Paperless Mistakes

by Larry Emmott on August 5, 2014

in Paperless

One of the common mistakes dentists make with electronic charting is that they only go part way. Sometimes we miss the obvious, it is the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” In this case the trees are the individual processes that can be used to create digital information. The forest is the paperless record. If all you see are trees then you might use an electronic chart for treatment planning but make progress notes on paper. You might install a digital radiograph system and not link it to other records. You might have a computer up front for finances and scheduling but don’t have computers in the back for charting.

The tendency is to concentrate on individual processes or technologies without integrating the process into the whole.

For example: The office may use a paper chart in the treatment room during diagnosis to mark future treatment. Then they take the paper chart to the computer and enter everything again. They will use the computer to create an estimate, insurance forms and schedule. Then they will go back to the paper chart to enter procedure notes, back to the computer to take a payment, back to paper for a prescription, back to the computer for the next appointment then back to paper to check the x-rays.

What the office ends up with is a mess. Everything is done at least twice, the paper chart is still needed no one is ever sure if something is on paper or in the computer. As a result the computer chart doesn’t save time and money it makes things worse.

Another mistake is to gather digital information, such as photographs, but store it in separate dental software that is not part of the patient’s digital record. To be most effective the digital information must be all part of the same record using either a fully integrated system or linking each system using computer bridges.

Time and again the dental office has everything in place to go paperless but they still make paper just because that is the way they have always done it. Overcoming the inertia of change is frequently the most difficult task of going paperless.

There is also an element of fear. Often it is the dentist but it may be the staff; one or the other is afraid of what they do not know, the future, so they hold on to what is known, the past.

For more help on creating a paperless record look here:

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