No more Paper Charts? What’s in it for me?

The most common thing I still see in many hundreds of practices across the United States that could increase revenue significantly that is not being done is the dentist still writing clinical notes in a paper chart. Unfortunately that is the number one reason that dentists hesitate to go chartless. Many do not feel computer savvy enough to add the minimal lines necessary to personalize a template per patient per procedure, others do not fully trust the external back up to retain all of the information in case of a crash, a breach, or any other unforeseen calamity. Whatever the reason is – I hope to change your perspective.

Every time you do a certain procedure, you follow the same routine – # carps ___; excavate decay; …. Why would you want to write this out ad nauseam and ad infinitum? All you really need to add to the same note is the individualization of what took place on a particular patient. You don’t even have to be the one to enter it into the computer! You have staff – borrow an idea from your colleagues who work in the medical field and record your notes for later transcription into a handheld recorder by a team member or invest in a voice recognition system to “type” your notes for you.

Why, you say – what’s in it for me? Do you know how much time you spend writing your notes? It’s measureable – go ahead and keep a log of the amount of time you are spending. I believe that you will be surprised. You may find that if you dictated your notes verbally, had your assistant enter them, or even typed them yourself into a template, you might have enough time each day to see another patient. What would that mean to the revenue of your practice? Let’s go with a very low fee – after all, we want to deliver quality service and best practices to each of our patients, right? So let’s just add $200 per day. Over the course of a five day work week, that’s $1000. Over the course of a 48 week work year (vacations, holidays, continuing education time off), that’s an additional $48,000. What if you chose not to do a $200 procedure, but a $400 or $600 procedure? Or if money is not the motivating factor, would you like to leave an hour early, spend more time living, less working?

The time not only you save, but the time your staff saves in not needing to pull and reshelve charts is also measurable. Without paper charts there are no more “missing charts” that can take hours to find.  I encourage you to time that activity, as well. Think what income producing activity they might be performing instead. Do you have concerns about the environment and sustainability of our planet? Think about how about how much you spend in paper, ink, etc funding this vital part of your practice?

Your bottom line is impacted every day you continue to write clinical notes by hand – please consider the rewards of moving to a paperless/chartless practice.


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