The terms “digital” and “electronic” are often used interchangeably these days, including when it comes to talking about records management. While there is a lot of overlap in how these terms are used, it can be useful to distinguish between digital vs. electronic documents, particularly when it comes to designing a records management strategy.
Digital Vs. Electronic Records – FAQs and Differences
To understand the differences between digital and electronic records, let’s define each of them and look at the uses of each.
What is a Digital Record?
- Scanned Documents
- Digital Audio and Video Files
- Ebooks and PDFs
- Digital Artwork
A digital record is a document that originated in digital format. It’s often a digital analogue of a physical record, such as a PDF of an application form, legal document, or invoice.
As a side note, while they use the word “electronic” in the name, electronic health records (EHRs) fit under this definition since they are simply digital versions of the paper charts used for patient medical histories.
Digital records can be easily transmitted electronically and modified, but they could also be printed out, making them a highly versatile component of internal workflows and external communication.
What is an Electronic Record?
- Emails and Attachments
- Software Applications
- Web Pages and Blogs
As opposed to digital records, electronic records are those solely for use within computer systems. They aren’t intended to represent actual documents, and they often include such items as digital purchase receipts, images, emails, electronic inventories, etc.
Diving into the Differences between Digital and Electronic Records
While the terms ‘digital records’ and ‘electronic records’ are often used interchangeably, they refer to different types of documents in the realm of document management. Here, we break down their differences in a listicle for easier understanding:
1. Origins of the Records:
Digital Records: These are digitized versions of physical documents or documents originally created in a digital format. This could be a scanned paper form or a Word document created on a computer.
Electronic Records: These records are born and exist solely within computer systems. They are typically system-generated or user input data in databases or other electronic systems.
Digital Records: They can be easily accessed, viewed, and shared, regardless of the device used. They are usually portable and flexible for use.
Electronic Records: These often require specific software or systems to access and utilize, like databases, and are less easily portable outside of those systems.
3. Interaction and Usability:
Digital Records: These are often more static, used primarily for viewing or sharing. Though they can be edited using appropriate software, they are frequently used as-is.
Electronic Records: They are dynamic, and users can interact with them, processing, analyzing, or manipulating the data within.
4. Utilization in Business Processes:
Digital Records: They are commonly used for record keeping, communication, and are often the end-product of business processes.
Electronic Records: These are critical for automated and data-driven processes. They are integral to systems like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and more.
By understanding these differences, you can optimize your record keeping and document management processes, leveraging the strengths of both digital and electronic records as needed.
Why is electronic records management important?
Digital and electronic records management is vital since it helps make your electronic data accessible. If it’s locked away in a database or server, it’s not particularly visible, and it would thus be easy to overlook when making important decisions.
Converting data into digital format is a vital component of this process. Scanning, OCR, and other extraction methods are integral to creating a paperless workflow, but many organizations simply aren’t there yet. Often, reliance on paper gets in the way.
Advantages of Digital and Electronic Records Management
Digital and electronic records management is an important part of operating in today’s market. Often, an experienced third-party provider can help you implement these processes in a cost-effective manner.
Wide Range of Electronic Management Services
The first advantage of using third-party digital records management is the wide range of services on offer. For instance, Armstrong Archives offers the following:
- Document scanning
- Shredding and secure destruction
- Document storage
- Consulting and logistics
Implementing all of these in-house would be costly in terms of infrastructure, security protocols, etc. By using our services, you’ll spare yourself the massive upfront costs of doing everything yourself.
With effective digital records management, you’ll save time on filing and retrieving documents, making for a much more efficient workflow. That way, your personnel spend less time leafing through files and more time actually using the data in your digital and electronic records.
A digital document management strategy must account for security. A third-party provider will already have effective security protocols in place, and that means a reduction in lost files and compromised data.
Improved Service to Customers, Patients, and Clients
The end result of these benefits is improved service for your clients, customers, or patients. Effective electronic records management is not only useful, but vital.
For instance, EHRs are regarded as an integral component of improving the healthcare industry, so it’s important to be able to manage them effectively. With an effective system in place, you’ll be better equipped to provide unparalleled service. Armstrong Archives can help you achieve that.