Stop Making Paper

officepaperwork600Once the system to create a digital patient record is in place, you simply stop making paper. Everything new is electronic; everything from the past is paper.

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.

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