3 steps to a smooth paperless transition

Aug. 19, 2011
Going paperless is a process, not an event. To help you avoid the stress that can occur during this transition, start will these three steps from consultant Jennifer Schultz to keep you on track from the get-go.

By Jennifer Schultz

“We can’t imagine going back to paper charts!”

“We should have gone paperless a long time ago!”

Can you say this about your office? These offices are experiencing the benefits of increased efficiency and productivity just by going paperless. You can have this same experience by transitioning to a paperless office. To avoid the stress that can occur during this process, all you need is a simple plan.

Take these three steps to make your transition to a paperless office smooth and easy from the very start:

1. Define your transition timeline.

Going paperless is a process, not an event. Just because you now have digital radiographs and a scanner does not mean you can be paperless by Monday. You need to strategize each step and create a timeline for the entire transition. Six to 18 months is a good starting point depending on the size of your practice, number of staff members, number of patients, and how much your office is already using the computer.

2. Identify how and where your information will be stored.

Think about the information you now have in your patients' charts and decide where that will be located in the computer and how it will get there. Remember to include all patient information, from personal notes to medical alerts. Identify where each piece will be located when you are no longer using paper charts. When deciding what information will be scanned, consider the amount of time it will take to scan documents and/or radiographs and store them in a digital chart. I recommend timing how long it will take to scan one patient’s chart and multiply that by your total number of patients. Use this information when deciding how much history you would like to include in the digital chart and if you will be employing additional help for scanning.

3. With each step, consider what will be best for the office.

Just because you are going paperless does not mean you need to have everything stored the computer. The objective of this process is to make your office more efficient and productive. If your new system is not doing that for your office, then create another way. For example, lab slips could be scanned into the patient’s chart, entered into the patient’s clinical notes, or filed in an accordion file. When deciding what to do with your lab slips, consider what information you need from the slips and how often you may refer back to it. Think about the time needed to scan the lab slip, compared to typing the information you need into clinical notes. What will work best for your office?

With proper planning, going paperless can be a fun and exciting time for your practice. Take the first step in the paperless process, and plan your meeting to discuss the transition to a more efficient, productive practice.

Author bio
Jennifer Schultz is the owner of Productive Practice, a practice-management consulting company specializing in strategic planning workshops. For more information about Productive Practice, visit www.ProductivePractice.net or contact Jennifer Schultz directly at (563) 542-2546 or [email protected].