Have you wondered what it’d be like to transition from charts and files to iPads and online forms? Or maybe you are getting ready to start a new practice? You could be entirely paperless from the outset. In either scenario, you can create a paperless practice in just six simple steps!
The following is an excerpt from our newest eBook, “Your Journey to a Paperless Practice.” You can get your FREE copy here.
Understand Your Objectives and Pain Points
For most practices, becoming paperless is not about paper at all. Helping the environment and saving money on paper and toner are nice byproducts of the process. Many doctors are primarily concerned with technology, communication, and patient experience. They are also looking to lower operational costs through efficiency, communication, and better resource utilization. So, what are your motivations for going paperless? Understanding the problems you are trying to solve can help you create better goals, find better fitting solutions, and develop processes that help you accomplish your goals.
Choose the Right Solution for Your Practice
Your practice management software is the foundation for your paperless system. Evaluate whether your current software can handle your needs. Upgrade your software as needed.
Keep in mind that many of the practice management software systems used today were created to support a paper chart. These systems work around paper-centric workflow, not real-time data workflow. Even if you already have a great practice management software in your practice, you may still need to add integrated third-party software to create a complete paperless ecosystem.
Update your Equipment
Evaluate your existing equipment and invest in the right equipment from the beginning. Keep in mind that technology becomes obsolete quickly. As you continue, you may need to
re-evaluate and reinvest in newer and more robust technology.
Create a Plan
If you are starting a new practice, it’s best to go paperless from the outset. Doing it right from the beginning will give you an opportunity to create the best system possible and institute good habits for your team. Starting out with a hybrid system will establish habits that will be difficult to unlearn.
If you have an existing practice, you don’t need to make a leap to paperless all at once. It’s called “going paperless” because it’s a process. Instead of flipping a switch, consider your timeframe and strategies for adopting a new system and work towards your goal incrementally.
Start by creating a vision of what the office is going to look like when you are done and reverse engineer your vision to figure out the steps. Share your vision with your team and continue to clearly communicate your vision throughout the process.
Develop and Document your New Standard Operating Procedures
Mostly everything you do in your practice feels familiar and comfortable for everyone. It’s highly likely that how you do things in the office has been verbally passed down from one team member to another. The new technology is going to disrupt your current workflow.
For a smooth transition to take place, new workflows need to be created and documented. Job descriptions may need to be changed and rewritten.
Stay The Course
It may take 12-18 months to go from an office full of paper charts to a true paperless, digital office.
Anticipate initial delays. It will take some time for things to start running smoothly. Anticipate that team members will have questions and challenges with adopting new processes. Be patient and provide extra training and time when needed. Have regular meetings to discuss progress. Reiterate your vision. Celebrate whenever you reach your short-term goals and reward your early adopters.
As you implement, you will learn from the process and be able to fine tune your new systems.