Which one are you … “chartless” or “paperless?” It is interesting when I talk with dental practices how they use these two terms interchangeably. Most people don’t see a difference. But put yourself in the patient’s shoes and there is a huge difference. If your office sends the patient paper forms to fill out before their appointment, sends the patient a PDF attachment of your new patient forms, or if you send your patients to your website where they have to download a PDF form, your office is ”chartless” not “paperless.”
Put yourself in your patients’ shoes and think about how much more convenient it would be if they could click on a link, fill out your forms, and be done with it. Wouldn’t it be even more convenient if the office team could direct an elderly patient’s caregiver or family member to assist in the paperwork? Implementing this type of technology creates a paperless environment and is simple and cost-effective.
When you are ready to go “paperless” and implement electronic forms, there are three things that often get overlooked.
- Give your patients options for filling out the forms. My number one option is directing the patient or caregiver to your website. This not only drives traffic to your website so they can see all your services, meet your team, and get directions, but they can fill out the forms from the comfort of their home or work computer. However, there will be circumstances where the patient does not have access to a computer or they forget, so make sure to have plan B available. Plan B is not “give the patient the forms on paper and scan them in.” This is not acceptable. Set up a consult room, check-in station or have a tablet available for the patient to fill out your electronic forms. If the patient does not know how to use a computer, it does not take that long to interview them and fill in the form for them.
- Layout your treatment rooms in a way so you have at least one monitor that the patient can view and can be pulled within reading view. Having a monitor within reading distance allows your clinical team to easily review the forms with the patient. Also, this allows you to have your patient read over your consent forms as well.
- Don’t forget the electronic signature devices. Since there is no paper, you will need to capture the signature via a signature device, similar to making purchases at a store on a credit card machine. My recommendation is start small with one signature device for every four treatment rooms and one or two at the front desk. Most signature devices are USB so they can be easily moved from room to room similar to a sensor.
Whenever you are implementing a new technology like electronic forms where the patient will be doing the work, make sure your team does a practice run so they can understand the patient experience. The technology needs to be user-friendly. If any of your team members have trouble with the technology, more than likely your patients will too.
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at www.novonee.com and contact Dayna at firstname.lastname@example.org.