The Paper Practice vs. The Paperless Practice

Uncategorized Nov 15, 2020

Believe it or not, there are practices using paper.  Some are “chartless” the others are “full retro” meaning, they are still using their original tried and true techniques which have seemingly worked for them for decades.

Most practices, including the ones using paper, claim to be running efficiently.  Some practices are clearly much more streamlined than others.  So, what is keeping some practices held hostage to the administrative ball and chain of paper, while other practices are successfully running their business with a click of a button?

The number one differentiating factor seems to be the fear of change. This phenomenon is validated by watching other practices struggle while implementing new technology, coupled with unfortunate experiences within their own practices.

If something has worked one way for many years, the risk to change feels substantial.  Ironically, the risk of “not” changing and adapting to new technology also comes with great repercussions.

Reasons some practices choose paper vs computerized record-keeping…


It feels good to be able to hold a piece of paper or chart, knowing that if the internet goes down you can continue working without a hitch.  Reliability does not just end with internet connectivity; the truth is we rely on paper because we understand it. Paper charts are tangible we can hold them, we can visualize it even when it's unopened, and we know right where to find things inside of it.

We feel confident in knowing papers capabilities. Paper is reliable.  We know what to expect. Paper appears less expensive we do not have to invest in hardware or train any of our staff on how to use paper.  We also know that updating paper means simply pulling a new sheet out of the cabinet.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

How can you rely on its cleanliness? Control its sanitation? Can you reply on paper records to be consistent and contemporaneous? Medically legally compliant?  If your staff misplaces the paper, would you even know for sure that it had been there in the first place?

The reliability factor ends up becoming a mask for the true cause; the fear of learning something new. Our own personal skills and ability to adapt to changes play a significant role in what we perceive to be “reliable”.   One might say, “Reliability is in the eye of the beholder.”


The 1960s and 70s brought new advancements in medical record-keeping with the advent of the modern computer. Most dental offices never thought computers would be practical enough or even functional enough to accommodate the needs of dentistry.  The first computerized systems were focused on an easier way to bill patient accounts. No one anticipated digital charting.

With the wide variety of dental practice needs, the electronic options are often overwhelming.   The average clinician or team member in a dental practice finds it difficult to select the features necessary to accomplish their job function. We are bombarded with features, many of which we simply do not need. 

The key is to figure out what is necessary vs what is overkill and ensure that when selecting a product from a vendor, we are not being oversold. Awareness and understanding of technology are key. If we struggle to learn to use these products, how can we possibly face making the best choices?

How the functionality of technology has changed compared to paper.

With paper, the function is dependent on the person entering the clinical findings and providing the care. This can mean the doctor ends up doing most of the work. When the doctor spends more time on paperwork than treating patients, it is very easy to make a case that the technology option is of high value.  In addition, the paper offers a dead-end in terms of workflow, Once you enter data on paper, it cannot be automatically moved into other formats such as formal letters, graphical reports, and or final summary chart notes. PANDA Perio is a highly robust system that moves data for you, “Enter it once and PANDA does the rest.”  PANDA Perio produces a myriad of output reports that are designed to give your patients and referrals instant feedback with the simple click of a button. Click here to see how PANDA Produces effective patient communication

Best option to go paperless.

When you ask people, who have never worked in a practice that was paperless, most of them all say they prefer to keep using paper.  However, if you ask anyone using computers in a paperless office, if they would prefer to go back to using paper, the answer is almost invariably “No”.  I’d say the one who has tried both options, has the experience to make a better judgment call. Look at what some of our happy Periodontal professionals have to say about using PANDA Perio. Click here to review testimonials



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