As the world moves toward more and more digital operations, it’s time to start considering what life in paperless dental offices will look like.

The paperless revolution is well on its way. Heck, it was the main premise of The Office, and that’s been off the air for five years now!

From airports to banks, industries are finding ways to streamline their operations by going paperless.

And dentistry is no different! Be it electronic forms or a patient portal, dental practices are finding more ways to engage with patients, sans-paper.

With that said, as dentistry continues its shift toward paperless practices, here are a few things to expect.

Increased Patient Satisfaction

The first, and ultimately largest, thing you’ll notice is that patients love paperless dental offices. In fact, many may have wondered why it took so long to get there.

When it comes to patient intake, online forms are simply way more convenient than paper forms. Patients can fill out their info while at work, at home, or even while traveling. Basically, right when their appointment is top of mind. Even when in the office, electronic forms are completed by tapping on a tablet rather than awkwardly scribbling on a knee-balanced clipboard.

Speaking to the convenience of online forms, a survey by business website The Manifest found that only 13% of people prefer using physical forms.

Only 13% of people prefer using physical forms, according to a study by The Manifest. And the satisfaction goes well beyond intake.

Patient portals give people a certain sense of autonomy. They can view their treatment history. Documents like x-rays and billing statements are at their fingertips. Patients feel a sense of ownership over their personal health.

Email and text message reminders save clutter and time. Patients still receive notification, but without having to fish a postcard out of their unopened mail stack.

Ultimately, the paperless imperative is one of convenience. And who doesn’t love it when things are made easier?!

Eco-Friendly Operations

There’s nothing wrong with going green, especially when you consider that, according a Nielson study, 73% of Millennials will pay more for services if they benefit the environment.

Yep, that’s right, eco-friendly dental practices have a better chance at landing new patients from the largest generation in American history.

Eco-friendly practices have a better chance at landing new patients from the largest generation in American history. “Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending Millennials of tomorrow, too,” says Grace Farraj, SVP, Public Development & Sustainability, Nielsen.

Cloth towels, reusable bibs, paperless EOBs, and digital impressions are all tangible changes patients will notice during their appointments. They’re also fantastically manageable steps toward a more sustainable office.

Practices that move away from paper not only help cut down on startling statistics like the fact that one million ink cartridges are thrown away daily, they’re also marketing themselves toward a huge, environmentally conscious patient base.

That’s a win for both the practice and Mother Earth!

Big Savings

Patient love it and it’s great for the planet. Awesome. But here’s the rub: you can save a substantial amount of money by going paperless.

According to practice management consultant Wendy Aldhamen, paperless dental offices can save $10,000 a year (and in some cases upwards of $11,000).

Paperless practices can save $10,000 a year (and in some cases, upwards of $11,000). 

By Wendy’s estimate, a practice can save $7,751 on film, charts, and mount costs alone!

To be sure, going paperless takes initial investments. Eliminating paper towels means that you’ll spend on cloth hand wipes. Completely nixing paper forms means that you’ll need to invest in a tablet for in-office intake.

But, as with most sustainable alternatives, up-front investments lead to savings down the line.

Those two changes alone alleviate the need for: clipboards, staplers, sticky flags, paper towels, and filing trays.

They’ll also cut down on the usage of toner, pens, and pencils.

And, tying back to the acquisition of younger, more loyal patients, the longterm gains that come from sustainability far exceed any short-term investments.

A Paperless Future

Going paperless isn’t like ripping off a band-aid. It means a change in your systems and operations.

There will certainly be some hiccups, but such is the way of any update — staffing, procedural, or otherwise.

However, there is no denying that the world is moving to a paperless existence. Eventually there will be a tipping point where offices still using only postcard reminders and paper intake forms will seem antiquated.

For where we stand right now, it’s the perfect time to begin transitioning toward operations and monitoring just how much they change your practice for the better.


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