Written by Guest Writer: Lindsey Patterson
When you run a medical practice you can end up with an overwhelming amount of paper, which not only leads to a higher risk of HIPAA violations but can also be difficult to store and dispose of. Reducing the amount of paper you produce helps decrease your environmental footprint and keeps your patients and your medical practice safer. Here are six ways you can begin to decrease the paper produced in your office.
1. Invest in Document Management Software For Your Practice
Utilize medical records management software to store private patient information securely. This allows you to remain HIPAA compliant, respond more quickly to records requests, review medical and claims information more efficiently and makes it easier to access important information while meeting with your patients. A streamlined, secure process will make your clients feel like their information safety is important to you.
2. Allow Phone and Online Payments
You probably already have an in-house card payment machine, but your patients and your staff will appreciate the option of online or phone payments as well. In addition to a reduction in paper receipts and forms, this lets your customers pay in the way that is easiest for them and decreases the amount of time your employees spend processing payments. By making paying more convenient, you’ll likely see fewer missed payments and an increase in your accounts receivable.
3. Implement Paperless Check In
No one wants to spend extra time writing out responses to questions and signing paperwork when they aren’t feeling well or are nervous about a medical procedure. Make checking in a breeze by offering a paperless option at your medical practice. Patients can sign in electronically and review and confirm the information on forms displayed on a computer screen or tablet without having to spend nearly as much time writing. Be sure to make assistance available for clients who may not be as comfortable with electronic processes so that they can get through the process without trouble.
4. Use Email for Reminders
Mailing out appointment reminders is expensive and cumbersome. You have to print lots of paper and pay the postage to get the information to your customers. Often these reminders end up in the trash or lost anyways, so offer the option of text or email reminders instead. Most of your patients will likely enjoy a more convenient way of receiving their notice and a reduction in the paper clutter in their own homes. This can also help ensure fewer missed appointments due to reminders lost in the mail or misplaced once they arrive.
5. Only Collect What You Need
Keep track of what information you have from patients already and only collect new information that you absolutely need. Don’t have patients fill out the same forms at every visit if you don’t need updates. Have them review the information you already have on file to ensure there are no changes rather than printing new forms for them to complete. This will result in more efficient processes and make it easier for your medical practice to quickly identify the most up-to-date information to treat your clients. Your patients will love not having to spend time providing the same information over and over to your practice.
6. Allow Patients To Opt-Out of Paper Copies
Many patients don’t want to walk around with papers that include their private medical information. Often they don’t want to deal with receipts, copies of check-in forms or other paperwork either. Always offer the option to opt-out of receiving paper copies if they’d like. Alternatively, you can provide non-sensitive information like payment receipts in email form if they do still want a copy for their records.
Information in the medical world is very important, requires rigorous practices to protect it and can add up quickly. However, you don’t have to drown in physical paper to run a high-quality, organized medical practice that values patient safety and privacy. Follow these tips to begin reducing your office’s paper consumption.