Myth of the Clinicians’ Paperless Office

When we opened our Nurse Practitioner owned practice in 2006, we used an EMR from day one. We scanned in things like insurance cards and imported them directly into the EMR.

Unfortunately, we did not have the fax networked  so we could receive faxes directly into our system (my mistake, but we’ve recently corrected).

But beyond the faxes, we receive paper via couriers, patients and mail. We shred all the time, and indeed have burned through FOUR shredders since the beginning. But the paper continued to build up.

This week, we called a company (HIPAA compliant of course) to come in and get the paperwork that had already been scanned into the charts. They rolled in a huge paper-bin, we filled it up and then some, and the rolled it back out to their truck where we saw all that paper being eaten up.

If you’d like to avoid this or at least reduce the amount of paper in your office, try these tips.

  • Use an EMR. There are plenty of them available for you to use from free and low cost to those that cost a ridiculous amount of money (IMHO).
  • Next, make sure you have a good scanner. We’ve been using a Brother all-in-one that has served our purposes since 2006 without so much as a hiccup. I also hear frequent praises for the ScanSnap.
  • If you don’t network your faxes to receive them electronically (that was so silly of me), use a service such as UpDox. We are using them now and I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier.
  • Invest in a really good shredder. Don’t go even moderately good…you’ll burn them out.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a shredding service. While they all offer ongoing services for a monthly fee, they also offer one time or periodic services. That pile you see in the picture…cost $40.00 to shred.
  • When requesting records from other offices, ask for them to be sent as PDF’s. No paper and you’ll be able to import them directly into your EMR.

Now that all that paper is out of the office, we fell like we can breathe again. That is until it builds up again.

Share your tips for reducing paper in your office below.

Comments 1

  1. Loved this entry, thank you.
    I have been mulling over BEFORE getting started how to minimize the paper use…right down scouting for computer accessories that let patients sign on a touch screen… I think the cloud is the way to go but am such a novice…
    Now another thing couple of things to add to the list, check with pharmacies about faxing and find out who is HIPAA compliant shredder …
    Thank you (I suspect I’ll be needing your program before long!)

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