In practices or institutions not quite ready for a full-blown electronic health record, paper can be a very effective part of the workflow. Well-structured paper charting, integrated with modest and simple electronic tools (scanning, e-prescribing, patient education and follow-up) can be a beneficial and legitimate solution to the EHR documentation quagmire.
- Predicable provider acceptance and willingness to cooperate- this is a key component for the success of any clinical system.
- Storing and retrieving patient records becomes simple by scanning all documents to the patient database.
- Prescriptions are quick, managed, and legible.
- Patient education and follow-up instructions are legible and rapidly produced.
- The need for provider-financed documentation assistants- scribes- virtually disappears, saving $$$!
- Template documentation facilitates completeness, and is valuable for medical-legal and financial reasons. Free-handwriting should be used only to supplement a template, but not to document the entire encounter.
- The costs of paper solutions are historically much less than those of EHR implementation and maintenance.
- Legibility issues
- Potential losses of meaningful use stimulus money. However, meaningful use criteria is a constantly moving target that many- despite huge expenses for EHR systems- have not received.
- Decreased ability to extract data.
- Common traditional complaints about paper templates- legibility ad difficulty obtaining a representative narrative.