Ask any office if they are “paperless,” and you will often hear an affirmative response. In the same conversation, though, you’ll hear mention of new patient forms, HIPAA documents, and financial agreements – all of which are paper.
So is a paperless office truly realistic in this age, or is there a better option?
Many times, when an office refers to itself as paperless, what it really means is chartless.
To go chartless, your office needs to move all patient charts to digital format. There are plenty of consultants out there who can educate your practice on the latest software and technology to eliminate paper charts, and there are many practice management programs to choose from, like Greenway Primesuite, Healthfusion, eClinicalWorks, CareCloud, Dentrix, EagleSoft, Softdent, Practiceworks, and more. Practice managers, office managers, doctors, and dentists can research each option to find out which one is the best fit for their office, and they can become chartless.
Paperless, however, is an entirely different beast. A truly paperless practice does not have any form, agreement, or document of any kind in paper form. Everything is signed, stored, and transferred electronically. Is this possible? Yes, but just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s realistic or wise.
For most practices, going chartless is a better idea than attempting to go paperless. While the idea of “paperless” carries a certain allure, it also brings a lot of limitations – especially for your patients.
It’s great to keep all your charts and internal documents in a digital format for the sake of simplicity and efficiency, but there’s no guarantee that all of your patients are equipped to handle electronic documents on their end. Think about your patient demographic. How old are your average patients? What about your patients who don’t have a computer at home? Or the patients who have a computer, but it isn’t reliable? Or the ones who simply aren’t comfortable filling out and sending their data over the Internet?
A truly paperless practice presents quite a conundrum in these situations, because ultimately, a practice must decide if it’s willing to endure the complications of a patient who isn’t equipped to handle digital forms.
Realistically, at this point in time, chartless is the wiser and more attainable goal. It will keep your office running smoothly without undue clutter, but it also provides the option for paper forms and documents.
Interested in starting a conversation about how your practice can go chartless? Contact us today.