5 steps to go paperless, from an office that did it
By Angela Beal, DVM
Many hospitals believe they are paperless since they use digital medical records, but they still use paper forms for processes such as patient check-in, surgical consent, and anesthetic monitoring that are scanned into the digital medical record. These “paperless” clinics spend countless hours scanning forms and use precious space storing redundant paper documentation.
While truly eliminating all paper from your workflow may not be possible, it is possible to go chartless by replacing all of your paper forms and medical records with digital versions. SmartFlow Patient Workflow Software will help your hospital become chartless, saving you time and space along the way.
Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital in Carpinteria, California, adopted SmartFlow’s complete workflow optimization system and went chartless as part of the process. Carpinteria’s hospital administrator, Erin Milne, shared five steps they used to make the process as seamless as possible:
Step #1: Plan ahead
Start conversations with your team about the transition months before you make the jump. Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital introduced the idea of a chartless system during staff meetings leading up to the big day and brought iPads with SmartFlow Patient Workflow Software into the hospital several weeks before. This allowed team members to get comfortable with the software by customizing the system and training with test patients.
Step #2: Get team buy-in
Milne feels that a critical component of their successful transition was helping team members realize how a chartless system could make their day easier. She suggests polling your staff about suggestions they have to improve your workflow or about steps in your process that could be skipped by going chartless. These suggestions can even be incorporated into your customizable SmartFlow workflow.
You have to get staff buy-in. Everybody has to be on board with it. This is not something you can impose from the top down and expect really positive results.
Erin Milne, administrator, Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital
At Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital, the environmental impact of using less paper was an important motivator for staff members to adopt the system, but your team’s motivating factors could be completely different. Other reasons might include saving money on the cost of paper or no longer having to scan or retype paper documents.
Step #3: Transition medical records
Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital was already using Cornerstone Software for patient record management, so switching to a more robust digital system was not a huge leap for its team. If your hospital already uses a patient information management system, SmartFlow software will convert older records easily. Transitioning from paper records to a digital system will take a little more time, but the improved workflow your hospital will enjoy will be well worth it.
When first converting to a digital system, Milne’s team decided that starting with new clients seemed to be the easiest way to integrate their new chartless system. Every hospital will want to choose the best place to start.
Step #4: Replace paper forms with electronic forms
To become truly chartless, your hospital’s paper forms will be replaced by electronic versions that are accessed with portable iPads. SmartFlow software has many templates your hospital can use as provided, or you can customize them to better fit your needs. A few of the electronic forms that improve your hospital’s efficiency include:
- Client check-in forms
- Surgical consent forms
- Euthanasia forms
- Treatment forms
- Anesthetic monitoring forms
Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital has found that SmartFlow’s electronic forms save their team time with every patient. At check-in, their client service representatives hand clients an iPad to provide information, instead of a clipboard full of papers. During anesthesia, vital signs are electronically charted so veterinary technicians can see trends and respond immediately.
Step #5: Take advantage of SmartFlow software’s support
SmartFlow software’s support team helps your hospital make the switch to chartless as smooth as possible. SmartFlow trainers install the system and personally teach your team how to navigate through the various components. After that, your team can contact the 24/7 support line at any time for advice. Milne set up periodic online meetings with SmartFlow trainers so her team members could ask questions as they got to know the system better. She encourages hospital administrators to empower team members to take it upon themselves to call SmartFlow software support to resolve issues so they can better understand the system.