One very common question I receive from addictions, substance use and mental health treatment providers is how they can go COMPLETELY paperless within their organization. I would say a majority of providers understand that it’s not as simple as implementing an electronic health record and “poof” we’re there! Just like anything, there’s some proper planning and some questions to answer before moving towards that goal of going “paperless”.
What is your definition of going paperless?Yes, ideally, every paper and pencil form that clinicians fill out would be in electronic format right? Well, from my experience, most of the time going paperless doesn’t really mean fully paperless. Many agencies have other stakeholders that influence their workflow. For example, an agency that contracts with a state authority or private contract, might have a paper form requirement, thus you still have a paper trail.
So what most agencies mean when they talk about going paperless, is to have a way, to replace the paper filing cabinet with an electronic filing cabinet. Therefore, even if you can’t fully replace paper forms with electronic ones, because of an outside authority or influence, you can still find a way to electronically FILE those records, so that the client’s CHART is paperless.
Basic features your EHR should have when going paperless
There are other features to consider, however, I believe these are some of the core things you should look for when evaluating your workflow and readiness to “go green”.
Dylan Lambrecht, Account Specialist/Orion Healthcare Technology
If you are looking for an EHR system to go paperless, Orion Healthcare Technology can help! We offer an EHR cloud-based clinical and billing software suite called AccuCare which can integrate with your daily processes and procedures. This product offers features to customize your own forms, upload external files and capture electronic signatures. This secure, HIPAA ready software, can take the worry out of clinical documentation and record keeping. They offer multiple options for cloud-based storage which we would be happy to discuss with you in detail. If you don’t have the staff or the time to build the forms yourself, you can hire us to build the forms within your database. The option is yours!
As we continue moving forward into the digital age, new and more efficient technology is being integrated into workflows across a spectrum of industries. Using the latest technologies, companies can now convert all physical documentation, files and records into a digital format, allowing them to send, receive and share information with virtually anyone around the world. Among the many businesses that benefit from the adoption of paperless practices are those in the healthcare industry.
Nearly everyone in the healthcare industry is burdened by excessive documentation. Although administrative personnel are tasked with the responsibility of managing these documents, the constant need to print, file, find, copy, scan, send and edit paperwork can also limit their ability to meet their goals and provide the necessary support to facility staff and patients.
From hospitals and private practices to corporate offices and shared services, any healthcare facility that utilizes a recordkeeping system relying solely on physical documents understands that paperwork can be a burden. Thankfully, there is an easy way to eliminate this inconvenience and enhance your operations. By integrating an electronic health record system into your facility, you can transition to a digital platform that enables your staff to manage these documents in a secure, effective and cost-efficient manner. EHR software is a beneficial resource designed for behavioral clinics.
Benefits of Going Paperless
Many behavioral healthcare practices and administrative offices enjoy the benefits of utilizing an electronic healthcare records system. This digital resource can provide a plethora of advantages to all healthcare facilities. From saving time, space and expenditures to improving security while enhancing accessibility, there are plenty of benefits that paperless EHR management software can bring to your behavioral clinic.
1. A Paperless Process Saves More Than Time
Paperwork is time-consuming and can create significant inconveniences. However, streamlining workflow and improving employee productivity isn’t the only dramatic benefit resulting from going paperless at your practice. Reports show that the misfiling, miscommunicating and mishandling of information causes major problems for administrative staff and patients.
Errors in the physical paperwork process create massive impacts. Administrative mistakes amount to 86 percent of annual medical errors in the industry. Thirty percent of both medical tests and patient charts are routinely unable to be located. Up to 80 percent of errors that evolve into more prominent issues originate from documentation problems and miscommunication. With the administrative department playing such a critical role in your behavioral health practice, it’s important that you provide them with resources like EHR software that will minimize these debilitating issues.
2. Minimizing Physical Documentation Saves Space
Consider the unique filing and storage needs of your healthcare facility. If you’re a small private practice, you may have all records and relevant paperwork condensed into a series of filing cabinets or shelving. Your mid-sized clinic may see a higher frequency of patients, resulting in more paperwork that may need to be organized and stored in a separate records room. For large or corporate entities, your paperwork may be spread out between filing cabinets at administration desks, records rooms on each floor and even locations offsite.
Although there may be specific forms or documents that you are required to keep originals or copies of, you should consider whether your practice actually needs to devote significant physical space to house this important information. By transitioning the physical paperwork processes of your office, practice or network of facilities to an electronic system, you can ensure that all of your critical documents are conveniently stored in digital archives that will not take up physical space in your facilities.
