Posted By Denton Dickerson On September 21, 2023
As a healthcare organization, you have a unique opportunity to not only care for your patients but also protect the environment. According to a report by Arup, the healthcare industry is responsible for 4% of global CO2 emissions and up to 10% of national emissions from developed countries. These emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, among others. This exacerbates climate change and its negative health impacts. Therefore, healthcare practices must adopt sustainable practices to achieve carbon net zero. One significant way healthcare facilities can do this is by making the switch from paper-based record-keeping to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and practice management systems. In this blog, we’ll explore the environmental benefits of going paperless, along with the advantages it carries for healthcare organizations and professionals.
The Environmental Impact of Paper-Based Systems
The healthcare industry is one of the largest paper consumers globally, leading to staggering ecological consequences. Every year, over 2 million trees are cut down to meet the paper needs of U.S. healthcare organizations. This deforestation has severe environmental implications, such as habitat loss and soil erosion. Additionally, paper-based systems are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste generation.
Understanding Sustainable Healthcare
Sustainable healthcare is a concept that prioritizes meeting current healthcare needs while, at the same time, protecting and preserving natural resources for future generations. Going paperless is one way healthcare organizations can efficiently and effectively align their practices with the principles of sustainable healthcare. Electronic solutions like EHR, Practice Management, and Billing systems can reduce the carbon footprint of a healthcare facility by eliminating paper usage that contributes to waste and resource consumption. Make sure to choose an EHR that prioritizes sustainability by offering features that eliminate waste, such as an electronic fax option that allows for paperless inbound faxing.
The Benefits of Going Paperless at Your Practice
Here are 5 benefits of going paperless at your practice:
Good for the Environment
Around 15 billion trees are cut down annually worldwide, with paper being a well-known reason for deforestation. Decreasing your paper usage makes you more environmentally friendly, which may align more with your values and those of your patients. It will certainly reduce the strain on our environment by going paperless.
Increases Your Staff’s Productivity
One of the most significant advantages of going paperless in healthcare is enhanced efficiency and productivity. EHR systems streamline documentation and information retrieval, reducing the need for manual processes. This, in turn, saves time and money. With paperless solutions, you don’t have to go searching for papers or a physical health record to send patient data over to another provider. You can do this electronically and use patient referral orders to track any patients or clients you refer out to other providers. You can go paperless with electronic patient consent forms too! You can even speed up time by having clients electronically sign those through a patient portal before they arrive at your office. But patient portals aren’t just empowering for patients; they also greatly benefit healthcare professionals. With seamless access to patient information, coordination and care delivery become more efficient, leading to improved patient outcomes. There are so many ways electronic file exchange can save your health organization precious time so you can focus on what matters most – patient care.
Improves Data Security
Going paperless improves data security and accessibility of patient information. Electronic record-keeping provides enhanced protection against physical document loss or damage, and data backup and disaster recovery processes are simplified. With electronic records, medical professionals can access patient information in a matter of seconds, improving the diagnosis and treatment process in a fully HIPAA-compliant way.
Enhances Patient Engagement
Effective communication is a vital aspect of enhancing the patient experience and boosting patient engagement. Introducing an online patient portal can give patients the ability to select their preferred method of communication. By understanding whether patients prefer text message reminders or email updates, healthcare providers can establish better channels of communication that improve their reputation and build stronger patient trust. Patients also use patient portals to do self-check-in and complete medical history forms and consent forms before arrival, saving them time. These processes can even be automated so your team no longer has to spend time on them!
Gone are the frustrating days when patients had to endure a complex process to access their medical records. Thanks to patient portals, this roadblock is now virtually eliminated. In just a few clicks, patients can effortlessly access their encrypted health records, putting vital information right at their fingertips. No more waiting for phone calls or relying on snail mail for updates. Now, patients can conveniently review medical results, schedule appointments, and communicate directly with their doctors. An EHR can also include telehealth services for clients who may not be able to attend an in-person appointment.
Implementing a Successful Paperless System
While the benefits of electronic record-keeping are clear, the transition from paper-based to paperless systems can be challenging. There is a learning curve to any change, and this is no exception. To ensure a successful transition, it is essential to manage change and prepare staff members for the switch. Organizations should devote ample time and resources to planning, training, and ongoing support during EHR implementation. It helps to work with a vendor with a successful track record of implementation success and a team committed to training your staff and providing excellent customer service.
By reducing reliance on paper-based systems, your organization can decrease its environmental impact and work towards sustainable healthcare. Implementing paperless Electronic Health Records solutions is an essential step towards greater environmental good – while increasing efficiency, productivity, and data accessibility for your organization’s and patients’ benefit. While the transition can be challenging, with adequate planning and training, healthcare organizations can successfully adopt paperless systems and positively impact the environment. At Patagonia Health, we offer EHR, Practice Management, and Billing software that facilitates a smooth transition to paperless operations. Join us in promoting sustainable healthcare by working towards paperless record-keeping.
About Patagonia Health, Inc.
Patagonia Health’s integrated EHR, Practice Management, and Billing solutions are designed to improve departmental workflows using apps and cloud-based technology. Our company was founded with a focus on providing technology solutions with highly referenceable customer service. We collaborate with public and behavioral health organizations to develop advanced features, empowering them to improve the well-being of their communities. Our federally-certified software enables our customers to achieve their desired health outcomes. We serve those who serve others. If you’d like more information about our solutions, contact us today.