Reasons to go paperless

Will Kinsman
May 1, 2021
We know that paper is becoming a tool of yesteryear for the storing of medical information. We have compiled a list showing how converting to electronic forms can benefit your practice and the community. According to our own surveys with over 100 practitioner participants, the majority of patients are proactively interested in doing so!
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Modern paperless systems offer more methods for form completion – QR codes, static links from websites, SMS, email, or tablets, in addition to accommodating paper forms if a clinic still must do so.

Lower carbon footprint:

It is estimated that healthcare activities contribute 8% to the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and 7% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the United States [1]. A Kaiser Permanente study extrapolated on the introduction of electronic medical filing and found that if adopted across the US, it would reduce US emissions of carbon dioxide by 1.7 million metric tons annually [2].

Easier record keeping:

Paper records may be lost, misplaced, or damaged easily. Alternatively, digital paperless systems create several copies of your data in a HIPAA compliant space so that if any one system were to fail, there will still be data backups for recover (this is referred to as RAID 5 data storage).

Easier completion, higher data quality:

Digital forms offer autocomplete, drop-downs, pictures, field data validation, as well as digital signatures. On digital forms, you can also set fields as required for patients to make sure they are completed – something not possible on a paper form. This means better consistency and completion of your data.

Decreased no-shows:

While there is little research literature today, evidence strongly suggests that a patient who completes their forms ahead of an appointment is significantly more likely to attend that appointment. SMS message research alone has boosted this by 10% (depending on the specialty of the clinic) [3].

EMR integration:

Modern digital solutions also enable integration directly into an electronic medical record system. Rather than manually copying this information in or transferring PDF’s, many systems accommodate the ability to directly add this information digitally.

[1] Chung JW, Meltzer DO. Estimate of the carbon footprint of the US health care sector. JAMA. 2009;302(18): 1970–2

[2] Turley, Marianne, et al. "Use of electronic health records can improve the health care industry’s environmental footprint." Health affairs 30.5 (2011): 938-946.

[3] Boksmati, Nasim, et al. "The effectiveness of SMS reminders on appointment attendance: a meta-analysis." Journal of medical systems 40.4 (2016): 90.

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