• NU_Benefits of Paperless

    By Jeremy 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.

    Benefits of Paperless Communication Tools 

    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 visit. 

    Know Your Patient’s Readiness to Go Paperless 

    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 class.

    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.

    Other Advantages   

    Communicating with 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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