3.30.07 - Issue # 264 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
Printer Friendly Version

Paper or Paperless?...That is the Question!

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Sandra Stieffel Case Study #619

A big question in many doctors’ minds is the paperless (chartless) issue.  “Do we or don’t we?”

“Nancy, I have a couple of dentist friends that are converting their practice from paper to paperless.  I want to stay up with the times.  From a practice management standpoint, what do you think?”  Dr. Stieffel  is a former client of McKenzie Management so we knew she had good systems in place.

Practice facts:

  • 15 year practice
  • Storage space was limited
  • Excellent dental software program with all staff members trained
  • Old x-ray processor on its last leg
  • Computers in the hygiene rooms only
  • Almost 2000 active patients

As a management consulting company we are always looking at major purchases for clients from a “return on investment” standpoint.  Based on the information that Dr. Stieffel shared regarding her current situation, it appeared that if she was going to consider making the change, now might be a good time to do it.  McKenzie Management recommended she seek the expert advice of Dr. Lorne Lavine who is President of Dental Technology Consultants, Inc.  Dr. Lavine would be able to help her choose the right equipment and ensure that it was installed correctly.

Here are a few of the things you need to have to make the change:

  • Computers in all the operatories
  • Digital radiography – including a Digital Pan if you take pans
  • A scanner to scan all the correspondence that you receive regarding your patient – remember, you won’t have a chart to put things in!
  • Well-trained and computer-literate staff because it takes organization to run a chartless office.  There are no “writing notes on sticky-pads and sticking it on a chart for later”
  • A plan of conversion
  • A reliable “back-up “ system for your computer

It was time for her to add additional computers to her operatories as well as hygiene.  Her team was computer literate so the transition would not be difficult for them.

She is limited in storage space.  Going chartless definitely frees up space after you decide what to do with your “old” charts!

She has a healthy active patient base and is seeing almost 40 patients a day.  This is a lot of filing and re-filing patient charts all day long.  You have no idea how many charts are touched a day by the business and clinical staff.  Being able to access all the information by a touch of a few keystrokes is amazing!

 What about the down-side of being paper/chartless? 

In my opinion, the biggest challenge the practice has when they are paper/chartless is when there is a new staff person that needs to be trained or a temporary staff person, such as a hygienist.  They will be completely lost and you will need to depend on your experienced staff to input the data.

The other challenge is making the transition.  My recommendation would be to transition the patients as they come in and all new patients.  Be sure to record in the existing patient chart that the clinical notes are continued in the computer and date it.  It is time-consuming to transfer the hard copy information from the patient’s chart to digital.  All the existing radiographs have to be scanned, as well as any written information that you want to have access to in the computer chart.  I would suggest a “checklist” to make sure that all the information is transferred completely and that each staff person is aware of what is to be transferred.

Do we use anything that is still paper?

There are a few  “paper” items that we continue to use.  The Routing Slip is the common bond for information about each patient and keeps the clinical and business staff on the same page.  We still print a treatment plan for the patient to review with the Financial Coordinator but we scan the signed copy into the patient’s computerized chart.

We also still print insurance claims that have attachments for those insurance companies that don’t accept electronic attachments yet. 

Dr. Stieffel made the commitment to make the transition.  We developed a “game plan”, asking for input from all the staff so everyone would feel they were a part of the change.  As we know, change is difficult and this change is no exception.  Over the course of six months, the majority of the active patient charts have been converted. 

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

Forward this article to a friend.

McKenzie Newsletter Information:
To unsubscribe:
To discontinue receiving the Sally McKenzie eManagment newsletter,
click on the link at the very bottom of this page for instant removal,
To report technical problems with this newsletter or to request technical help,
please send a descriptive email to: webmaster@mckenziemgmt.com
To request services, products or general inquires about The McKenzie Company activities
please send a descriptive email to: info@mckenziemgmt.com
If you would like to have any of your dental practice concerns answered personally by Sally McKenzie,
please send a descriptive email to her at: sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Copyrights 1980-Present The McKenzie Company - All Rights Reserved.