Is It Possible For The Typical Medical Office To Truly Go Paperless?
Thinking about going green and make the transition to a paper-free office? It's always the goal but never really that easy. There are always instances where the paperless dream and reality just don't mix.
To that end, we reached out to several industry leaders and software providers such as eVero Corporation and the experts who kindly contributed the quotes below to give us a glimpse into what is and what may not be feasible.
Faith Kubicki, Content Marketing Manager for IntelliChief, LLC
“Most businesses will always deal with some amount of traditional paperwork. However, medical practitioners can easily move to a paperless system for their purchasing department, their HR department, and even their patient records.
In the medical industry, the biggest issue is keeping confidential patient information secure. However, electronic document archives can actually bemore secure than leaving files on a desk or in a filing cabinet.
To that end, it’s absolutely crucial to find a solution that is HIPAA-compliant. It should:
- Allow you to customize user permissions for document access, ensuring that confidential information is only accessible to authorized employees.
- Allow you to redact sensitive data if and when a document needs to be shared.
- Provide a comprehensive audit trail noting who has viewed or edited a paper form (and when).
- Incorporate a variety of data encryption and document security technologies, including active user authentications and SSL technologies.
It’s usually easiest for a provider to import all of their existing paper records at the beginning of the process (rather than attempting to upload them in batches after their initial roll-out). This does mean sitting down and deciding what information they want to digitize – whether that’s purely the patient record side of things, or whether they want to digitize their back-office paperwork as well. It’s usually the most cost-effective approach to go paperless in as many areas as possible.
And lastly, one more way to make the transition easier: if possible, find a way to have incoming documents automatically added to your electronic archive. For instance, if a patient emails in a request, you can have a software program automatically import that email to your archive – which means less work for your admin team. The same goes for faxes, too – instead of having to continually monitor a fax machine for inbound paperwork, certain solutions can automatically capture documents as they arrive, create an electronic copy, and save it to your repository.”
Learn more about IntelliChief, LLC
Dr. Trent Douglas of Restore SD Plastic Surgery
“Our new practice has been open for just over a year and we dedicated ourselves to a paperless setup right from the start. All of our patient notes, pre-operative records, operative reports, laser, and injectable treatments are able to be captured purely electronically. Our EHR has a patient portal where patients can enter all of their medical history, medications, and past surgeries from home before their appointment. We use touch screens in each of the exam rooms to capture patient signatures for consent forms.
Although we try to be paperless as much as possible, occasionally a patient will need to sign a hard copy document or fill out their medical history on a paper intake form. We have redundant systems in place should we experience computer system failure and are prepared with paper versions of our computer based forms.
A great deal of time and effort is needed to invest in converting to a paperless system, but once done, it is a remarkably smooth and easy way to access records, keep data current, and access charts from all over the office.”
Learn more about Restore SD Plastic Surgery
Albert Ho, Author, Speaker, Consultant, of Healthcare Heroes
I’m a Project Manager at a hospital and one of my projects is called eReferral. A project to get physicians to use an electronic referral system.
I have owned and operated a CPAP clinic and worked in healthcare for over 2 decades.
1. Tips On Going Paperless
Select a large established electronic medical records system. Selecting a larger and more established vendor is usually safer than smaller independent vendors.
Hire staff that are technology proficient. Office staff need to be comfortable with systems that are often not user-friendly.
Look to provincial bodies for certified EMR system. In Ontario eHealth Ontario provides a list of approved EMR vendors.
2. Issues That Have Come Up
In Ontario a large EMR vendor went out of business, leaving many practices scrambling to replace this system.
Not enough technical support. When users need assistance after hours, it can be very difficult to troubleshoot over the phone if phone support is available.
Being able to input and output electronically to other systems. For example, in Ontario family physicians can view lab results online ConnectingOntario, but these results may or not be to be imported into the physicians local EMR.
3. What Can’t Be Paperless
A practice can be 100% paperless, it’s when communicating with other parties that some things need to be printed. Such as when giving prescriptions to patients.
Learn more about Healthcare Heroes
Christos Morris, CEO and Founder for eVero Corporation
“In light of how quickly technology advances, and how much time-saving potential there is in moving to an electronic system, it’s more than realistic to transition to a paperless office… it’s necessary. Patients want easy access to their medical records, test results, and prescriptions, and want ways to communicate with healthcare professionals through email, messaging, and etc.
Changing the current culture away from paper in your practice can be a challenge. Change can be hard for any team, and moving to a paperless system forces people to adapt to a different way of doing things. Set your employees up for success by giving them the proper support and training they’ll need to be self-reliant and productive in your new paperless office.
Almost every aspect can technically be paperless; you can scan in any paper documents – referrals, orders, identification and insurance cards, and more – right into the EHR. The only thing that can’t be paperless is customer service. You need to have an adequate support model in place to ensure the quality of the service and support to your customers.
When moving to an electronic medical record, there are a few key steps you should take to ensure that the entire team is successful. First, implement a well-thought-out project plan for the transition with clear objectives and milestones. Then, assign a Project Lead who will hold the team accountable for moving fully into the system. If no one is holding the team accountable, some processes may continue to be done outside of the system… and you’ll have to continue to look in multiple places to locate information.
The best way to eliminate paper is to change the philosophy of your entire practice to be committed to being paperless – from the top, all the way through your employees.”
Learn more about eVero Corporation