As the population increased over the decades, so did our paper consumption. And more times than we care to admit, we are still using a lot of paper. It’s just beyond the obvious basic items we typically recycle (or throw out). While we celebrate Earth Day as an opportunity to appreciate our planet’s natural resources, we can also take a moment to reflect on how digital transformation is making our planet, well, greener.
Going Mobile for Mortgage Loans
Recent memory of basic mortgage loan applications is a prime example. The application process was completed analog and paper-based. It was only exacerbated by requests for duplicative information, which again generated more paper. Once you finally completed your mortgage loan, you would need a wheelbarrow to move your loan application from point A to point B. And keep in mind that is just the paperwork you know about. It doesn’t include all the paperwork that is generated in the back office or by other vendor partners. Once the total reaches about 16 reams of paper, it is the equivalent of one tree.
In the light of new technology, we’re started to see a change. Albeit slowly, it’s starting to happen. During the commercial break of Walking Dead, your application for a mortgage loan can be initiated with your mobile phone or device (whatever is closest to you on the couch). Various forms of ID, bank statements and bills are captured with a snap, and all of the pertinent information is extracted and populated into various forms and databases. Pens are becoming “retro” as you use your fingertip to sign the screen. All transacted from the comfort of your couch and with the added benefit of not having to drive to your bank or broker.
Focusing on Patients, Not Forms
Paper is also slowly disappearing from our healthcare system. During a recent hospital visit with a family member, at the reception desk, she was handed an iPad to update her information. As I looked over her shoulder, I noticed how all her medical personal information was pre-populated and all she had to do was verify her information. Not a piece of paper anywhere in sight. During her visit, the physician updated her information electronically and submitted her prescription to the pharmacy. Not long after, she received a text message from the pharmacy letting us know it was time to pick up her prescription. Did I just see a grove of trees pop up?
But across town, in another doctor’s office, I have noticed a great many patients with stacks of files and paperwork to show their physician or front office administrator. Earth day aside, the burden of carrying and keeping all that medical paperwork can be a challenge for patients. You can’t help but overhear the front desk staff say “Just fill these forms out” and promptly handing over a clipboard, crammed with several sheets of paper and a pen. And feel sympathy for the person who has just been handed this as they wait anxiously to see their doctor.
Submitting Claims from the Road
Insurance is another industry long known for its plethora of paper trails. Take your run of the mill fender bender. The only thing that makes the accident more painful is thinking about all the paperwork associated with filing a claim. And while there is a long appeal of carrying a notebook or notepad around, one is not always readily available.
Fortunately, many commercial auto carriers have jumped on the mobile app bandwagon. By simply opening the app and taking a few photos, you can submit your accident claim in mere moments. As this data is submitted through the app, the back office goes to work extracting the necessary information to fill out the claim forms and route them to an insurance adjuster. You can forgo the trip to your insurance agent and all the piles of paperwork to submit your claim. And more trees are saved in the process.
By using technology and mobile apps, we have increased our digital footprint, and more importantly, reduced the carbon one. Each of these examples shows how we are moving from paper-based to electronic, digitized processes, better serving and engaging with customers, patients and policyholders. And that is something we can all celebrate on Earth Day.