The healthcare sector is pushing for a paperless working environment by 2020. Why? Because a paper-free working environment has been shown to improve workplace efficiency, reduce resource wastage and better protect your data.
But where does this leave you?
Working in the physiotherapy environment likely means you’ll have a lot of paper around you. While the work may be aimed at healing injuries, you will be all too familiar with the sheer quantity of paper documentation that goes with it.
Getting rid of all that paper — paper that is essential for your work — may seem like an impossible feat, but it can be done. Management of your documentation is the key to success into the future. Here is how you can turn your physio paperless in time for 2020:
Step One: Patient Forms and Waivers
Any new patient you acquire will be required to submit forms and waivers for treatment. It’s standard practice and the process itself is unavoidable. However, these documents don’t have to be paper. Electronic documents can be used to provide this kind of information, while touchscreen technology allows for authenticated electronic signatures.
To support your goals of going paperless, have your patients fill in the relevant documents in digital formats. This could include:
- Sending over registration documents and record forms via email
- Providing online registration or document upload options on your website
- Using tablets or touchscreen devices to enable the signing of waivers and registration in-house when a patient comes to your physio practice
Step Two: Records and Patient Information
Many physios will also receive documents from other organisations within the healthcare sector. These may be referrals from GPs, trusts, hospitals, other physios or private practices. This can result in the accumulation of a huge amount of paper — some patients may have lots of information surrounding their injuries, suggested or required treatment and historic details of treatment.
To avoid having the buildup of paper documents from third parties ruin your goal of achieving a paperless physio, the simplest, yet often most effective, solution is to request that files be sent online rather than via post. While the healthcare sector does have an affinity for postal sharing, plans are for documentation to be stored somewhere on a computer system as part of Paperless 2020. If you also consider that, as of October 2018, NHS trusts will no longer accept paper referrals, only digital ones, it becomes clear that most patient information should be available digitally. As a result, it can be assumed that you can get documents transferred electronically to your physio practice from most referring healthcare bodies, rather than submitted in paper form.
Not all patients and healthcare bodies will be adapting their methods of communication and document sharing. Once you set out your preferred communication method advising your patients and other healthcare bodies, as time passes you will likely see more and more supporting your paperless goals.
Step Three: Online Faxing
The healthcare sector is still heavily reliant on fax machines to transmit documentation and patient data. Thousands exist within the industry, with many organisations finding themselves entrenched in the use of outdated systems and unable to move away from the physical fax machine.
The result is that your physiotherapy practice is likely to use a physical fax machine too, because it has always been the way to send and receive important documents. However, owning a physical fax machine and going paperless are distinctly counteractive to each other. Physical fax machines require paper to operate, whether you are sending or receiving documents.
While you cannot remove faxing as a method of communication, you can, however, remove the physical fax machine. Online faxing services offer an alternative to outdated practices, allowing you to send and receive fax documents via computer and mobile applications, rather than using a physical fax machine. The technology enables comprehensive access to documentation used in healthcare, but removes any need for paper usage. Through the use of touchscreen technology, it also means you still have the functionality available to send legally binding signatures, which takes away from having to print to sign and scan to send a signed file.
Step Four: Patient Communication
Communication with patients in the healthcare industry is often done using paper sent through the post. However, this is not going to help you achieve your paperless targets and it isn’t always necessary. The postal service is slower than the digital options that are now available.. To become paper-free and keep your physio practice up to date with 21st-century practices, consider using alternative methods of communication:
- Emails — When you need to send over important documents, email can be a fast method of transmission.
- Texts — Updates about appointments, cancellations and other quick messages can be sent over text, reducing paper usage and also boosting the efficiency of communication.
- Online Messaging — Social media and mobile applications such as WhatsApp can provide physios with excellent opportunities for direct patient communication.
Success in this area is all about careful management of patient and client data, while ensuring you receive the correct permissions to use it.
People like the idea of going paperless. They will support you in your aim of achieving a paper-free physio practice. By simply raising awareness of your goals and requesting they help you by allowing you to contact them through paperless methods, you may find that digital communication becomes a lot easier.
Step Five: Treatment and Instructional Materials
Recovery and injury treatment is often done at home. A physio can only do so much and it is up to the patient to also do their bit. This will likely mean you offer materials and instructional information about how patients should continue the physiotherapy process post-appointment. These materials usually come in the form of brochures and leaflets, which are incompatible with your paperless goals.
Instead, you could look to offer these documents in a digital format. Your online platform can become your portal of physiotherapy materials. Provide download functionality on your website if possible, or request email addresses so that files can be submitted over the internet. If you require interactivity, such as to display specific patient information or adapt therapy for unique injuries, a wealth of physical therapy mobile applications exist to assist you.
This post has been sponsored by eFax
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