Chirag Shivalker

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5 Exceptional Benefits of Automated Data Capture

 

Government agencies in the Indian Metro of Bengaluru had to face the daunting challenge of tracing more than 500 COVID-19 positive tested people, as massive errors committed by data entry operators reduced the number of infected people just to 8. The glaring example sets the precedent for the adoption of automated data capture mechanisms that offer extraordinary accuracy and precision and prevent your processes from going off the track.

Holistically, automated data capture is an umbrella concept that encompasses all technologies and approaches that allow you to capture data from a variety of document formats. Today, 90% of data exists in an unstructured format, and to glean insights from it, a technology-based approach is what your business demands.

Having positive implications on productivity and profitability, now, automated data capture is a strategic imperative for your business. Why? Of the several benefits, some are elaborated here in this article.

What type of data can be automatically captured?

Here are the data types that can be automatically captured:

  • Text on images including handwritten (e.g. signature etc.) and typed texts, that can be read using Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Bubbles: They can be read using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)
  • Cheque and bank data (MICR encoding): Read by Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) technology
  • Quick Response code (QR code) that can be scanned using a barcode scanner

How automated data capture works?

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 A generic workflow explaining how automated data capture works.

5 benefits of automated data capture

Summarized below are the five most crucial benefits that automated data capture offers to your business.

1. Enhanced turnaround

Turnaround in data capture is a productivity parameter, linked to accuracy – least possible error percentage. Notably, automated data capture optimizes data entry turnaround by almost 67% and improves the accuracy of data capture by 50%. 

Here is a real-life use case explaining how automated data capture proved crucial to optimizing turnaround and providing allied benefits to a healthcare service provider.

The Audiology department at a known Children’s Hospital handles more than 16K patient cases during a year. Earlier they had a dedicated staff to process the entire patient information manually. The long, tedious, and time-consuming data capture cycle soon started creating impediments in handling the increasing number of patients. Finally, top management’s decision led to the adoption of automated data capture which

  • Allowed audiometer readings to get directly captured into backend systems.
  • Reduced turnaround, allowing the department to handle 800 additional patients the next year.
  • Streamlined data movement to a central repository, making it easier for the hospital staff to access the patient history for comparison across test results at different points of time.

2. Robust validation 

Validating data authenticity, reliability, accuracy, and precision is the crux to ensuring that you are meeting data quality parameters as well as guidelines.

Automated data capture makes your error prevention more robust. Unlike manual data capture, which is more vulnerable to missing information; automated data capture deploys multi-checks to ensure if certain information was missed from getting captured or is erroneous.

Automated methodologies empower you with robust validation checks and post-check actions. These checks are rule-based and enforce validation against given conditions.

Here are significant benefits that automated data capture brings to the table when it comes to improving the validation processes.

  • Employees don’t have to remain engaged in mundane data entry tasks of re-formatting, combining, and standardizing – which frees uptime.
  • You can quickly ascertain data fitness, the consistency as well as accuracy when data are merged from different sources.
  • There’s no scope for bias invalidation – something that is more common with manual data capture.
  • Systematic procedures layout instructed steps and save your time.
  • Pre-defined audit trails allow quick comparison of original and captured data.

3. Elimination of hidden costs

Multi-step manual data capture, involving repetitive activities, represents significant monetary and time costs. While direct costs like keystrokes per minute (KPM) are easy to calculate, indirect and hidden costs associated with manual data entry cannot be easily evaluated, though they significantly contribute to inflating your total spend.

While based on the nature of your business, you might encounter different hidden manual data entry costs, here is how automated data capture gives you the advantage to overcome them.

  • Automated procedures don’t pause like human operators, which eliminates time delays between movement across fields and in information transformation
  • You don’t have to incur unnecessary penalties for data entry delays
  • Faster and accurate data capture from financial statements like invoices and credits streamline your cash flows.
  • Lesser errors mean lesser exceptions, and this reduces the cost of exception-handling
  • The efficiency of approval workflows improves automatically as loopholes are eliminated

4. Sustainable data processing

In recent years, businesses have been continuously striving to adopt sustainable practices in their business processes. Using digital solutions helps in going paperless and implementing green operations, which apart from reducing costs, also is a strategic action to align your business operations well along with the organization’s sustainability goals.

Automated data capture works as a doorway to sustainable data processing – paperless transactions, optimized machine usage, etc. – and fetches multiple positive results, some of which are as summarized.

  • First and foremost, technology-based solutions bring your staff out of the monotony of manual data capture, replacing frustration and confusion with the energy and enthusiasm that the new approach offers.
  • Digitization minimizes clutter at the workplace and your staff doesn’t have to scramble for searching sources for correcting misfiled entries.
  • Reduction in paper use decreases square feet of floor space requirement. And as you march towards reaching 100% paperless operations, then you optimize a significant proportion of your budgetary spend.

5. Context-specific data capture

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)-enabled data capture solution streamlines expenses management by extracting important fields from receipts and entering them in expenses form automatically.
  • Rule-based data capture efficiently extracts data from bank statements and accurately reconciles them against historical records.
  • Barcodes and QR codes ensure item-level security in supply chains, and update inventory databases in real-time, providing faster inventory cycle counts
  • Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) assists Public Health Centres (PHCs) to fast collect health data from different geographical zones.

Conclusion

Procuring high-end technology and implementing automated data capture is not enough if you lack the understanding of technology-context suitability. Second, going paperless and adopting automation must work in inverse proportion and progressively; since you cannot go 100% digital in a single day. When you lack the knowledge to apply the right automated data capture tools, availing expertise from data entry outsourcing companies shortens your journey to adopting sustainable data capture practices. Their proven expertise and experience are reminiscent of the fact that the most important step to streamlining data capture is to understand the feasibility of adapting automated data capture for your business processes.

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