Questioning the E-Form Existence
Software advances cause the superform of the '90s to take on multiple forms.
What looked to be the super-modern form of the '90s quickly became, in a way, outdated. As software technology progressed, so did the way we relayed information. As a result, not all of the data entered into computers needs to be printed on paper. In fact, a lot of it is routed via e-mail and stored in its appropriate place. That may be why some suppliers are reluctant to call electronic forms forms at all.
"The electronic form in itself hit the wall in 1998," said Bob Lachner, RxLaser, Brea, Calif. "We found that we had to go beyond printing because people wanted to be able to e-mail and fax from the same e-form template and route it different ways."
Basically, he added, customers wanted to move from a hardware to a software solution. "Just consider that it costs $0.52 to mail an invoice, $0.07 to send it by fax and nothing to send through e-mail," said Lachner. "That's a 30 percent cost cut, so it only makes sense for users to go with software options."
Lachner explained that as technology progresses, the use of electronic forms—or software applications—will diminish the number of printed forms. "Zero cost wins out; e-mail not only sends information faster, it gives senders confirmation that it was received," said Lachner.
Currently, RxLaser's standard electronic forms are virtual forms stored as pictures on a laser printer font cartridge. When installed into the printer, the form image and the data can be merged together in one pass. Since the form becomes an extension of the laser printer's memory, lengthy downloads and complex operations involving forms software packages are eliminated. Also eliminated is the need to buy pre-printed form stock.
The cost for going electronic by upgrading from dot matrix to laser printers can be as low as $3,000. For a complete software program with multi-functions, the investment is about $100,000.