Using PDF Files to Eliminate Most Print Jobs

The most common sheets printed in an optometry office are: insurance authorizations, patient prescriptions, referral letters, and test results.  Most practices that think they are "paperless" print these papers out for opticians and doctors to refer to, then they are scanned in when the patient checks out, and finally these papers are shredded.  This is inefficient and can be easily remedied by using PDFs (Portable Document Format) and a practice management software.

What most people don't understand is that whenever you have the ability to print, you have the ability to convert or "print" to a PDF format.  And when you have this ability to convert to a PDF you have the ability to make this file accessible to any computer in your office, eliminating the need for a paper copy.  Most good practice management software have a file management system to handle different types of files from Microsoft Word documents, to pictures/images and the common .PDF file.  Make use of that feature, and you do not need to print 50-80% of your daily print jobs.

How do I create (or "print") to a PDF?
There are a dozen of popular programs to handle the "printing" of PDFs, both paid and free:  Adobe Acrobat, Nitro PDF, PDF Xchange, PDFCreator and CutePDF to name a few.  These PDF “printers” are not actual printers, but an emulated printer that will take any printable item (i.e. web pages, emails, insurance remittance, pictures, etc...) and convert it into a PDF format file.  Some of you may already have a PDF creator installed and to make the most out of it you will need to figure out the best way to automate process of creating/printing of the PDFs and importing them into your practice management software.

If you don't currently use a PDF creation software, I highly recommend the free, high customizable, open-source PDFCreator program.

Step-by-Step instructions coming soon
Over the next few postings I will discuss customizing PDF Creator, step-by-step, to streamline with a couple of different programs, CrystalPM and Officemate.  And for you Officemate users, this may eliminate the need for the $5,000 ECR Vault module.
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