In recent years, many businesses – including veterinary practices – have transitioned to paperless systems. The prospect of switching from a paper filing system to a digital one can be daunting, but the potential benefits are undeniable. Adopting a paperless workflow at your veterinary practice can save you time and money, improve efficiency, and help you provide better care to your patients.
7 Benefits of Going Paperless
1. Improved Organization
Paperless systems allow for easier access to the information you need and better organization.
With paperless records, you can access your patient records anywhere at any time. Rather than sifting through thousands of pages of documents (which take up valuable space in your office), you can quickly and easily locate the information you need.
2. Increased Efficiency
Electronic record systems allow your employees to spend their time and energy on what matters most – caring for your animal patients. Staff can spend less time tracking down information and transcribing handwritten notes. Veterinary office software can also automate previously manual processes and tasks like appointment reminders, prescription refill alerts, and billing for treatments administered.
3. Better Accuracy
When relying on paper files, a mistake or overlooked detail can result in billing errors or worse – incorrect patient notes. Legibility problems with handwritten notes increase the probability of misinterpretation or incorrect documentation. Electronic records allow for clean, accurate record keeping and smoother communication. A digital system also makes it easier to keep patient records and information accurate and up to date.
4. Increased Security
As in any medical office, the security of your clients’ data is paramount. Advanced encryption and cybersecurity practices can be built into your digital records system to keep your patients’ information safe. For increased security, you can set up permission-based access to privileged information such as financial and payment information or define which staff members can make changes to patient records.
Digital systems also promote accountability, as many software options keep a log of edits, including when they were made and by whom.
5. Backups and Disaster Recovery
Paper records can become lost, damaged, or destroyed. Having digital records keeps your information safe in the event of disaster like a fire or a flood. Digital backup systems allow you to recover your data even in the event of a software failure or accidental deletion.
6. Cost Savings
Going paperless can result in major overhead cost savings for your clinic. You’ll save on office supplies and printing costs, of course. But there are other ways a veterinary office software can save you from hidden costs like inefficiencies, wasted time, and overlooked billing errors.
7. Environmentally Friendly
Of course, going paperless is better for the environment than keeping mountains of paper records. A paperless system reduces paper waste and ecological impact. This is especially important for potential clients who value socially responsible business practices.
The awkward transition period – The transition to a paperless environment can be challenging. There may be a short time when your office is reliant upon both paper and electronic records until everything has been converted. Make a concrete plan to complete the transition. Maybe you’ll designate a specific person to spend a certain amount of time scanning paper files every day. Offer training and make sure everyone on your team knows how to contact customer support if they run into a problem. During this time, you can expect some hiccups. Keep your messaging positive, and treat this change as a team effort that you are all navigating together.
Tech savvy – For many employees, new technology can be intimidating. Your staff may protest that they aren’t comfortable with computers and will struggle to learn a new software program. This is a common fear. You can assure your employees that training is available and they will have the support they need along the way. And, remind them that ultimately the new paperless system will simplify their workflow, reduce frustrating mistakes, and make their jobs easier in the long run.
Portability – If your veterinary staff want the ability to carry patient records from room to room, consider investing in a set of tablets where you can easily access records from anywhere in your clinic.
If you’re ready to go paperless but are unsure where to start, here are some next steps to consider:
- First, take inventory of your internal processes and define the needs of your practice. Research different software options so you can choose the best system for your clinic. New software options are being introduced all the time, and it may take some time to find one that fits your needs without bogging down your staff with cumbersome features.
- Communicate with your staff and seek feedback about the upcoming changes to the workflow in your office. This will not only help you to avoid potential pitfalls, but will also make your staff feel included in the decision-making process and therefore more likely to get on board. While change may be met with some resistance at first, you can mitigate this by involving them in the process.
- Before the new system goes live, take the opportunity to update your patient records.
- Train your staff on the new system and give them a chance to get familiar with it, and ask questions before the transition is complete.
- Plan your transition. You may want to start by entering new patient information into the electronic system, and gradually add your existing clients over time. Switching from paper to paperless record-keeping doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be done in a reasonable amount of time if you have a plan. You don’t want to overwhelm your staff – the whole purpose of going paperless is to help make their work easier – but it’s important to set milestones and deadlines so that the process doesn’t drag on forever.