office manager and systems administrator. “We were getting close to the legal limit of 150 cases per examiner but were not in a position to bring in more because we had no room.”

“We had a mechanical filing system occupying a 30 by 35 foot room, and were up to 40 four-drawer standing file cabinets. The files were literally backing the examiners into a corner.”

SISC had two choices: Move to larger quarters or reclaim the space by getting rid of the paper. “We never liked the idea of moving,” says Carl. “It would separate us from the rest of the Superintendent’s Office. And the examiners would still be dealing with all that paper.”

Instead, SISC turned to Tom Ziencina of DataNET Solutions, a Laserfiche value added reseller based in Anaheim, Calif. He developed a plan to convert the entire enterprise, which included a recommendation that they focus first on rescuing the workers compensation unit from its paper-related tribulations.

Starting late in 2003, SISC scanned the files of one case examiner after the other until all 18 were working entirely with digital files. “They were not only handling their cases three to four times more productively, they were feeling better about themselves and about coming to work,” Carl says “That was one of many unexpected side benefits.”

Carl adds, “The most obvious improvement is to our ability to handle requests from outsiders, such as doctors and attorneys. The caller might need a report from a case that has been going on for 10 years. Before, it might have taken days to go through a 12-inch-thick file looking for this one item. Now, the examiner is able to find it in seconds. They then send it out by fax or email. In two minutes, the person on the phone is taken care of.”

All told, including scanning for all departments, SISC has digitized nearly two million pages of files, cleaning out the mechanical file system and getting rid of 40 file cabinets. They sold off the mechanical file and converted the 1050 square feet of reclaimed space into four new work stations and two offices. That conversion alone eliminated any immediate need to move to larger quarters. Combined with the space reclaimed by getting rid of the file cabinets, SISC now expects to be able to stay where it is for at least another five years.

Currently, 82 of 85 SISC employees, including Dr. Bigler, are using the Laserfiche document management solution every day. The three not yet on the system are field investigators who may soon have access to it remotely via laptops. Working with DataNET Solutions, SISC also plans to integrate Laserfiche with other software applications to automate some business processes.

Founded in 1978 as Self-Insured Schools of Kern County, SISC was empowered to act on behalf of member school districts to provide them with the top quality benefits for the lowest possible costs. As the original organization grew and succeeded in its mission, schools districts outside Kern County began asking to be allowed to join. The name was changed to Self-Insured Schools of California in 1996. Since then, SISC has grown from 44 employees serving 140 school districts to the present complement of 85 employees serving 317 districts.

About Laserfiche
Based in Long Beach, Calif., Laserfiche (www.laserfiche.com) creates simple and elegant document management solutions that help organizations run smarter. Laserfiche solutions are used in more than 21,000 government and business offices worldwide.