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Making a move towards paperless communication and storage

05/07/2024 minute read Health and Care

In an era where both financial and environmental sustainability are paramount, going paperless in healthcare presents an opportunity to address both concerns.  Hundreds of millions of printed documents are still being posted by the NHS every year, often containing multiple pieces of paper (plus the envelope they are sent in), resulting in an excessive amount of paper waste and a large expenditure.  

The digital revolution has transformed many industries, and healthcare is no exception, with the advancement of digital tools the shift towards a paperless environment is gaining momentum. This transition is not merely about adopting new technology; it's about creating a more efficient, cost-effective, and secure healthcare system.

Key Benefits of Going Paperless in Healthcare

1. Cost Saving

One of the most compelling reasons to go paperless is the potential for significant cost savings. Each physical paper document sent cost money for paper and postage, this might be a minimum cost for one document, but when you’re talking about millions this cost skyrockets.

Reduced Printing Costs
Healthcare organisations spend thousands annually on printing, paper, and related supplies. By moving to electronic document transfer, these costs can be dramatically reduced.
Reduce Postage Fees
In April 2024, Royal Mail hiked the price of first-class stamps to £1.35, while second class stamps rose by 11 per cent, from 75p to 85p, by sending a document electronically this cost is drastically reduced. 
Less Physical Storage
Storing paper records requires physical space, which comes with its own expenses. Digital records eliminate the need for filing cabinets, storage rooms, and off-site storage facilities.
Lower Labour Costs
Managing paper records is time-consuming. Staff must spend time filing, retrieving, and organising documents. Electronic records streamline these processes, freeing up staff to focus on more critical tasks.

2. Time Efficiency

Time is a precious resource in healthcare, and going paperless can help save it in several ways:

Instant Access to Information
Digital records can be accessed instantly from any location, reducing the time spent searching for physical files. It also means patients can get their information quicker, resulting in a better care experience.
Simplified Collaboration
Healthcare professionals can easily share electronic documents with colleagues, improving collaboration and decision-making.
Automated Workflows
Electronic systems can automate routine tasks, such as appointment reminders and billing, further saving time.

3. Environmental Impact

For eco-conscious consumers and organisations, the environmental benefits of going paperless are substantial:
Less Paper Waste
Reducing paper usage helps decrease deforestation and lowers the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Digital documents eliminate the need for transportation and physical storage, cutting down on carbon emissions associated with these activities.
Sustainable Practices
Adopting paperless solutions is a step towards more sustainable business practices, aligning with broader environmental goals.

For example, in 2020 the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero. The move away from paper towards digital solutions will be a key part of their Net Zero strategy.

4. Enhanced Security

Protecting patient information is a top priority in healthcare, and electronic document transfer offers superior security compared to paper records:

Data Encryption Digital records can be encrypted, making them much harder for unauthorised individuals to access.
Access Controls Electronic systems allow for precise control over who can access specific information, ensuring that sensitive data is only viewed by authorised personnel.
Audit Trails
Digital records can maintain detailed audit trails, providing a clear record of who accessed or modified information, and when.

How can you make the switch to paperless communication?

The right software solution can significantly ease the burden of reducing paper waste. By transitioning from paper-based processes to electronic systems, clinical documents such as patient records, prescriptions, and test results can be efficiently sent and stored digitally.

This not only streamlines workflow but also contributes to sustainability efforts by minimising the reliance on physical paper. Effective electronic document sending and management systems ensure secure delivery, a full document audit trail and easily accessible and secure storage, empowering healthcare providers to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

Our Clinical Document Transfer solution, Docman Connect is designed to assist in this transformation by transferring documents and data securely to GPs electronically, in line with stringent NHS standards, in 2023 alone almost 59 million documents were sent via Docman Connect.

Advanced’s Clinical Document Transfer solution is available to all healthcare providers, enabling seamless and secure communication across various medical facilities. By incorporating Docman Connect, healthcare providers can significantly minimise their reliance on paper, streamlining their document management processes and enhancing overall operational efficiency. To watch our latest Docman Connect webinar on demand, visit: Save Money, Time and Increase ROI with Clinical Document Workflow (

For primary care organisations, our GP document workflow solution, Docman GP helps practices effectively process, share, and store electronic documents, ensuring that sensitive information is handled securely and in compliance with vital health regulations. By adopting Docman GP, GP practices can reduce administrative burdens and focus more on patient care, while also contributing to a more environmentally friendly healthcare system.

To find out more about reducing your paper usage at your healthcare organisation, visit our Healthcare home page to discover more about OneAdvanced, who we are, and how we can help your organisation.