For patients, visiting the doctor’s office can sometimes feel like an exercise in memory recall:
Which medications are you taking?
What’s your family’s health history?
What has changed in the past year?
With the power of technology and Electronic Medical Records (EHR/EMRs) physicians now have comprehensive access to patient vital data with the click of a mouse.
As well as the benefit of patients not having to repeat themselves, there is also the environmental benefit of not having to waste paper.
Through EHRs, many general practices are slowly developing into paperless enterprises.
Going from a medical clinic that is completely paperless is now a reality. However, some providers may shy away from going paperless because it sounds like a huge task to accomplish that may be costly and time consuming.
The upfront expenses and time requirements of converting to a paperless office can sometimes be intimidating for doctors. However, once implemented, going paperless is cost effective, saves time, and outweighs the time cost.
To transform a medical office, here are a five simple steps to help doctors move towards a paperless medical clinic.
– Electronic Health Records enables health care providers to effectively manage patient care through the documentation, storage, use and sharing of patient records. There are numerable benefits of switching from a paper medical record to an electronic health record (EHR). However, it is wise to take your time when choosing the best EHR for your clinic. Consider usability alongside cost. Also remember that there are still issues with integration between EHRs for many of the current service providers.
– Document Scanning a patient’s photo ID and insurance information; paper EOB’s (explanation of benefits) and other correspondence from insurance companies; and paper medical records to be changed to an electronic health record.
– Patient Portals that are integrated with your EHR allows an interactive resource for your patients, and also increases patient participation in scheduling appointments. Through a portal your patients can complete registration information, obtain x-ray and lab results, ask questions to your team, and pay their bill. It also speeds up the process of receiving medical history forms and sending information back to patients.
– E-prescribing is a safer, more secure and faster method of prescribing patient medication. E-prescribing is the means of transmitting a prescription or prescription-related information between a prescriber or dispenser, in an electronic format either directly or through an e-prescribing network. Most doctors have some level of experience with this process now, and can make a significant paper and time saving by going to a completely E-prescription model.
– Electronic documentation software allows for online alterations (markups, highlights, etc), fax electronically, emailed, and saved or printed to PDF. You can consider free options like google docs to begin with and see if it is a useful tool for your clinic.
While no medical office can likely be 100% paper free immediately, these 5 simple steps can definitely bring about positive results.
It is important to remember that your team may prefer paper documents especially when it has been part of your internal systems for a long time. In order to make a seamless change, it is important to discuss the impact and efficacy with the team.
The important thing to remember is that change is key to continually improving, and becoming paperless is a change that adds benefit to your medical office, lowers your impact on the environment, and can potentially improve the level of care provided to your patients.
Want to Read More?
The Paperless Medical Office Report by ACP
Economic and Ecological Benefits of Going Paperless by AIIM Community