Paper Cuts Can be Profitable
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Budget Rent A Car System Inc. has it, United Parcel Service now offers it, Reliant Energy recently announced cash incentives for using it. The IRS has been doing it for years. More and more dental practices, medical offices, retail businesses are providing it. What is “it”? Paperless options.
Paperless billing, paperless shipping, paperless tax filing, paperless records, forms, documents, etcetera, etcetera, digital processes that are gradually making the storage, the expense, and the hassle associated with paperwork a thing of the past.
For many of the leading edge dental practices that consider themselves “paperless,” they are more accurately described as chartless. The clinical functions such as charting, treatment planning, and progress notes are completed on computers in the operatories and digital X-rays are stored on a server rather than in a patient’s paper chart.
Certainly, those digital systems are significant steps toward the “paperless practice,” but what about all the paper generated from forms and legal documents, such as HIPAA forms, Informed Consent, and medical histories that must be printed, completed, and kept on file in a practice? The cost and time associated with managing these documents is significant. In fact, one small business in Florida actually documented the cost of using paper vs. digital records. It found that it had been spending some $40,000 in printer paper, toner and ink, copies, copier paper, envelopes, postage, and time spent on filing documents. Needless to say the savings from going paperless were significant.
Given the strides being made by companies like DentForms, it’s conceivable that a dental practice could become 99% paperless in the not too distant future as digital options now available enable practices to manage the vast majority of paper produced.
DentForms, which is compatible with most major practice management systems, allows a practice to create digital reproductions of all paper forms. They can be changed, updated, or modified based on the information needed. Forms requiring patient signatures, such as Informed Consent, HIPAA, medical histories and others are stored in a digital format on the computer. No paper required. No filing necessary. No storage cabinet needed.
So, how does the patient complete the form without your practice having to print it out and hand it to them on a clipboard? By using your office computers and brilliantly designed software for ease of use. Once the form is completed, the patient simply signs a small digital signature device and the signature is electronically applied to the appropriate document. The process is incredibly simple, fast, and efficient for patients and the practice. With a simple click of a mouse the patient’s information is right at your fingertips and there’s no need for double-entry.
Another feature allows patients to complete many forms online before they come in for their appointment. The online forms are then downloaded into the practice’s server, bringing all the necessary information to the practice automatically. When the patient comes in for their appointment, they simply sign the electronic key pad, which is the same type of device used when you make a credit card purchase in the store. The electronic signature is encrypted and permanently retained in an unalterable format acceptable in court. Moreover, if the required signature is missing from a document, the program issues a strong alert indicating that the document must be signed.
For those who feel strongly that the process isn’t complete until they hold a piece of paper in their hand, the program allows for any document to be printed at any time.
What’s more, programs such as this ensure that you never lose your records due to fire. They won’t fade or become damaged. They can’t be lost or misplaced and they can be backed up effortlessly.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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