Paper Forms to Digital Forms


  1. I think you will always find it necessary to scan in SOME pieces of paper (for example, a letter from another non-paperless dentist concerning a mutual pt). I think the trick is to minimize your scanning. (don’t let your staff get into the habit of scanning useless things like EOB’s! Giant time-waster!)


    1. Scanning rules:

                                                               i.      If you will never need it again, toss it

                                                             ii.      If you probably won’t need it again (like a receipt for the IRS or an EOB), file it away on the paper it is already on; usually filed by month; we actually do this with HIPAA forms rather than scan them; if the HIPAA Police ever show up, they can find all the forms they want in our big stack, sorted by date.

                                                            iii.      If you are going to need to see it again, such as a signed medical hx form or tx acceptance, by all means scan it (or use DentForms).

                                                           iv.      If it is information you use repeatedly, such as a list of medications or medical precautions, make sure it is “computerized” (ie, readable and preferably searchable by the computer) as well as scanned. Dentrix does an ok job with “medical alerts” but has no place for medications. We have a “quick letter” word document that we update and change by “copy and paste” from our previous charting, then save in Dentrix as a procedure. This is the way we update our medical hx’s, medications, tx sequencing, problem list, summary of pt’s tx, etc. Fairly quick, works well, and keeps all of us “on the same page” regarding the pt.

  1. To the best of my knowledge, Dentrix still does not allow a good way to handle things such as medical hx, HIPAA forms, consents, tx plan acceptance, etc. (If you find such a way using Dentrix, please let me know!). You can do some “copy and paste” from a Word or other document into Dentrix Document Center but this does not solve the problem of signatures. We are currently in the process of switching to MedicTalk’s DentForms software (;  we have no financial interest in the company) and this allows us to custom generate things like med hx or even “pull” tx plans from within Dentrix, then have the pt sign the electronic form which is then permanently saved. This is the only truly “paperless” way I have seen to handle a variety of different, customized forms.
  2. The EASIEST and perhaps most practical way of doing this, short of using DentForms, is to simply scan the signed paper forms you now use into your image management software database, then either give the paper “original” to the patient or shred it. If you already have digital x-ray, that software most likely has a TWAIN interface that will allow you to easily connect to almost any scanner on the market. We have been doing this for about 10 years and it works very well. I don’t see a need to use a separate database, such as Dentrix Document Center, for this. Why complicate your life?

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