Bite the bullet and go paperless


How do I determine when going paperless is financially justified in my veterinary practice?

How do I determine when going paperless is financially justified?

"From my perspective, it's always the right time to go paperless," says Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, president of Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan. As the question implies, there are many advantages to being paperless (see the sidebar below). Although cost has never been a factor, Dr. Rothstein says he has helped create close to 10 paperless practices, and phasing out your old records is easier than you think. Here's how he does it:

"We pick a start date, and all visits after that date are typed into our veterinary software program," says Dr. Rothstein, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. "I see no reason to enter any past medical history into our electronic records. Instead, for each visit during that transition year, we lug out the old paper chart for historical reference. Then, at our one-year anniversary of being paperless, we no longer pull out the paper chart, except by special request—which almost never happens."

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The bottom line: Anything older than a year usually has little bearing on the pet's current health status, Dr. Rothstein says. And any chronic or ongoing conditions would be addressed and documented electronically during the transition year. "I've found it exceedingly easy to make the change—you just have to get your game plan together and start," he says. "So the right time is now."

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