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Ditching the Paper Forms and Pursuing Digital

Ditching the Paper Forms and Pursuing Digital

Dental practices are increasingly ditching the traditional pen-and-paper method in favor of digital forms. This transition to digital forms isn't just a trend - it's a revolution that's transforming the way dental practices function. NexHealth State Of Dental reports 63% of respondents said digital forms increase patient satisfaction. It is no surprise that digital forms are more convenient, efficient, and accurate.

Dental records serve as a comprehensive record of a patient's dental history, which is vital in delivering effective treatment. But, managing these records is not an easy task. That's why dental practices are turning to digital forms as a solution.

Paper vs. Digital Forms

Paper Forms

Paper forms have been the go-to for dental practices for years. The traditional paper form is typically handed to the patient upon arrival, and they are asked to fill out the form with their personal information, medical history, and other relevant details. The benefits of using paper forms are that they are easy to use, readily available, and do not require any special equipment. Additionally, patients may find it easier to write down their information than typing it.

However, paper forms come with a few drawbacks. The main drawback is that they can be easily lost or damaged, which can cause inconvenience to both the patient and the dental practice. Furthermore, filling out a paper form can be time-consuming, especially if the patient has a complicated medical history.

Digital Forms

Digital forms have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Digital forms are forms that patients can fill out and submit online, either on their own devices or in-office on a tablet. The benefits of digital forms are that they can save time, reduce paper usage, and are easily accessible. Additionally, patients can complete them in the comfort of their own homes, saving time and reducing the amount of time they have to spend in the office.

However, digital forms also come with their own set of drawbacks. For example, they may require additional equipment, such as tablets or computers, which can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Additionally, some patients may not be comfortable with technology and may find it difficult to fill out digital forms.

Why Practices Are Shifting to Digital Forms

Digital forms offer several advantages over traditional paper forms. For starters, digital forms are accessible from anywhere at any time. This means that patient records can be accessed remotely, enabling dentists to view the records even when they're not in the office. Digital forms are also more efficient, saving time and resources by eliminating the need for paper records. Additionally, digital forms are more accurate as there is no possibility of misreading or misplacing the records. Finally, digital forms are more secure, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or theft of patient records.

How Digital Forms Improve Practice Workflow

The transition to digital forms is also improving dental practice workflow. For example, patient registration is made easier and faster with digital forms. Patients can fill out their information online or through a tablet in the office, which saves time and improves the patient experience. With digital forms, data management and organization are also made more efficient. Records can be retrieved quickly, and the accuracy of the records is improved. Digital forms also help dental practices to be HIPAA compliant, ensuring that patient privacy is protected, and security measures are in place.

Implementing Digital Forms

While the benefits of digital forms are clear, implementing them isn't always easy. Staff training and software requirements are just some of the challenges that dental practices may face. However, there are successful implementation strategies that practices can use to make the transition easier.

  1. Start small: When transitioning to digital forms, it's important to start small. This means that dental practices should begin with a limited number of forms and gradually add more as they become comfortable with the new system. Starting small allows the staff to get used to the new software, processes, and workflows without feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Utilize software providers: Dental practices can benefit from using software providers that specialize in digital forms. These providers can help with the design and customization of the forms, integration with existing systems, and staff training. They can also provide ongoing support and assistance, which is crucial in the early stages of the transition.
  3. Gradual integration: Dental practices should not rush to implement digital forms all at once. Instead, they should gradually integrate the new system into their existing workflow. This means starting with a small number of forms and gradually increasing the number over time. Dental practices can also consider piloting the new system with a small group of patients before rolling it out to the entire practice.
  4. Staff training: Proper staff training is crucial for the successful implementation of digital forms. The staff needs to be familiar with the new system, understand how to use it, and be comfortable with the new processes. Training should be ongoing and include all staff members, including administrative staff, hygienists, and dentists.
  5. Hardware and software requirements: Dental practices need to ensure that they have the necessary hardware and software to support the new digital forms system. This includes computers, tablets, and other devices that are compatible with the software. Dental practices should also ensure that their IT infrastructure can support the new system.


Digital forms are revolutionizing the way dental practices function. With benefits such as accessibility, efficiency, accuracy, and security, it's clear why more practices are making the shift. This trend is only going to grow, and it's up to dental practices to embrace the change and make the most of the benefits that digital forms offer.

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