3. It Allows You Amplify Accessibility
As a healthcare provider with a physical archive of paperwork, you may need to provide medical records to neighboring departments or external offices with short notice. Unfortunately, you may be unable to accommodate these requests due to understaffing, the lack of time available or the sheer abundance of records that you need to page through in order to access the correct file. Integrating an electronic patient records system into your office can enable all necessary parties to access this information quickly and even independently.
Not only is it important that those within your practice or organization can research and obtain critical records, converting your physical documentation into a paperless system greatly benefits your patients as well. All patients are legally permitted to access their healthcare information at will. Unfortunately, nearly half of all patients do not retrieve their healthcare records because obtaining the physical documents can be an inconvenient, lengthy and even costly process. Once acquired, it also forces patients to find secure storage for these sensitive documents.
There’s no reason why your office staff should have to spend hours digging through stacks of files to obtain healthcare records. Swift access to this information via EHR software allows you to quickly access patient records, enables your staff to process and archive documentation that can be accessed digitally and provides your patients with a simple and effective way to retrieve their personal medical records.
4. It Also Provides Stronger Security
When many people consider the concept of effectively securing medical records, they may fail to acknowledge every threat that puts the safety of their records in jeopardy. Filing cabinets and records rooms may require keys or approved access which limits the number of individuals who may obtain this information. While this is a responsible way to keep information secure from others, have you considered the other ways the integrity of these documents could be compromised?
Unfortunately, many uncontrollable factors could put these store spaces at risk. Fires, flooding and other natural disasters could render the security of these storage areas useless. Even transporting physical records from facility to facility via mail or private courier creates the risk of these items being lost, stolen or damaged in transit. These documents often contain confidential medical, financial and personal information — storing these records on a digital platform eliminates the possibility of them being damaged or destroyed by these unpredictable factors.
5. Going Paperless Cuts Expenditures and Saves Your Company Money
Whether you’re a small private practice or part of a large healthcare corporation, it’s safe to say that maintaining a responsible annual budget is one of your top business priorities. Finding line items to reduce or eliminate from the yearly expense report does not need to be difficult. You can enhance the workflow of your employees while taking proactive steps to decrease unnecessary expenditures by integrating an EHR system into your office.
Converting your physical paperwork to an electronic patient records system means more than just simplification — it also means cost-cutting. If the average office employee uses up to 10,000 sheets of paper per year, imagine how many reams of copy paper are required to accomplish the responsibilities of just the administrative departments of your company. Why devote valuable portions of your budget year after year to an antiquated system of document processing and filing when there’s a modern solution available that also saves you money?
6. It’s an Eco-Friendly Solution
How environmentally sustainable is your business? Regardless of industry, all businesses have an impact on the environment, which in turn, has an impact on every one of us. Whether your company focuses on environmentalism in your operational ethics or you want to cut down on the excessive use of finite resources, going paperless in your behavioral healthcare facility directly improves your sustainability. Instead of managing recycling processes, you can minimize your company’s environmental impact upfront with EHR systems.
How to Implement a Paperless System
Implementing a paperless system in your behavioral health practice can save time, money, space and hassle. Although this will help your administrative department boost efficiency and simplify their workflows, it will only be an effective resource if this transition is implemented successfully. Many employees may fear the learning curve that operational changes bring. By sufficiently planning out this transition and implementing changes responsibly, you ensure that the process is completed correctly and help your employees smoothly transition to a paperless EHR system.
Orion Healthcare Technologies understands that transitioning from a document-driven office to a paperless clinic may seem like a daunting task. Although it does involve responsible planning and organized execution, you can follow our step-by-step process to make your implementation a success. We’ve compiled the following tips for implementing a paperless system into your behavioral clinic.
Step 1: Evaluate the Practicality of Integrating a Paperless Process in Your Facility
The first step to successfully bringing an idea to fruition is to determine how it needs to be accomplished. As you discover that it is indeed possible to convert your facility’s physical paperwork process to a paperless system, you must begin by planning out the process from start to finish. To help you thoroughly plan for these changes, consider the following questions:
Because these records are confidential, it’s critical that you decide how these documents will be handled from transition until destruction.
Step 2: Set Goals and Deadlines
Remember that this process does not need to be completed all at once. For many practices, transitioning to a paperless EHR system can be a time-consuming endeavor that requires careful attention to ensure all records are updated correctly. As you finish planning out this process, separate the entire project into manageable phases with measurable goals and targeted deadlines. A gradual and procedure-driven schedule will enable you to make noticeable progress, stick to the timeframe and steadily guide your practice through the process.
