As the world has become increasingly digital, leaving paper in the past is considered both ideal for the environment and significantly beneficial for businesses. An impactful article from Forbes, titled The Sustainable Impact of a Paperless Office, explores some very good reasons why the era of paper has past, not just for medical offices, but for the world at large as well. Environmental sustainability is a key driver of the paperless movement; however, there are also other important benefits such as lowered-costs, increased data security, and ease of use with less manual labor required. To quote from the above cited Forbes article:
“Paperless business is a sound and important environmental practice, but it also contributes to better, more efficient business operations.”
Alignment with Company Values
Sustainable business practices that protect the environment, respect the climate, and reduce waste are important to many companies – and consumers. In a 2021 study by GreenPrint, 77% of Americans are concerned about the environmental impact of products they buy. That translates to a major shift in the thought processes of people regarding the services, products, and tech that they use. Eliminating paper and announcing that fact to customers could be a major confidence-booster for current customers and an incentive for new ones. Eliminating paper puts a serious dent in a business’s carbon footprint, not to mention saving trees in the process.
Digital documents are easier to manage, store, transfer, and find when needed. Paper documents can be lost, destroyed, and damaged much more easily. Digital security of documents is important, especially when dealing with medical or credit card information. In a documentation-heavy industry like healthcare, digital solutions actually make it easier to remain HIPAA compliant, with built-in security features that protected PHI and more. Transferring documents to another provider is easy and introduces less opportunity for breaches than say, faxing or emailing copies of paper medical records. Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing and increasingly sophisticated field. By using a HIPAA compliant and secure digital provider, these tasks are handled by industry professionals with the utmost care.
Few paper-dependent businesses take the time to add up the cost of maintaining that system. According to Digiscribe, the standard file cabinet costs between $1500 and $2,100 each year to maintain. This includes the space it takes up, the manpower to file documents and maintain organizational systems, and the actual machines, ink, and paper necessary for printing. Also, in a paper-based system, the typical office worker spends an estimated 30-40% of their day searching for printed documents.
Digital medical forms – including client intake forms, medical releases, consent forms, and others can be securely and efficiently created, distributed electronically, signed, and immediately stored in a matter of seconds. Retrieval is instant and transmission to other offices or a new provider is simple and fast. In a recent survey with more than 3,000 FormDr customers, data showed an average time savings during the patient intake process of 21-minutes per new patient vs. asking patients to fill out paper forms in office.
As other areas of life become increasingly digital – from Zoom meetings to telehealth and online classes – considering how to replace paper processes with a digital product is the first step forward.