Feb 29, 2024

The Essential Guide to Going Paperless in Your Dental Practice

The Essential Guide to Going Paperless in Your Dental Practice

The evolution from paper systems to paperless technologies has been a gradual but significant transformation in dental practices over the last 10 years. Historically, everything from charting to billing and scheduling was paper-based. Today, while the idea of a completely paperless dental office remains challenging due to external factors like insurance companies sending paper documents (explanation of benefits documents), advancements in technology offer promising solutions for practices to go almost completely paperless.

The average dental office still uses a staggering 10,000 sheets of paper annually and wastes more than 10 hours per week scanning, printing, and manually entering data from paper documents. This article aims to explore the benefits of going paperless and how technology, particularly software like Archy, can facilitate this transition.

Why Go Paperless?

When considering the reasons to transition to a paperless environment, it's important to recognize the multiple benefits this change brings. There are four key reasons why going paperless is a strategic and beneficial move for any practice.

Patient Preference: Who would choose a clipboard and pen for filling out paperwork for 10 minutes before their appointment when they could complete it on a mobile device at home, days in advance? According to a recent survey, 83% of people prefer to fill out online forms before arriving at a practice rather than using paper forms. In this post-COVID world, it's clear that patients are increasingly expecting paperless online solutions.

Cost and Time Savings: Each paper form that you use in your office requires time for printing, scanning, and data entry, which can all be eliminated with paperless digital solutions. We’ve heard from offices going paperless that they save up to two hours a day using digital solutions like Archy. Plus, if you're using around 10,000 sheets of paper a year, switching to digital can save you about $500 annually.

Security: Cloud-based solutions offer enhanced security compared to physical records, which are vulnerable to theft and loss. Paper records are a treasure trove for potential thieves aiming to steal patient information; they can access family member names, social security numbers, and even credit card numbers. There are numerous examples: Video shows man stealing stacks of medical records from Sherman Oaks dental office

Environmental Impact of Paper: Annually, an office using 10,000 sheets of paper indirectly results in the felling of approximately 1.2 trees and generates about 260 pounds of CO2. This paper consumption contributes roughly 100 pounds of waste to landfills. 

Space Savings: Many practices experience significant space savings when transitioning from paper-based systems to paperless technologies. By eliminating the need for paper documents, you can finally reclaim those cabinets and shelves that have long been cluttered with years' worth of paperwork. In some instances, particularly with older practices dealing with substantial volumes of paper, they've managed to transform storage closets into new operatories after clearing out the paper clutter.

How to Go Paperless

To transition to a paperless practice, it’s crucial to assess current workflows and identify areas still reliant on paper. When examining existing paper-based workflows, it's essential to grasp the underlying reasons for their continued use: Is it a matter of habit, software constraints, or external limitations imposed by third parties? Here, we'll dive into the areas where we often find practices still relying on paper and show how technology, such as Archy, can effectively replace paper across various aspects of dental practice:

Online Forms:

Switching to online forms is crucial for operational efficiency in your dental practice and a significant step toward a paperless office. Patients prefer them for their convenience—83% prefer online forms over paper. In the past, online form software had limitations; it didn't sync directly with your electronic health records software and still required manual data entry. Other software lacked customizability, resulting in a poor patient experience, like asking teenage boys if they're pregnant.

Recent software advancements, like Archy, are pivotal in the transition to online forms. Archy automates sending forms and reminders, ensuring they're completed before appointments, making the process smoother for patients and staff. As an all-in-one software with built-in forms, Archy automatically populates patient profiles to eliminate manual entry and sync issues.

Archy and newer online forms software offer robust customization, tailoring forms to patient demographics and practice needs. For instance, if you are a periodontist, you can include gum health-related questions, or for pediatric patients, remove pregnancy-related queries for younger boys. Modern software also provides a kiosk mode, allowing in-office tablet-based form completion, replacing paper and helping facilitate efficient data collection.

Billing and Statements:

Transitioning to digital billing is another significant aspect of going paperless. While some insurance-related documents may still require paper, many billing processes can be digitized. Instead of printing statements, modern software like Archy allows you to email and text statements. Combined with online payment options, this does not only reduce paper usage but also adds convenience for patients.

Next time you're walking a patient out and they pay with a credit card in-person, consider using modern software to email or text them a statement instead of printing it out. For outstanding payments, leverage tools like Archy to send secure online payment links via text or email. Utilizing paperless billing solutions like Archy not only reduces paper clutter in your office but also can improve collection rates, helping you get paid faster. 

Appointment Reminders:

In today's digital age, traditional mail-based appointment reminders are losing their effectiveness and becoming costlier compared to modern alternatives. Integrated into systems like Archy, digital communication methods such as email and text messaging offer cost-free solutions with a significantly higher likelihood of patients seeing and engaging with the messages. Studies indicate that as many as 90% of people read every text they receive, whereas the chances of someone seeing a traditional postcard or it arriving on time with postal service reliability are less certain. Modern paperless solutions like Archy provide customizable digital reminders automatically sent via text, which not only save paper but are also cost-effective, with potential to reduce no-shows by up to 20%


Digital marketing is rapidly replacing traditional methods like postcards as they become less effective in today's digital age. While sending postcards to patients with unused benefits or overdue recalls can still yield results, it can be costly.

Modern communication tools, such as those integrated into Archy and many third-party solutions, offer free and highly effective alternatives. For instance, Archy features a built-in email marketing tool that allows you to send emails to patients for various purposes, including promotions, overdue recalls, and unused benefits, all without additional cost. These paperless marketing solutions not only save money but are also more efficient in reaching patients in a digital world.

According to data from the direct mail company PostGrid, email marketing campaigns boast an impressive average return on investment (ROI) of 124%, while direct mail lags significantly behind with an average ROI of just 29%. In practical terms, this means you can generate more revenue from email marketing campaigns compared to postcards.

Lab Case Tracking:

Never lose track of a lab case again. Instead of relying on paper and binders, modern software like Archy simplifies lab case tracking with built-in digital tools that allow you to go paperless with your lab cases. Say goodbye to the era of misplaced order forms and paperwork chaos, and say hello to a smarter, more organized method for managing lab cases. Easily add your preferred labs for various procedures within Archy, complete with contact details and attached order forms. Store these order forms in the lab case tracking center and effortlessly monitor the progress of your labs, from sent to received.

Embracing paperless operations is not just a trend but a necessity for modern dental practices. With the right technology and approach, transitioning to a digital environment can enhance efficiency, security, patient satisfaction, and environmental sustainability. As we delve deeper into the digital age, dental practices stand to benefit immensely from this shift.

Andrew Bernstein

Andrew Bernstein