5 Reasons Why Your Clinic Should Ditch the Paper and Take Your Practice Manuals Online

This article appeared first in the Hot Docs newsletter.

With accreditation fast approaching it is imperative to have good systems in place for your practice. This means having all of your documentation in one area. This not only creates an efficient practice workflow, but also helps you when training staff on your policies and procedures.

There are a myriad of reasons why electronic practice manuals are taking over the show and replacing physical hard copy manuals. And it is not just because they are less expensive to produce. Here are a few of the top reasons why online manuals are increasing in popularity.

The benefits of online practice manuals

1. Everything is stored in one place

With everything stored in one place it makes it much easier for staff to locate the files they need without having to dig around. This includes internal and external documents as both the resources you create, and the links you embed within them, are stored in the same place. Another benefit of having everything in one place is that it is easier to avoid duplicating documents by accident.

2. Easy to update content

Another big advantage of online practice manuals is being able to keep information up-to-date in real-time. As soon as an online document is changed and saved, the latest version shows up for anyone searching for it. This also means that when you need to make a change, you don’t have to replace the entire manual. You can simply make the amendment you need and the whole document is updated.

3. Management has control over content

Online practice manuals also provide management with control over their content. For instance, a manager can choose which sections of a document are accessible to which individuals. It means staff only see the information relevant to their role. This is good for privacy and also makes it easier for staff to find what they need because they only have in front of them what is relevant.

Online manuals also give managers the power to choose who can edit documents and who is limited to viewing documents only.

4. Keywords are searchable for training purposes

Most electronic platforms also have the benefit of searching for documents via a keyword. This is an extremely useful tool for training new staff because in just moments all the information relevant to a specific topic or keyword is highlighted. It also prevents ‘Chinese whispers’ in training because a new staff member is asked to follow the electronic version of the process, not a version of the process described by another staff member.

5. Tasks can be assigned to relevant staff

Some electronic practice manuals also have an integrated task management system that allows you to schedule tasks for your members of staff. The system can be set up for daily, weekly, monthly or annual tasks, which may include; validating sterilisers, batching Medicare vouchers, cleaning rooms etc.

Every single task or duty required from a staff member can be entered and reports run at the end of the day to ensure everything has been completed. This is a great risk management tool and a good way to ensure staff are completing all their relevant responsibilities.

What online practice manual software to use?
The two most common practice management software platforms for general practice are Standard Practice and Practice Hub. If you’re seeking a turn key solution, these options are ideal. Although it is worth noting that Standard Practice includes a task management system.

If you would prefer to start with a free option and transition to a more comprehensive platform down the track you may also want to consider Google Drive. Google Drive (see video below) is simple to use and easy for team members to access. Although, be warned, you’ll need to make sure you’re impeccably organised from the outset to avoid duplicating documents.

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