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Switching From Paper Charting To EMR: Top 5 Things To Know

Switching From Paper Charting To EMR: Top 5 Things To Know

We get a lot of questions from ND’s who have been paper charting for years and have accumulated storage rooms full of filing cabinets.  They are overwhelmed by the idea of using an EMR because they have no idea how to make the switch.

They ask questions like: What happens to all those paper charts?  How much time do I have to invest in this switch?  I know I have to change something, but what, and how?  Do I need to learn how to chart all over again?

Here are our top 5 responses to NDs from a paper charting background who are looking to switch to an EMR:

1. No, you do not have to scan and import all your paper charts!

Switching to an EMR is a fluid change in the way you run your practice.  Yes, there is some setup time, however this time is minimal when using an EMR like SmartND.  When going from paper to EMR, the idea is to determine what is your current active patient list.  Is it 50 patients, 100 patients, 500 patients?  Figure out who these active patients are, and pull their charts over the past year.  Store these charts close-by, in your clinic.  This will be your patient reference material.  The next time that patient comes in, get their paper charts and keep them on hand, but use your SmartND account to create their new chart for that visit.  As this patient sees you over the next several months, you will find that you need their paper reference materials less and less, and eventually, over the course of a year, you can move these paper charts in with your older archive.  There is no way to completely get rid of that old archive of paper charts, nor do you want to – you’re required to keep all of them for 7 years or more.  However, you no longer need to refer to them as you’ll have most of the information you need on a patient in your EMR; and you definitely do not want to spend countless hours scanning all those charts for import into an EMR.

2. Yes, using an EMR will save you time; and LOTS of it.  

There are a lot of advantages to using an EMR, but one of the biggest advantages over paper charting is the time savings.  Even if you did not consider the time-saving tools that are built into SmartND, searching for information in an electronic chart is vastly simpler than poring over hundreds and hundreds of pages of paper charts.  Throw in the SmartND features like Smart Lists, Smart Templates, advanced SOAP sections, saved Protocols, etc.  and you’ll be taking back several hours every week that would otherwise be lost to your paper charting process.

3. Overall success will increase when using an EMR.

Your patients are coming to you to get healthier.  They need your expertise and your advice on how to do this.  In order for you to help your patients, you need data.  You need to know about their symptoms, health conditions, progress, vitals over time, etc.  You can best help your patients if you have the information you need in order to better assess their condition and their improvement.  The patient management tools and statistical reporting available in SmartND will give you a completely different perspective than what is available with paper charting. You can generate graphs that show a patient’s weight loss over the last 6 months while following your treatment plan, or their blood pressure change before and after treatment. You can run stats and find out which diagnosis do you use most often, or which supplements do you sell most often…  Perhaps this information will reveal to you a specialty you did not realize, or allow you to focus your marketing strategies.  You can determine which patients have not seen you in a while and send out marketing initiatives.  You can run reports to get an idea of the success rate of certain supplements when used to treat certain diagnoses.  EMR’s put all your clinic’s data at your fingertips.  With an EMR like SmartND, you can turn all your hard work over the years into a powerful tool for understanding your practice and your patients, and increasing your success in treating your patients and growing your practice.

4. Yes, your data is safe and secure.

SmartND uses modern security technologies to ensure that all data entered into our system is safe, private, and secure.  We have servers in Toronto and Vancouver that host all the data from your accounts, and there are daily backups to prevent data loss.  The servers are protected by 24/7 security and are located in secure buildings.  The distance between them also means that a natural disaster in one area will not affect data in the other area.  Every chart you work on saves up to two hundred backups over time, so that if you accidentally lose information while charting, we can almost always get it back.  While you are charting, our system saves your progress every 5 seconds.  In short, we have taken every precaution we can think of to ensure that your data is safe and reliable, and we keep adding more and more security features as we progress.

5. Yes you can share charts with other NDs.

If you are collaborating with another ND in the treatment of a patient, then you can share a patient’s chart with that ND.  SmartND allows options of sharing all charts between all practitioners of a particular clinic, or sharing charts on a chart-by-chart basis.  This is all done within the system itself, so there is no need to use email to share charts.  If you want to share a chart with an ND that is not a member of SmartND, you can do that as well.


If you are thinking about switching from paper charting to EMR, now is the best time to do it.  The longer you wait, the more your paper charts will keep piling up.  Making the switch is a lot easier than you think, and you’ll be happy you did.  You can easily get SmartND setup for your practice within a day and start using it right away.  If you need help with your setup, contact us, and we can arrange a personal demo and support for setup.