The South Dakota Department of Labor, Workers’ Compensation division was sinking


The South Dakota Department of Labor, Workers’ Compensation division was sinking under a load of paper files. This state agency ascertains that employees are treated fairly when they are injured on the job. If a person (or company) called to see the status of an injury claim, the clerk 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 (i.e., the 415th person injured in 2008 would be in a file numbered 08-415). Few callers knew 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 injury requiring only 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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