The push for paperless is an emerging trend in the modern economy. As of the time of writing, approximately 17% of all companies are already paperless. Given the many benefits of ditching paper, it’s likely that more companies will join soon.
But how has this trend impacted the healthcare industry? Will it go paperless soon too? Or is the future of paperless healthcare already here?
Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and for more information about the future of paperless healthcare.
Why the healthcare industry is going paperless
The healthcare industry is trending towards paperless because the long-term benefits of making the switch outweigh the costs and inconvenience of doing so. Here are some of the benefits that healthcare companies enjoy when they move away from paper.
Improved access to patient records
Paper-based patient records are tougher to organize, access, update and maintain than digital ones. That means employees have to spend longer working on accessing patient records when they’re paper-based.
This creates a competitive disadvantage for healthcare companies that don’t go digital. These businesses will have to spend more of their limited resources on ensuring that patients’ records are accessible than businesses that go digital.
Healthcare companies that ditch the paper can also expect to enjoy lower costs. There are a few reasons why that’s true.
First, as discussed in the last point, paper documents require more employee hours to organize, access and maintain than digital ones. Each of those extra hours costs your clinic or hospital money.
Additionally, paper documents take up space, whereas digital ones don’t. That may force you to rent a bigger space than you truly need.
Finally, producing paper documents is costly. It requires you to buy printers, copiers, ink and other products that you wouldn’t need if you were digital.
Humans will always make some errors simply by virtue of being human. But you can significantly reduce the errors in your documents by embracing digital processes instead of paper-based ones.
Digital processes tend to have built-in checks and balances to catch and resolve human error before it can impact your business.
Paperless healthcare organizations are also generally more efficient than ones that still utilize paper. That’s because it’s much easier to search through digital documents and find the right ones than it is to look through paper ones.
Think about all of the files that your staff accesses throughout the course of a normal day. Each of the following could be easier for you to work with if you go paperless:
- Patient records
- Human resource files
- Medical billing documents
- Medical images, like X-rays and EKGs
Support the environment
Another great reason to go paperless is that you’ll support the environment by doing so.
When one tree is cut down to produce 17 reams of paper, it releases about 110 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. It also takes away a tree that otherwise would’ve been taking harmful carbon out of the air.
When companies stop purchasing paper, they reduce the number of trees that need to be cut down to produce it. The more businesses that make this decision, the bigger the impact it will have on the environment.
What going paperless looks like
The switch to paperless will impact both your team and your patients. We’ll take a look at how it will impact each of these groups in this section.
For your team
Once you ditch the paper in your office, your team will likely become much more efficient.
That’s because they won’t have to worry about printing documents, scanning them, copying them or trying to locate paper records anymore.
Instead, an employee will be able to interact with the documents they need entirely on their computer or another device. They will also be able to share those documents with others without having to locate any physical copies to do so.
It could take your team some time to adjust to your new paperless systems, but once they do, you’re likely to notice a significant uptick in their productivity.
For your patients
Your patients will also benefit when you go paperless. That’s true for a few reasons.
First, it should be easier and less time-consuming for patients to use your healthcare company since your employees will be able to conduct their work more efficiently.
Additionally, when you make your healthcare facility paperless, it can be a lot easier for patients to get the information that they need while visiting you.
For example, you can use digital signage to convey important messages to patients instead of making them look for the right documents.
You can even allow patients to check themselves in with digital signage kiosks. This can free up congestion in your practice and lead to a smoother visit for your patients.
How to go paperless
Making the switch from a paper-based company to a paperless one can feel daunting at first glance. But if you follow the right process, you’ll find that it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might initially expect.
Here are step-by-step instructions you can use to take your healthcare company from paper-based to paperless.
1. Upgrade your software
The first step to going paperless is upgrading your software. You’ll need the right tools in place before transitioning your team to a paperless system.
For healthcare clinics and organizations, the most important thing to focus on here is finding the right document management software. The solution you choose should be intuitive and accessible enough for anyone in your organization to use.
2. Upgrade your hardware
You will also likely want to invest in new hardware when you go paperless. For example, digital signage makes it easy to communicate important information with patients and employees in a completely digitized way.
You can turn any screen into a digital signage display with the right software. Check out UPshow to see how your healthcare facility could benefit from our digital signage solution.
3. Transfer your paper documents
The next step in the transformation process is taking your existing paper documents and digitizing them.
This could take some time depending on how many documents you have to transfer over. But it’s an essential component of going paperless.
As you’re doing this, try to keep in mind all of the benefits that you will enjoy after going paperless. The efficiency and cost savings you experience will usually make up for this tough step of the transformation process.
4. Train your team
After you have the right hardware and software in place and you’ve completed the document transition process, you’re ready to begin training your team.
As you complete this training, make sure that you’re available to answer your employees’ questions. It can also be helpful to create digital documents that answer common questions and provide step-by-step instructions for common tasks.
5. Remove unnecessary paper from your facility
Now you can begin removing old paper documents from your building. When you do, just keep in mind your legal obligations regarding patient information. Depending on your location, you may have to follow a specific process for destroying patient records.
6. Don’t backtrack on your commitment
After your transition is complete, it’s important to stick to the new practices even when the old ones feel easier. To make sure that happens, it’ll be important for you to communicate why the new practices are so much better than the old ones to your employees.
You will likely want to ask your supervisors and managers to help out with this as well.
The bottom line: Are we in a future of paperless healthcare?
The benefits of going paperless are clear for healthcare providers.
Businesses that do so can enjoy greater employee productivity, cost savings, and superior patient satisfaction.
However, many healthcare companies have yet to make the full switch to being completely paperless. That suggests that, although it seems clear that we will eventually see a completely paperless healthcare industry, the future isn’t here just yet.
But that doesn’t mean you need to wait for it to arrive. Instead, you may be able to get a leg up on the competition by beating them to the punch. By going paperless now, you could stand out from your competitors with improved business practices and better patient experiences.
UPshow makes it easier to embrace the paperless future of healthcare
Are you ready to take your healthcare company paperless? If so, UPshow is the partner you need to get started. We create powerful digital signage solutions that make it easy to get rid of the paper that’s still left in your office.
With UPshow’s digital signage software, healthcare companies can do each of the following things:
- Easily share important health announcements and process information
- Allow patients to check themselves in for visits with digital check-in kiosks
- Advertise your services to patients in your facility
- Keep your patients entertained
But don’t just take our word for it. You can schedule a free custom demo with UPshow today to experience the difference we provide yourself.