I remember several years ago I was on my way to work with a new office and start them down their path to paperless. When I walked in, the two ladies at the front desk were laughing hysterically and I felt I had walked in just a little late to the party. They were laughing because the doctor had removed all the garbage cans from the office because he felt like, after that day, they would not have any more paper in the office so they wouldn’t need them. Of course, I think he was joking a little and they quickly realized that the office would still have a lot of paper to sort through.
Many offices I work with have a basket labeled “TO BE SCANNED” and it is usually filled to the brim with papers awaiting to be scanned into the computer. No one in the office wants to touch it because it is one of those tedious tasks that no one wants to do … so it just grows and grows. I know how you feel and many practices I work with say that scanning is one of the biggest pain points they deal with every day.
Let’s look at how we could cut that pile of paper in half … but first let’s look at what’s in that pile and how we can deal with it in the electronic world. Some examples of what ends up in that pile of “TO BE SCANNED” paper are . . .
- Letters from specialists
- Treatment plan estimates
- Insurance EOBs and pre-estimates
- New patient forms
- Health history updates
- Consent forms
- Letters to/from patients
The paper that comes in from the outside world via the USPS is already in paper form and there is not much we can do with it other than scan it. What I would recommend is reaching out to the people who are sending you paper and see if you can receive electronic correspondence or (even better) see if they can send the letter as an attachment to an email. NOTE: Make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant email service when you are sending protected patient information.
There are three in-house ways you can eliminate the scanning without adding any additional cost or third-party service.
- “Send to the Dentrix Document Center” is the easiest, most efficient way to get a document into the Document Center without scanning. This can be used for anything you receive in an email, off a website (insurance breakdowns, EOBs, etc.) or as an attachment. You can also send all your treatment plan estimates to the Document Center using this feature and then have the patient sign in the Document Center using an electronic signature device
- Use the Consent Forms feature for treatment plan estimates and consent for treatment forms. In the treatment plan panel on the patient chart or the treatment plan module, there is a way you can create a consent form and have the patient sign with a signature pad. A copy of this consent automatically is then sent to the Document Center.
- Start using the Dentrix Questionnaire module for all in-house forms, including health history updates, all treatment consent forms, financial arrangement forms and updates to your HIPAA acknowledgement. You can use the Questionnaire Module without adding any expense for electronic services. All you will need is a signature pad. You can print out your consent forms and have them laminated so the patient can read them in a paper form. After that, have the patient sign in the Questionnaire or just pull the form up on your monitor for him or her to read. It is so easy.
Give your team a break, give your scanner a break and save time. Use this time to do more productive things like fill your schedule and improve your collections.