Paperless practice pitfalls

Why practices struggle to implement a ‘paperless’ practice

Before implementing any paperless solution at your practice you would have assessed your business requirements and chosen the right medical billing & electronic medical record (EMR) system for your practice. Now it’s time to roll out your system and start reaping the benefits. But, like any change, planning is crucial to the success of your implementation. It’s not something you can just ‘leave to the experts.’ While you can rely on their expertise and guidance, your participation will mean the difference between reaching your practice’s fullest potential and simply changing processes.  

To help you have the best experience, we’ve created this ebook: 6 Steps to ensure successful implementation of your EMR system to ensure you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. But first, let’s spend some time understanding some of the challenges some practices face before they launch. 


Here are 6 reasons why some practices fail at going paperless:  

1. They’ve chosen poorly designed software

If you’re reading this, we’re assuming that you’ve already purchased your EMR, but this is such an important step that it’s worth repeating. The EMR you’ve chosen should be 100% fit for purpose. You don’t want features for the sake of features, and you don’t want to be stuck with a system that was designed without the input of actual doctors. Your EMR should improve your practice’s efficiency & productivity. If you have any doubts at this stage about your choice of software, it’s best to review your goals with your provider to ensure you are getting what you think you’re getting. For a best practice guide for buying Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software, click here.

2. They haven’t developed a plan for when their EMR is down

Cloud-based EMRs depend on a secure, reliable internet connection, but even the most reputable internet service providers can have downtime. It’s important to plan for these instances to ensure that you can still operate your practice.

3. They haven’t chosen a vendor who is going to be their business partner

Hand-in-hand with the point above, a software provider is not the same as a software partner. The system you choose should come with support, expertise and a commitment to helping your practice succeed. Not having a reliable software partner can mean unnecessary headaches for you during the roll-out stage and beyond.

4. They haven’t persevered through the change challenges

Any change comes with challenges. The key is to see it through and give it time to start showing results. Be prepared for minor delays or frustration while you and your staff are learning the new system and establishing more efficient processes.

5. They haven’t strived for the meaningful use of data

In the early days of EMR, systems were being designed to encourage doctors to capture copious amounts of data. Since then, systems have evolved to ensure that the data captured is both easily accessible or useful when it comes to decision making. The data that you collect using your EMR should all be available to you to make the best clinical, financial and operational decisions for your patients and your practice.

6. They haven’t leveraged the power of digital analytics

Following on from the previous point, your practice collects reams of data on a daily basis as a result of seeing patients. You should be able, and willing, to actively review that data to make informed treatment and business decisions. Make sure your software partner shows you the kinds of reports you can draw from your EMR. It’s as important that you take the time to understand these reports and consider how you will act on them.


Now that we’ve looked at why some practices fail to go paperless, let’s spend some time going over some of the things you want to do in order to avoid mistakes and pitfalls.

1. Create a change management plan 

Every change is unique, but the purpose of plotting out a change management plan is to set out achievable, realistic and measurable goals (click here to learn more about goal setting). What is crucial to an effective change management plan is to involve, prepare, equip and support your staff to adapt to the changes. 

Your software partner will be a huge resource to you in developing and executing the plan. Seek out their expertise to ensure you’ve included and planned for everything you need to go-live and beyond. 

Consider things like a training schedule, migrating paper files, ensuring you have the right hardware, configuring templates, carve out time to change the layout of your rooms, if necessary, and regular communication or meetings with your staff and software partner.   

2. Identify & migrate valuable data 

It goes without saying that the change should go largely unnoticed by your patients. Your practice will very likely continue to operate as usual while you roll out the new system. As part of your change management plan, you will have to determine what essential data you will need to limit interruptions to patient appointments.

One well-proven method is to capture patient information on a case-by-case basis. When a patient books an appointment, make sure you migrate Information such as patient demographics, medical aid details, recent history, medication lists, latest lab test results, etc. to their EMR. Speak to your software partner about the features and tools that are available to make this migration as fast and easy as possible. 

Again, with support from the right software partner, identifying and migrating essential data is completely possible. As long as your plan is in place and your staff are willing, your EMR implementation can be pain-free. 

3. Initiate training 

It’s safe to assume that all members of staff working in the front office, with accounts or general admin will need training. It’s a good idea to bear in mind each person’s proficiency when it comes to computers but a good EMR software is designed with the user in mind, and should take no more than a few hours before the staff can start using the system. 

Allow for additional training if there are some staff members who need a revision. You should also ask your software partner about the various digital formats of training material that they have available.  This way, if you or your staff need quick answers, you don’t have to wait for a physical person to respond to an email or return your call. 

4. Go-live checklist 

You will have decided on a realistic go-live date in collaboration with your staff and software partner. Here’s a quick checklist to determine if you are ready to “flip the switch”: 

  • Test the system – you don’t want to roll out the EMR without checking that everything is working as it should. 
  • Make sure your infrastructure is adequate and fully operational 
  • All users should be trained and confident to use the system 
  • Check that all user’s computers and devices are configured and passwords and usernames have been set up. 
  • Ensure that staff know your software partners help desk number or email address for support should they need it. 


If you are able to say that you have all the above in place, you can comfortably say you’re ready to roll out your new EMR. Remember to give yourself and your staff a bit of time over the following weeks after implementation to adjust, adapt and master not only the new system but the more efficient processes. Hold regular meetings to deal with any concerns and acknowledge the wins. 

One of the most valuable benefits to look forward to once your EMR is live is that you can continually measure your practice gains and goals. Keep a record of what you determined as your practice goals and work with your software partner to help you realise them. 

Healthbridge has been helping private practices run better businesses for over 20 years. As a true technology partner that understands your practice needs. To get help implementing your new paperless solution click here and a Business Consultant will be in contact to discuss your needs. 

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