Many practices think they are paperless, when in actuality they are paper chartless. They are often still mailing out paper bills, and having patients fill out paper new client forms and sign paper consent forms. It is important to know that “going paperless” means that all forms, including new patient, patient history, HIPAA, financial arrangements, and consent forms, become electronic.
By now, many practices have adopted large practice management systems such as Practice Works, Eaglesoft, and Dentrix, or smaller systems by MOGO, Daisy, or DentiMax. All are capable of incorporating paperless technology, often in conjunction with popular third party software by companies like Smile Reminder or Florida Probe.
New patients filling out forms online at home about their medical history and treatment interests will be less rushed and less intimidated. This opens up marketing opportunities for dental offices able to more fully determine the oral health needs and wants of their patients.
In particular, one dentist, Dr. Phillips, notes that online forms offer the patient greater privacy when it comes to questions about financing:
“Now, let’s stop here and think about this for a moment. If I am a patient and I am sitting in the privacy of my house, and I am asked about financing, I am not being “sold,” and, as a result, I am not put on the defensive. If I am denied financing, I am not embarrassed in front of other people in the dental office.”
Making sure the patient experience is as seamless and comfortable as possible ensures that awkward and negative problems can be avoided. Dr. Phillips uses CareCredit for financing questions, and finds it helpful:
“OK, so my “What If” patient says yes to patient financing. Now this is great! The patient’s demographic information is transformed to an online CareCredit® application – all the patient has to do is fill in his or her monthly income and expenses. Now the patient clicks “submit” and he or she has instant approval and a credit line to use in your dental office. How exciting is that?”
Regardless of the patient financial need, electronic forms completed and submitted in advance allow office staff to be more prepared ahead of time when the patient walks through the door for their appointment.
- Practices calling themselves paperless may in actuality just be chartless if they are still having patients fill out paper history forms and hand sign consent forms.
- Online forms filled out in advance afford patients greater privacy and potentially increase marketing opportunities for dental practices.
Phillips, Laci (2007) Are you chartless or paperless? Dental Economics