A chartless practice is not the same as a paperless one. Today, many dental offices have already gone chartless. In a chartless practice, a paper file is replaced with a digital chart that stores patient records electronically.

Unfortunately in a chartless practice, many things are done twice. Patients fill out information on paper, and the patient care coordinator re-enters information into the computer. Then they scan and shred paper forms and print out routing slips for the doctor to fill out during the patient’s visit. They may take the time to highlight all of the actionable information for the doctor and the team to address. After the patient leaves, the patient care coordinator retypes doctor’s notes from the routing slip into the computer and shreds the routing slip. While this gets the job done, it wastes a lot of valuable time that could be spent on more important tasks.

By contrast, true paperless means there is never a paper stage. A true paperless practice utilizes technology to bypass paper by collecting and using data electronically.

And while a chartless system has its benefits, it fails to realize some of the greatest benefits of a paperless practice – the ability to reduce redundancy and eliminate duplication of effort.

What do you do in your practice? If you use a digital chart to store your patients’ records, but you still generate paper forms, manually enter data into your practice management software, scan and shred paper, your office is not paperless, it’s chartless.


Let’s compare the two processes:

Scanning accomplishes some benefits of going paperless. Scanned documents provide protection against accidental distraction, loss, and unauthorized use when properly backed up and safeguarded. With a good indexing system, scanned documents don’t take up much space and are easily retrievable.

Unfortunately, scanning is just another way of filing documents – it’s tedious, time-consuming, inefficient, and very expensive.

In a truly paperless practice, efficiency is achieved by eliminating wasteful manual processes through automation and integration. By leveraging robust data-centric workflows, we can save time, improve patient care, reduce errors, and lower our operational costs.


When compared side by side, the winner here is obvious. Don’t be discouraged if you have a reliable scanning system in place. You can soon be on your way to switching over to an entirely paperless practice. Stay tuned for more articles on going paperless.

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