There are four stages every dental office goes through as they progress from paper to paperless.
Paper: This is the condition of every dental practice BC – Before Computer – say 1969 or earlier. Everything is on paper or film including charts, ledgers, and appointment books. Hardly any US dental offices are at this stage today.
Hybrid: A great many offices are Hybrids. That is they have both digital (paperless) systems and paper systems. Usually they have all the stuff they need to go paperless but hang on to old paper systems like a child with a security blanket.
Digital: This is the magical point at which the office stops making paper and pulling charts. The complete patient record is now digital. This is a huge step and most offices think they are done, however there is one more step that makes all the difference.
Workflow: The biggest benefit to a dental office converting to paperless records is not the record, it is the profound change in the workflow of the practice that is possible once the office “goes paperless”. Digital workflow is the step that reduces costs and pays for the investment in technology.