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Lewis, School of Nursing Faculty
Options for going
paperless have increased over the past two decades. In the area of health care,
going paperless is beneficial to patients and helps reduce cost. As patients
live longer, with multiple medical issues, developing a plan of care that meets
their needs has become increasingly challenging. Communication is the key to
coordinating their care—as health care professionals, it helps us understand
how our patients feel and helps the patient stay in touch. Streamlined,
paperless communication can subsequently reduce problems in health care which
is good for everyone.
Encouraging patients to
use email and text message communication can not only help the patient stay in
touch with the provider but helps patients better keep track and take ownership
of their plan of care. Email, for example, it is readily available from a
multitude of devices and providers can share a multitude of information with
patients very quickly. It’s an attractive, convenient way for patients to
communicate with their practice, and the demand for such a service will
undoubtedly increase over time. Long gone are the days where patients have to
wait in the mail for lab results, patients can now view lab results online or
have them delivered via email.
In addition, patients
can now save past emails or other electronic communications for future
reference with just a click or swipe of the finger. While the transition period
can be a difficult one for some patients who are set in their ways, but the
benefits of using electronic communication should be reiterated at each
When attempting to
convert a patient from using paper to electronic communication, the health care
provider needs to do an assessment of the patient’s readiness and electronic
literacy. If you see that the patient has a hard time using a smartphone or
computer, the transition to electronic communication could take more time. It
might also benefit a patient to look into taking a free computer literacy
Do not rush patients
into transitioning into a paperless system, everyone moves at a different pace.
It’s important to remind the patient about the need to switch but do so in a
friendly manner. Finally, health care professionals should always use a
designated work email address rather than their personal one to both protect
confidentiality and maintain appropriate boundaries.
patients using email has many advantages, including the flexibility for those
who may otherwise find it difficult to discuss health matters during office
hours. As noted, it’s vital to educate patients on the importance of going
paperless—each patient who goes paperless saves not only postage, ink, and, of
course, paper but also time. All of these items when calculated together equals
a health care savings for not only the patients but also the health care
facility. The benefits of going paperless are endless and in today’s electronic
world the need to go paperless could not be more evident.
Jeremy Lewis is a faculty member at
Kaplan University. The views
expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent
the view of Kaplan University.
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