Step 3: Decide What Office Equipment You’ll Need to Make the Transition
Although you have decided the date you’ll begin creating, updating and storing digital files on the EHR software, you’ll also need to determine how you will convert all of your physical records and documents into digital files. To accomplish this task in an organized and accurate manner, you’ll need equipment that is designed to efficiently scan, sort and send your records quickly and without error. A valuable tool in this process would be a specialty scanner.
How do you determine your facility’s scanning needs? First, identify which members of your staff will need to utilize this resource at a given time. If multiple administrative assistants will be scanning documents while performing their other daily tasks, one or two general-purpose scanners may be adequate. If a single employee will be handling scanning responsibilities, a high-speed scanner featuring an automatic document feeder would be most useful. For teams of individuals tasked with this project, you may want to invest in individual scanners for each workstation.
There are plenty of specialty scanners that were designed to efficiently help you maintain a paperless work environment. For instance, the Fujitsu suite of production scanners is equipped to serve environments that require high throughput, reliability and versatility. They’ll allow you to scan as many as 130 document pages per minute. Many of their models have an automatic document feeder capacity of up to 500 sheets. High-performance scanners will enable your staff to scan thousands of medical records per day which will accelerate your paperless process.
Step 4: Get Your Team On-Board With the Transition
For the paperless transition to truly be effective, it must be positively adopted by your staff. Some of your employees may seem resistant, fearful or overwhelmed at the thought of having to not only help with the transition but also to continue functioning in their role with an EHR software that they are unfamiliar with. This aversion to change should be expected, and there are many ways in which you can comfortably get your employees on-board with the paperless system.
First, assure them that this technology is meant to replace the process, not the people. Highlight the ways in which errors can readily occur using physical documents and described the solutions the EHR software presents. More importantly, explain to them that this adjustment in the workflow will ultimately provide patients with better service.
Your goal is to serve the patients of your practice to the best of your abilities. Implementing a paperless system by transitioning to an electronic health record system is an efficient way to streamline your record keeping and allow you to provide better and more accurate service to your clients. This process can be implemented responsibly through detailed planning, sticking to a goal schedule, utilizing high-performance equipment and gradually acquainting your staff to this new workflow. Once completed, you’ll be ready to rely on Orion’s exceptional EHR software.
Orion’s Paperless EHR and Billing Applications
Electronic health record systems are excellent resources that eliminate the need for processing, storing and updating traditional patient paperwork. This tool automates basic functions by tracking and compiling patient data for streamlined reporting. Orion Healthcare Technology is proud to provide your behavioral healthcare practice with our exceptionally efficient electronic health record and billing application software, the AccuCare EHR system. Our software has enabled clinicians across the country to integrate a paperless process into their facility. AccuCare is perfect for behavioral clinics providing healthcare services including:
Our EHR software features a multi-dimensional assessment that can be customized for ASAM or other criteria to guide your staff through the admission and assessment process to determine client eligibility. From admission to recovery and follow-up support, your staff can easily access, track and update patient records. Orion’s other beneficial AccuCare features include:
Our AccuCare web-based EHR software is one of the only ASAM decision support software available, making it an ideal resource for behavioral health clinics of any size. Orion’s scheduler allows clinicians to track and update both staff and patient schedules and add client notes regarding billing and payment receipts. Our census feature displays all forms of care and treatment your facility is providing on a single, easy-to-read screen. With the ability to limit access control between users, AccuCare provides simplified functionality for all staff, agencies and departments.
Going Paperless in Healthcare With Orion EHR Software
Consider just how many separate forms and documents are filed in your patient records. At any time, your staff may need to retrieve these sensitive documents and provide them to patients, insurance companies or other agencies. Small document storage spaces can become cluttered and disorganized while large offsite storage centers are inconvenient to access at a moment’s notice. Your practice needs an organized and streamlined record keeping system that is accessible, reliable and versatile enough to provide detailed data reports. Your clinic needs paperless EHR software.
Paperwork is a burden your behavioral clinic does not need. Transitioning to electronic health records and implementing the necessary changes to becoming a paperless practice is a strategy that will streamline your administrative operations. Orion’s AccuCare EHR software is the perfect resource for behavioral health centers that require a secure record keeping system that is accessible, ASAM compatible and can generate customized data reports. With our versatile electronic health record and billing applications, your practice has access to an abundance of features on a web-based platform.
Make cumbersome paperwork processes a thing of the past with AccuCare EHR software available from Orion Healthcare Technology. Contact us today and discover how AccuCare’s customizable features are perfect for all behavioral health fields.