Wisdom Lu, treasurer at managed care provider Health Net Inc., remembers the days when tens of thousands of checks, accompanied by tens of thousands of Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) and forms from employers wishing to add or remove employees from plans, flowed monthly into the company's various bank lockboxes across the country. She recalls (not fondly) the hours upon hours of manual input required of her staff and the banks' to process the mounds of paper and the usual erroneous data entries that necessarily followed. After all, this was the way it was done less than two years ago.

Today, forms recognition technology–the ability of a computer to recognize a paper form, read its contents and capture the data automatically in a usable format–has changed Lu's professional life. Now, managing this $11 billion in annual payments for the Woodland Hills, Calif.-based company, involves daily digital transmissions from Bank of America that link images of checks with images of other benefit forms, and Lu's department has saved as much as six hours in processing time per batch of payments.

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