Paper Has Healthcare Spoiled

Posted on March 16, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As I was thinking about the radical invention of something called paper, I realized that we’re really quite spoiled by paper and its amazing benefits. Let me just list a few of the radical benefits that paper provides a doctor using a paper chart.

* Immediate response to pen – Yes, tablets and styluses are getting better, but there’s nothing like the instant satisfaction of putting pen to paper and seeing the ink spread across the page. Sure, the pen runs out every once in a while, but that’s generally pretty rare. A nice pen just flat out works with an immediate response in the exact location you want something written. There’s no calibration needed. You just pick it up and start using it. It’s beautiful.

* Never a delay when flipping pages – Think about the beauty of paper’s ability to flip between pages. When I turn a page I get an immediate response to that flip and see the desired result (a new page) immediately. I’ve never seen an hour glass when flipping between pieces of paper. I’ve never had a page partially load and need to refresh. Paper has the unique ability to flip pages with instant display of the next page.

* Instant On – Speaking of instant, paper charts are the true epitome of “Instant On” technology. Computers are getting better at making boot times fast and computers turning on quickly. However, anyone who regularly uses a computer knows all the screens you have to see as your computer boots up. A paper chart is beautiful in its ability to immediately be available for you to work. It has true Instant On capabilities.

* No training needed – Ok, maybe this is a stretch of a title. There is no training needed for paper, because since elementary school we’ve been taught how to write with pen and paper. The ability to write is near universal thanks to training in doing so since we were children. You hand a new doctor some pen and paper and they can start documenting their visit. No login or password required. No needing to know how to access Citrix so you can open the chart. Just hand them the chart and a pen and they start charting.

* Multiple page view – The display area of paper is so expandable. If you need a dual monitor dual page view of the paper you just slide it open. If you need a quad page view, you’re only limited by the amount of desk space you have or you could even move to the floor if needed. This easy to manage multi page view is powerful since it’s quite often that you want to see multiple pages at the same time.

* Fast page switching – Take a paper chart and watch how fast you can switch back and forth between pages of the chart. I call this “thumb in chart mode.” With 5 fingers you can even instantly “bookmark” up to 5 locations in the chart which you can switch to and back very quickly with zero load time.

* Flexible to an infinite number of documentation methods – Does paper support the SOAP format? Yes! Does it support every specialty? Yes! Paper has the ability to morph to every medical specialty’s documentation needs. In fact, it can easily be adapted to a different documentation method for every doctor within every specialty. It’s designed so flexibly that there really are an infinite number of documentation methods it can support.

* Easily supports text and graphic input – Oh the beauty of paper. In the same input area you can easily add text or graphics. In fact you can easily link the text and graphics in whatever way you see fit. Some might prefer to write male or others might prefer to draw the universal symbol for male. It’s completely extensible to text or graphics in every area of the page.

I’m sure there are other areas where paper spoils us that I’ve missed, but this is a good start. Hopefully you’ll add any areas I’ve missed in the comments.

Watch for future posts in my “Healthcare Spoiled” series.