Transitioning to a “Paperless Office” is a big undertaking, so here are five tips to get started.
Take your time
Moving to a paperless (nearly) office isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. In fact removing the dependence on paper is a voyage that may never have a final destination. The best solution to the paperless office is to set small achievable goals over a period of time rather than assigning massive changes. For you clinic this might mean focusing on different areas of your practice and implementing changes over time. For example: You could start by keeping electronic records only for new patients to your practice, then after a month or so start working with existing patient who are attending for new injuries, then begin the process for existing patients.
Maximise the use of technology
When using modern technology many tasks that appear to require paper can now be eliminated. As an example, scanners that in the past would take a couple of minutes to scan a document now do this on double sided pages in seconds. Scanners can even convert printed text into a recognisable format so you can copy text from the document. When connected with a Practice Management Application that can communicate directly to a scanner, documents such as printed GP referrals can be loaded into a digital file in moments and the physical copy returned to the patient.
Change the approach
The term going paperless really refers to the change of attitude you need to make in your practice. Everyone in the practice needs to start thinking differently about how they record things so you can efficiently move away from paper record and notes. For example, simply writing notes and scanning them into a computer, or writing digitally onto a PDF document, although paperless, isn’t truly taking advantage of current technology. It is just creating paper notes in a computer. By altering your mindset and instead thinking about different ways of recording information you can improve how you record and access patient data.
Think about not only the paper you keep but also what you give out to your patients. Consider emailing invoices and appointment confirmations rather than printing them, or investing more into online marketing rather than printing off too many flyers. If you do need to print, could you use smaller pages? From a clinical perspective, consider using the features available in existing software programs to email a link to a patient’s exercise programs rather the writing it down or printing it out.
Don’t forget to back up
When data is stored digitally, backing up and keeping multiple copies of your records and practice information is simple and easy. This ensures that in a disaster you don’t lose any information and can easily get back up and running. Every practice should have a backup and disaster recovery plan that outlines how and when backups are performed, where they are stored and, if they are required, what the process is for restoring them. You can use technology such as your Practice Management Software to assist with this as well as other applications which helps to simplify the process.