Opting to go paperless is a common aspiration for many businesses, yet it always seemed an ambitious challenge that was just out of reach for most, until now. In 2013, health secretary Jeremy Hunt challenged the NHS to go paperless by 2018 and with the advent of new technology and a change in the regulations to allow the use of electronic signatures for the purposes of FP17 documents, being fully paperless is no longer just an ambition; it can be a reality.
Although the Electronic Communications Act 2000 was adapted in 2002 to make electronic signatures acceptable, NHS regulations did not permit the use of digital signature capture until 2013.
NHS guidance now states if the signature is captured electronically then the practice is able to hold the record electronically, meaning FP17s in paper format can effectively become a thing of the past. However, if the signature is not captured electronically then the practice must retain a paper record, often meaning that paper forms must be scanned and hard and soft versions kept, adding to the workload of the practice management team.
Clinipad is the final piece of the jigsaw allowing practices to go fully paperless. Clinipad holds all the forms required by a practice, including medical history, in-house treatment acceptance forms and smile assessments, in electronic format; enabling patients to complete forms electronically on either iPads or android devices. Integration between Clinipad and Exact practice management software ensures that forms are stored within the patient’s file and can be updated at the touch of a button.
Clinipad also ensures that forms are completed correctly, preventing patients from missing information, and thereby helping with compliance.
Paper, paper everywhere
David Barke, principal of No Worries Dentistry in Shrewsbury, says he hasn’t looked back since his practice introduced Clinipad – now patients update their own medical records, sign for the changes electronically and access all of the practices’ NHS forms stored on Clinipad.
David said: ‘Unlike paper records, Clinipad immediately shows if a patient has filled in all the necessary details correctly and indicates if something has been missed, which makes everything much simpler and is another great time saver at reception. It has completely streamlined our front-desk processes.’
The practice has three Clinipads in reception and its patients have embraced the new technology. David said: ‘It helps to give a modern feel to the practice and our patients like the fact that it is not just technology for technology’s sake, it is a real time-saver and a safe and secure way to store all of our patients’ records.’
Latest figures show a staggering 17% of practices still run manual practice management systems, meaning they are buried under mountains of paperwork despite the advances in modern technology. For the other 83%, computerisation and innovative software has streamlined day-to-day administrative processes and increased efficiency within the practice. The addition of technology such as Clinipad is further streamlining these processes, whilst at the same time helping to display a positive image to patients or potential patients.