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The electronic, ‘paperless’ medical office; has it arrived?

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Modern information technology offers efficiencies in medical practice, with a reduction in secretarial time in maintaining, filing and retrieving the paper medical record. Electronic requesting of investigations allows tracking of outstanding results. Less storage space is required and telephone calls from pharmacies, pathology and medical imaging service providers to clarify the hand‐written request are abolished. Voice recognition software reduces secretarial typing time per letter. These combined benefits can lead to significantly reduced costs and improved patient care. The paperless office is possible, but requires commitment and training of all staff; it is preferable but not absolutely essential that at least one member of the practice has an interest and some expertise in computers. More importantly, back‐up from information technology providers and back‐up of the electronic data are absolutely crucial and a paperless environment should not be considered without them.

Keywords: ambulatory care information system; computer; computerized medical record system; database management system; information technology; medical record; office automation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Medical Resource Unit, Barwon Health, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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