The following was posted by Bruce Stephenson on the IDF Dentrix forum (IDF) in response to a question as to how a struggling office could save money.
The easiest, most obvious, and cheapest thing I suggested he do was to move toward paperlessness. Bill Gates is right: put the information at you fingertips, where you and everyone in the office can use it! Stop paying expensive people to shuffle paper! Let computers do what they are very good at doing: the scut work of sorting, filing, retrieving and duplicating information. Let people do people-work – interacting with patients!
It is really easy to get started and I think it is pretty much software-independent. No one has to buy Dentrix (or eaglesoft or practiceworks or Softdent or mogo … or whatever) to “go paperless.” You just need to make up your mind to do it! Start by talking with other dentists who have already done it, preferable with the software you are currently using. The dentist cannot “lead from the rear” on this one! The dentist needs to start by putting all his/her progress notes in the computer, not in the paper chart.
You do not, repeat, do not throw away all your paper charts. This is a phased transition. The idea that you need to “scan in” all the information in your paper charts is crazy. There is no need. Most of that information you will not need anyway. There is absolutely no payback to scanning in old information! It just makes the process harder and more expensive. (Emphasis mine) You “run tandem” in the sense that you still carry around your old charts for a while and refer back to them when necessary. But you do not add to them. All new charting goes into the computer. Don’t have digital xrays yet? Fine, keep using your “plastic” system and store the films in the paper chart for right now. But the “charting” goes in the computer!
The real bottom line is that paper charts cost way too much money and waste way too much time. IMHO, the most financially rewarding thing “paper and plastic” dentist need to do is focus on paperlessness.
I agree completely with this.