What May’s NHS changes mean for you

Software of Excellence explains why going paperless could be an opportunity for practices.

In less than four weeks’ time, NHS England will stop accepting paper claims for courses of dental treatment and all claims will have to be made electronically. Any practice with an NHS contract, that has not yet made provision for these changes needs a definite plan to ensure a smooth transition into this new ‘paperless’ era.

Creating a paperless NHS has long been a goal for the Department of Health, but next month’s switchover is one of the first concrete moves to bring this to fruition and dental practices have little option but to embrace the change.

Around 11% of UK practices are still reliant on paper records. The reasons are numerous and often down to personal preference, but whatever the reason, the May deadline has provided a perfect opportunity for reflection and action.

Behind the NHS’s ‘paperless’ shakeup

The 1 May discontinuation of FP17/FP170 paper submissions is part of the NHS’s commitment to a digital ambition: ‘Paperless by 2020’. The changes are focused around the use of paper in the health service as a whole, and the ambition is supported by a government commitment in Personalised Health and Care 2020 that: ‘All patient and care records will be digital, interoperable and real-time by 2020.’

The NIB (National Information Board) paper states: ‘The last 20 years have seen other industries use technology and digital channels to reduce costs whilst maintaining or improving customer experience. So far, the health and care system has not taken full advantage of these opportunities.’ Initial modelling indicates that technology could contribute to potential savings of between £8.3bn and £13.7bn a year by 2020/21.

Which paperless solution is right for you?

When it comes to seeking a solution to becoming a paperless practice, computerised practice management systems are an obvious first step. The options are many and varied, but the choice made needs to be one that adds value to your practice in terms of business efficiency and will ideally involve a software system that the team can learn easily and integrate quickly.

Before investing dentists and managers should ask themselves what they want from computerisation, in the knowledge that modern systems are more than just glorified appointment books. Online booking, automated recalls and reminders, updating forms via smartphones, confirmation of follow-up appointments and online payments are now all possible via practice management software. Some systems are altogether more sophisticated business tools, and in addition to the above can assist with automated marketing campaigns and provide trackable data that can be used to assess performance and drive business efficiency.

Dentrix Ascend Claim, by Software of Excellence, is an ‘entry level’ software which packs the most advanced clinical, front desk and business management capabilities into an easy and intuitive new user experience, ideal for those new to computerisation. Exact, also from Software of Excellence, on the other hand, is a complete business tool, which automates many of the mundane but essential management tasks that collectively determine the financial success of a dental practice. It includes a range of enhancements that allow dental practices to benefit from increased efficiency across an array of areas, freeing staff to spend time focused on patient care.

An opportunity for change

Even though the change to paperless claims is being forced upon dental practices, it does provide an opportunity for positive change. If you still need to make the move from paper in the coming weeks, you should make the move that’s most sensible and integrate a practice management system that has everything you need. The challenge for most practices is how to evaluate their current requirements and ensure that any future purchase incorporates all the necessary tools to bring benefits to the practice, its staff and patients.

For more information on how Software of Excellence can help your practice deal with electronic NHS claims, visit softwareofexcellence.co.uk/makeitsoeasy.

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