Positive Consequences of Going Paperless

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By Stormy Bulas, Central Intake Manager, Oxford Healthcare and Wes McGuirk, Regional Director, Oxford Healthcare
Paperless Home Care Agency

We often don’t realize the weight of something until it’s lifted off our shoulders, and that’s precisely what happened when the Intake department at Oxford Healthcare, Springfield, Mo., got rid of paper.

Yes, going paperless is great for the environment—a win for all of us who breathe air. But replacing our paper intake system with McKesson Homecare Doc Center two years ago brought results far beyond good feelings.

For starters, we saved $10,000 per year in paper costs by saving faxed documents electronically to the network rather than printing them. In the summer of 2015, we were using more than 30 cases of paper each month. By February 2016, that number had dropped to fewer than five. We also experienced a 25% reduction in support staff hours spent printing and distributing those faxes.

What we didn’t fully expect were the productivity benefits:

  1. Better internal communication. We have five offices in four cities, and with the new system, medical social workers can ask questions about patients without first sending a 30-page fax. A nurse simply accesses the patient’s information online when the social worker calls, facilitating real-time communication.
  2. Faster decision-making. Easy collaboration with remote staffers helps decisions on incoming referrals happen more quickly.
  3. Open fax lines. Now that internal documents don’t need to be faxed, we have greater capacity to receive information from third parties via fax.
  4. Ability to centralize support tasks. This includes routing incoming documents and filing documents in patient charts.
  5. More pleasant workspaces. Our desks are no longer covered with paper, and our offices are no longer jammed with filing cabinets.
  6. More flexibility for personnel. We have dramatically improved our ability to support telecommuting.

Rollout recommendations

Based on our experience with exchanging paper systems for Doc Center, we offer the following:

Consider hardware. Before you get deep into planning, evaluate your printing and server assets. If your agency hasn’t upgraded to networked multifunction printers (MFPs), now is the time. You also may need additional data storage space.

Roll out in phases. We started with a small pilot group. For one month, we used Doc Center for all referral documents for two branch locations. This allowed us to work out the kinks in the processes we developed before rolling out to the entire company. During this time, our MFPs both printed incoming faxes and saved them to the network. We decided on a go-live date, at which time we turned off the hard-copy printing on the MFPs and began using Doc Center for all referral documents companywide. We told staff: “Everything for referrals is in Doc Center. You can go see it. If you need to print it, you can do that, but the intake department will not be delivering paper to you.” As people became comfortable with the system, they printed fewer documents, then stopped altogether.

Doc Center helped our organization move away from paper and its associated costs—and we gained a world of productivity along the way.

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