It’s the necessary, but burdensome, by-product of private therapy practice.
Almost every therapist we speak with imagines a world where all his or her documents are digital and available at the click of a button. Luckily, in today’s online environment, it has never been easier to get there! Practices all over Canada are discovering that they have every reason to move their clinical and administrative documents onto a digital platform, and have far fewer reasons to keep things shoved in a filing cabinet.
If you’re still looking for reasons to migrate your paperwork online, or just need some motivation to get started, we’ve compiled some of the best below!
7 reasons you should start digitizing
your practice paperwork
1 Get rid of filing cabinets
While filing cabinets come in a wider array of colours and styles than the traditional beige and office grey, they’re still unsightly and expensive. If you’ve been in practice for any length of time at all, you won’t just have one filing cabinet, but several. And, as you are professionally required to keep client files for a minimum of seven years, it’s very likely you’ll need more of these delightful objects, spending hundreds of dollars in the process. By digitizing paperwork, you remove this expense from your practice.
2 Save on space
Storing paperwork in filing cabinets can also take up valuable space in what, for most people, is an already small office. Perhaps you have a filing cabinet beside your desk, or if you’re lucky, you have a locked filing room (Anentire room for files? Yikes!). Whatever your arrangement, these files take up valuable space and will consume more and more of it over time. Plus, with physical records, once you do outgrow those filing cabinets, you’ll need to store them somewhere else. This can cost you, both in storage (which increases with every box) and in retrieval (typically around $85 per file). Alternatively, digital file storage is instantaneous and avoids those incremental costs entirely.
3 Unify all client record-keeping
Once everything is stored digitally, you can easily associate files with a client’s profile. Clinical notes, billing history, receipts, appointment reminders, contact details, and paperwork can all be cross-referenced and maintained in a single, integrated system.
4 Improve access to stored files
Accessing stored digital files is much easier than rifling through a filing cabinet in the hopes that you can find that consent form/report/letter that you need. In seconds, you can easily bring up a complete summary of all files associated with that client’s account. Not only that, but it substantially improves the portability of your files! With an online document storage system, you won’t need to drag files or paper documents with you from the office to home, nor will you have to worry about those files being left accessible for anyone to see. You’ll be able to quickly access them electronically, for your eyes only, and close them when complete.
5 Eliminate the worst-case scenario
We’ve all heard the horror stories: a sewage backup in a basement storage room, or a fire that consumes years of historical client records. A situation like that could be a costly and devastating blow to a practice. With paperwork stored electronically, your files are automatically backed up, so you never lose them. They will always be available wherever you are, and will always be protected from water damage, age, or illegibility.
6 Comply with PHIPA & college requirements
All mental health professions have strict requirements regarding the retention of client records. Whether that includes purging them after a mandatory period, or managing your professional duties past your active practice life into retirement, electronic records can be a huge boon. Starting early with digital record-keeping can be a key component to well-organized and compliant document management throughout the life of your practice.
7 Practice peace of mind
Most importantly, online document storage gives you the security of knowing that all of your files are protected, retained, and safe. The only people who can access your documents are you and your team. You can access documents when you need them, where you need them. You won’t run the risk of a file being damaged by coffee, lost on the floor of a car, or put out of order in a filing cabinet. You can rest easy knowing that everything is safe, secure, and organized!
Getting started with digital documents
is easier than it looks!
It may seem like quite an undertaking, but moving to digital record keeping is simpler than you think.
The best first step is to choose a cut-off date, after which you will start to digitize all of your practice paperwork. Get set up with a multi-page scanner, or modify your workflow so you’re originating or saving documents as digital documents (like PDF’s) in the first place. Once you’ve done that, it’s a simple matter of uploading single files or collections of client documents into your Owl repository.
Some of you may also want to digitize your entire historical practice archive. While this is certainly not necessary, hiring a summer student to scan and upload documents may be important for your practice. While it takes time and resources to digitize these historical records, once done, you can be assured that everything is neatly and completely in one, integrated place for your entire practice life.
It’s been a year since we launched our Documents Upload feature for Owl Practice, and it is easily one of the most popular features we’ve ever introduced. To give it a try for your practice, sign up for a free trial account, or request a demo today!