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How to Become a Paperless Dental Office?

by | May 30, 2023 | Paperless Dental Office

How to Become a Paperless Dental Office

Dental offices must go paperless to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and stay up-to-date with the latest compliance needs. Additionally, a paperless office helps minimize patient wait times and allows you to deliver a better patient experience. 

According to Wendy Aldhamen of Forever Green Consulting, dental practices can save up to $10,000 annually by going paperless.

By transitioning to a paperless office, you can streamline your workflow by collecting patient information, scheduling appointments, and tracking payments. 

In addition, a paperless office facilitates greater collaboration among staff members. It ensures all authorized staff in the dental office are up-to-date on a patient’s history, medications, and treatment needs.

This article will discuss ways to become paperless in a dental office. In addition, it will cover the benefits and tips for becoming a paperless dental office.

What is a Paperless Dental Office?

A paperless dental office is a dental practice that utilizes digital tools and technology to minimize the need for physical paperwork and records. 

The transition to a paperless office can be made using digital dental forms, Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and Practice Management Systems (PMS)

Digital documentation and recordkeeping will help reduce costs and increase the security of Protected Health Information (PHI).

A paperless dental office will also provide smoother workflows and save time and money while minimizing filing and storage needs. In addition, you can easily collect, access, track, and update records when needed.

The Benefits of Utilizing Paperless Dental Forms

Dental practices can reap a range of benefits by using paperless dental forms. They help streamline processes, reduce costs, and increase the efficiency of their operations.

Some of the key benefits of utilizing paperless dental forms are:

  • Improved Accuracy: By digitizing dental patient forms, dental practices can ensure data accuracy and reduce processing time. It reduces manual entry errors and prevents information from being lost or mishandled.
  • Reduced Costs: Going paperless saves printing costs and eliminates storage needs for physical documents, and saves labor costs by removing the need to scan and shred patient forms by hand.
  • Increased Efficiency: Paperless dental forms allow dental care providers to quickly access patient files without searching through piles of paperwork. Your staff can respond faster to requests and ensure efficient workflows.
  • Enhanced Patient Experience: Patients can quickly fill out digital forms conveniently, often ahead of time, for a better patient experience. In addition, more accuracy and timely access to data ensure better and more effective treatment.
  • Better Security: Paper-free dental practices can ensure secure storage of sensitive patient data and avoid loss of data due to physical reasons like natural disasters or theft. Digital patient records are encrypted for added security, and access to patient documents is restricted to authorized personnel only.

How to Establish a Paperless Dental Office?

Dental offices embrace technology to eliminate the use of paper. It helps reduce the environmental impact of your dental practice while making the processes more efficient. 

Furthermore, technology can help streamline communication between staff members and patients.

Digital dental forms, electronic records, and e-signatures can help streamline the working of your dental practice. It also helps reduce the time required to complete administrative tasks related to managing patient records and other paperwork.

Here are some ways to become paperless in a dental office:

  • Management Buy-in

The most important aspect of transforming into a paperless dental office is having the support of all staff members, especially management. It eases the transition and helps sustain a paperless workflow. 

You must bring everyone on the same page by discussing the pros and cons. Jana Berghoff, Technology Marketing Manager at Patterson Dental (Eaglesoft), says, 

“The biggest advantage is that it’s easier to communicate about patients. In the past, there was a separation and lack of information sharing between the front desk and the clinical group. But with a digital patient record, what the clinical staff knows is right there for the front desk to use anytime the patient calls, without having to go pull that patient’s paper chart. Now we truly can better serve our patients because their information is right there on the monitor.” 

Discussing such advantages will give all stakeholders a clear view of the future.

A convincing example is that of a solo dental practitioner Dr. Dykstra from Western Michigan. He has incorporated digital systems to transform his dental office into an entirely paperless practice and has successfully lowered the overhead costs of his dental practice by 50%.

Management must prepare for the dental practice’s infrastructure and IT framework changes. You should provide staff with the necessary tools and resources to ensure a successful transition, such as new computers or digital recordkeeping systems.

Also, management should provide training and support for those unfamiliar with paperless practices. 

Finally, management should create incentives that reward staff members for properly transitioning to a paperless office and utilizing technology. Committed leadership will help the entire team transform into a more efficient paperless dental office.

  • Create a Transition Plan

Creating a transition plan to take your dental clinic from conventional to paperless is essential. 

First, you must identify all changes needed in your current processes and tools. 

Jordan Sparks, CEO of Open Dental, says, “Don’t try to do it all at once. Going paperless involves dozens of little steps that move you toward a more paperless office. The staff needs to learn each technology before moving on to the next one.”

You must, therefore, lay out a transition plan for your practice to make the process seamless. Andre Montgomery, Vice President of XLDent, says, “Prepare your team, plan your strategy, and be patient. Preparation and good planning are the keys to success.”

Start with an assessment of the current dental office system and list the requirements to achieve your goals for the transition. You should also outline the implementation phases with timelines and allocate a budget.

Once you have identified the changes needed in your dental office, you can start implementing them one by one. 

Begin by introducing electronic records and appointment scheduling. You should also invest in secure servers and software to protect sensitive patient data.

