Many users rely on PDF viewing, annotation, and manipulation tools when working with documents, especially in case management scenarios such as policy and claim document management within the Insurance industry. In many of these systems, users are forced to download PDFs to the local machine in order to work with the document within Adobe Acrobat. However, with modern browser technologies, it is possible to streamline this process by doing more in the web browser, side-stepping the need to download documents in order to work with PDFs within Adobe Acrobat.
For further discussion on why we recommend utilizing PDFs and PDF renditions in ECM systems, check out this blog article written from an Alfresco perspective, but really applies to any ECM back end. When working with documents in a case management system, there are a number of common requirements and features beyond simply viewing documents that we see from many clients:
- PDF Renditioning – in order to view many different document types quickly and easily in a web browser, it is necessary to implement a PDF renditioning solution along with the ECM repository. Both Documentum and Alfresco have built-in solutions for this, but we have also worked with Adlib to provide this functionality as well, especially for clients utilizing Hadoop or Amazon DynamoDB.
- Document Comments and Annotations – users want to be able to comment on top of documents, including sticky notes, drawing tools, highlight/strike text, and others. The system should allow for these annotations be a layer on top of the actual document since oftentimes the original document must be preserved as-is per evidence rules.
- Combine Multiple Documents into One – Often, users need to combine two or more documents into one in order to generate a document “package” that is then sent to 3rd party systems.
- Splitting a Single Document into Multiple – If documents are ingested by an automated scanning process, users will need the ability to split a PDF into multiple documents to handle the case where two or more documents were processed by the scanner as one document.
- Video Stills – for clients ingest video files into the case folder, users will need to be able to capture one or more still pictures from the video to ingest into the case folder for use with other documents. One common scenario is to combine image stills with other documents in the case folder
- Send Document via Email – after manipulating the document as described above, it is often sent to a 3rd party via email. For example, in the case of an insurance claim it could be the claimant, legal counsel, or another insurance company.
100% In-Browser Approach
Rather than forcing users to download documents manually and manipulate them in Adobe Acrobat, it’s possible to use modern browser technology to streamline the process. In our product set, we are able to view and work with documents and videos utilizing OpenAnnotate and OpenContent Case.
First, the user must be able to select from the list of case documents to choose which to work with. In smaller cases (less than 50 documents), this can be a trivial process, but in larger cases robust document filtering is a key asset. In OpenContent Case, we can filter based text, or administrators can set up a “demand package” that automatically filters the case documents based on pre-configured rules. For example:
While viewing documents in the browser, the user can easily add annotations on top of the document, as well as manipulate the document by rotating and reordering pages (see more in the video below):
Similarly, the user can view and annotate video files as well. Annotation points can be captured as a video still screenshot and the image file is placed in the case folder:
Then the user can utilize the Combine to PDF action in OpenContent case to combine the above documents into one:
The above interface, after specifying properties for the resulting document, generates a combined PDF with an initial index page such as:
This combined document, stored in the case folder, can then be sent directly from the system to a 3rd party via email.
Check out the video below to see this process in action:
When talking to clients, many have inefficiencies in current processes that revolve around needing to download documents and manipulate them in Adobe Acrobat locally. However, with modern browser tools, it is possible to greatly streamline this process directly within the user’s work flow within the document management system. Let us know your thoughts below.