The Paperless Office – One Ream of Paper at a Time
I recently sat down (virtually, of course) with Jane Bray Sidler, Chief Financial Officer at Accelerated Claims, Inc. (ACI) and Sage Intacct Principal Solutions Consultant Linda Pinion to talk about the paperless office in healthcare. I was surprised to learn about the extent to which we still use paper in healthcare, and how reducing its use can be the secret to achieving visibility, control, and efficiency.
How much paper, you ask? According to Record Nation1, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Sadly, a typical employee spends 30-40% of their time looking for information kept in filing cabinets. And now, with many of us working from home, each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents and takes up to 9 sq. ft. of floor space. That’s a lot of room in your spare bedroom office! And although going paperless in healthcare has been a discussion topic since the early 2000s, the use of paper is still prolific today. According to InstaMed2, 87% of providers leverage paper and manual processes for collections2 and 81% of payers still deliver checks to providers.
So, what are the benefits of going paperless? Simply put, productivity is the most compelling benefit of going paperless in the workplace. Electronic documents are instantly and simultaneously available to everyone who needs them. There are fewer handoffs, less time lost in transit, reduced waiting times and less risk of loss or damage. Going electronic also offers the opportunity to rethink workflows to save even more time and improves teamwork because multiple people can work on documents at the same time.
Additionally, electronic documents are more secure than printed ones. Digital records can be rendered unreadable through encryption. They can also be secured against printing, copying and sharing. Access controls can specify viewing privileges to a fine level of granularity. Audit trails reveal who accessed what documents and when. In contrast, printed documents are only as secure as their proximity to a copy machine.
Imagine how much happier your time-pressed customers will be when you can satisfy their requests in seconds instead of hours, or when you can send copies of the documents they request instantly via email instead of by express courier.
Sage Intacct customer Hunter Health talked about the benefits they’ve experienced going paperless, which you can find in their case study. They eliminated tedious, manual tasks, automated monthly bank reconciliations, and streamlined reporting which allowed them to cut their month-end close from a full month to under 10 business days, saving around $100,000 in annual overhead costs, while supporting 40% growth with half the headcount.
The benefits of going paperless are clear, but how to execute a strategy may feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be complicated with the advance of technology, like Sage Intacct, that can help you eliminate paper-based or antiquated processes in favor for paperless, automatic workflows. As Linda explained in our webinar on going paperless, “One example is called Inner Entity Account Mapping. In multi-entity organizations, I'm managing multiple facilities; and in Sage Intacct, each one is an entity. There are times when I want to make transactions, financial transactions, across entities. And before I had Sage Intacct, the way that I would do this is by logging things on an Excel spreadsheet, or prior to that, logging things on a ledger pad. I was keeping track of those transactions that crossed entities. And then, at the end of the month or the end of the week, I would make journal entries for those inner-entity transactions. Now, if you have two facilities, two entities, it's manageable. If you have 20, it is a spaghetti bowl. It is a nightmare. But in Sage Intacct, you have the ability to set up the inner-entity relationships and the system will make the journal entries for you automatically.” Linda continued, reiterating that Sage Intacct customers no longer need to keep Excel spreadsheets or papers to keep track of those transactions. “You're not going to be required at the end of the month to go back and figure out what you did for the previous 30 days,” she explained. “We're really going to impact your time to close because this is going to be done automatically. As these transactions occur, we're going to create the journal entries and make those entries for you.”
One of the benefits of going paperless is increased control through security. Linda explained one way in which Sage Intacct increases control through the audit trail. Her example highlighted a vendor with a change of address. [Using Sage Intacct] you can see exactly when and who made a change, as well as the before and after.”
Jane added insight into the policies and procedures that ACI has in place using Sage Intacct, “Well, we definitely have put in controls for spending above a certain threshold and dollar amount that has to go through an approval process. That's also helped us from a visibility [standpoint] with our operations team for the operations managers to be able to approve spend within their departments without having to come to me or anyone else directly to get approval. And that's definitely helped across the board. Also, it's curtailed some [excess] spending that was happening. People have to actually go through a process now where they didn't before so that's really reduced a lot of the spending that should not have happened.”
So, not only is going paperless good for the environment and your spare bedroom office, it’s also a great way to improve your business. To learn more about going paperless, please watch our Webinar, The Paperless Office is Finally Here!, or read our eBook The Secret to Achieving Visibility, Control, and Efficiency in Healthcare. For more information on how Hunter Heath went paperless, please read the case study.
1 – Record Nations: https://www.recordnations.com/2016/02/how-much-paper-is-used-in-one-day/
Brian is the Director of Healthcare Industry Marketing at Sage Intacct
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