  • Provide Adequate Staff Training

A successful transition to digital paperless operations starts with adequate staff training. Every employee in your organization must understand how to use the new equipment and software. 

In addition, it will ensure that any operational changes are implemented correctly and efficiently.

Conduct an orientation session on the new system or software for all staff members. In addition, arrange regular meetings between managers and staff to review progress and address any issues or concerns. 

Finally, set goals for each team member throughout the transition period so management and staff can track progress toward successfully implementing the new technology. 

Andre Montgomery, Vice President at XLDent, shares his two cents, “Follow-up training is also the key to success. Remember that old habits die hard, and it’s not just about learning how to use the software. Going paperless is about getting rid of paper-centric mentalities and implementing point-of-care solutions. Scheduling on-site follow-up training 45-60 days after the initial installation is a good idea. Yearly refreshers to have your paperless workflows assessed and get up to speed on new software enhancements is an even better idea.”

  • Update Your Website

Your dental practice website is the best place to share information about the transition to help your prospects and patients. 

Update your website with tools, information, knowledge resources, and instructions about the new digital paperless environment. 

You can add links for accessing new patient forms or a call to action button that is easy to find on your website.

Provide tutorials and step-by-step instructions on how to use technology to interact with your dental office.

By taking these steps, you can effectively showcase your dental office’s digital and paperless aspects and build trust with potential patients. 

  • Inform the Patients

One of the prime reasons you must go paperless is to deliver more to your patients. 

Andre Montgomery, Vice President at XLDent, mentions, It enhances the patient’s experience through perception, convenience, and flexibility. When patients see that their dentist is using digital X-rays, it gives the impression that the office is current with technology and concerned about providing the best in health care. When the doctor and staff engage patients by showing areas of concern and including them in the treatment planning process using point-of-care technologies, they perceive the need for proposed treatment and the value in the patient/doctor relationship. Paperless enhances the patient experience by offering flexibility in completing registration and health histories online from home or the office. Paperless offers convenience with email and text appointment reminders. These are all things that make coming to the dental office easy and convenient. That equates to better patient experiences.”

Explaining the advantages of a paperless office is essential to build customer trust. Communicate with your patient via email and text messages to describe the benefits of digital form filling, online appointment scheduling, and digital record keeping.

Guide patients on using the new paperless system and tell them how a paperless dental office will support faster processes, secure data protection, and easier access to their dental records. 

Remind them that with a paperless system, they can save time by filling out patient intake forms and completing them at their convenience. Nurture them through the transition to build trust that patient data is securely stored. 

You may also include information about other benefits associated with going paperless, such as helping conserve natural resources through less printing and eliminating the need for physical files in the office.

  • Ensure Proper Recordkeeping

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date patient records is vital to running a successful dental practice. Therefore, it is essential to have a system that allows you to manage patient records easily, store information securely, and adhere to HIPAA regulations

Invest in the right technology to reduce human error and quickly access patient data when needed. For example, Electronic Health Record (EHR) software will allow you to streamline recordkeeping processes while providing a better patient experience. 

A Study by Clinical Medicine & Research (CM&R) shows 45% of dentists using EDR are delivering better patient care.

Allen S. Jorgensen, Co-founder of Lighthouse 360, quotes an example, “Dr. Bridgett Jorgensen’s office – North Gwinnett Dental Care – became 100 percent “chartless” when her husband Allen Jorgensen became the full-time front desk staff and “Czar of Lazy.”

  • Choose the Right Technology

Investing in reliable systems that are easy to use and can be customized to meet the needs of your patients is essential. 

In addition, you must consider patient experience, data security, integration capabilities, and scalability.

Patient experience should always be at the forefront when selecting a digital solution for your dental office. Choose solutions that will make it easier for patients to book appointments, access their medical records and communicate with providers without using paper. 

Additionally, you must opt for convenient digital dental forms and comprehensive reporting tools to reduce patient wait times while improving treatment outcomes.

  • Ensure Compliance

All dental practices must ensure compliance with HIPAA security rules, Electronic Health Records (EHR) retention requirements, and data sharing standards. 

Therefore, opting for a paperless system in your dental office requires careful consideration to ensure compliance with applicable regulations.

Before implementing a paperless system, ensure it protects Protected Health Information (PHI) and sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with the vendors. To remain compliant, you must also understand the legal obligations of using a paperless system.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning to a paperless dental office benefits your practice and patients. Opting for the right platform compliant with dentistry regulations, you can experience improved efficiency, cost savings, and patient satisfaction. 

Dental software can help you maximize the potential of your paperless dental office. It can help you increase patient engagement while streamlining operations and reducing wait times.

Yapi is feature-rich dental software perfect for transitioning to the paperless model. It offers an all-in-one dental appointment scheduling and patient communication that helps you become more efficient and increase profitability. 

  • Yapi has a cloud-based web application that allows you to access your data from anywhere at any time.
  • Update patient records, send appointment reminders, and safely maintain patient information.
  • Yapi is HIPAA compliant and keeps patient information secure. 
  • In addition, Yapi integrates with popular dental practice management systems/software, allowing you to transfer data and save time easily.

Yapi offers several features designed to help you automate tedious tasks, such as invitations to complete new patient forms via text or email.  

Try out Yapi to start your journey to becoming a paperless dental office.