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Practically Speaking: Prioritizing Eliminating Paper

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About the Episode

Welcome to Practically Speaking, a show dedicated to highlighting practically genius ideas in less than 15 minutes. Get takeaways from Denise Davis’s Genius Spotlight episode on how Emory Healthcare eliminated paper processes across 250 locations. Lindsay and Ryan then dig into data from Formstack’s State of Digital Maturity report. This week, they cover how the most optimized organizations have replaced paper with modern, digital systems. Use this data to help your organization learn how to finally break free from the grasp of Big Paper.

Episode Highlights

Meet Our Guest

Our featured Genius Spotlight guest was Denise Davis, Corporate Director, Marketing Technology & Operations at Emory Healthcare. Over the last decade, she’s helped Emory eliminate paper, build better digital processes, and create experiences that lead to happier and healthier patients. Listen to her episode Why Paper Is Completely Impractical now.

Episode Transcript

Lindsay: Welcome to Practically Speaking the show from Formstack, where we dive deeper into the topics that matter to change makers. Like you I'm Lindsay

Ryan: and I'm Ryan. This episode is brought to you, but our stop big paper campaign. If you're not familiar with that, we in 2022 realize why the hell are we still fighting this thing called paper inside of organizations?

Why are customers still asked to fill out the same form over and over again? And we wanted to put a stop to that, and we rallied our customers, our partners around this campaign, and to create a rallying cry for eliminating paper.

Lindsay: It was funny because I left on maternity leave and then came back and all of a sudden there was this crazy campaign happening that was mind blowing because never have I seen us produce something that everyone could relate to everyone, no matter vertical industry role.

I think everyone has been stuck in that moment of why is this happening? Why am I standing here? Why do I need a pen, a pen, like who carries a pen anymore? I mean, I know my dad does, but like, I think that's one of millions of people I know who do not carry pen.

Ryan: And that's what we're here to talk about today on organizations that are still mired in paper, as well as the leading organizations that are killing big paper, Lindsay, you had a magical and great conversation with Denise Davis from Emory health last week.

What were your big takeaways from that conversation?

Lindsay: I think what she pointed out was the fact that once you realize how big of an issue and a problem paper is you can't unsee it and you have to start innovating. You have to start figuring out how do we shift, not only away from paper, but into whatever that next step process is.

And it's not something you have to do overnight. You can't do it overnight. Let's be real. You can't, especially if you're a larger organization, but. You can take tiny, small steps, identify little small wins. And once those start building on each other, you're gonna build something that's amazing, not only for your customers, but also for your employees as well.

Ryan: I think it's easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you start pulling the threads of realizing how interconnected most processes are, and if they are paper based, you realize, oh, well, this step in the process leads to this and it leads to this other area and you can quickly become overwhelmed. And I think if you took a whole process, look at it.

Yes, ideally you would fix it all, but I totally agree that, especially with smaller teams, you need to tackle the most urgent use cases, the most urgent pain. I loved what Denise said on that episode about it all comes down the scale and you can't possibly keep track of all the paper inside of an organization.

It's virtually impossible to report on, right?

Lindsay: Yeah, that reporting point is a really, really, really important one to think about. We have a customer at ACC, C U who one of their banking specialists actually did take some time to get some data on a paper process, which, you know, I should ask her about like, how did you actually do this?

Was it just tracking of when you mailed this paper out? And when this came back and you know, what are the details behind that quote unquote reporting. But she found that it took 28 days for a new commercial client to open an account, which is. That should never be the case for anything, whether it's a bank or a hospital or anything.

Like, I mean,

Ryan: just think about that. A customer is waiting 28 days to give you their money. Why would you not try to streamline that so they can give you their money quicker and it's better for them. It's better for you.

Lindsay: Insert taking my money meme.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah.

Lindsay: but what she did is she realized that paper was the issue.

It was those physical signatures. It was the mail, it was the faxing, it was all those things that sit on top of those paper processes. And then once she found forms, stack, you know, product plug right there, she cut out 26 days from that process, which is crazy. So just think about how magical that moment is now, where if I do wanna do business with this credit union, I can do it within two days and more in.

Leave, even less than that, who's gonna sit around for 20 days to open account somewhere, especially that millennial or a gen Z. No, no, no.

Ryan: Yeah. And just think of how many more customers are actually able to serve because of that too. Right. Because if it was taking 'em that many days to process it that's time that they're invested in that one customer versus getting it done within two days.

You can move on to other customers and helping them. So it's crazy to think about some of the processes that we see inside of organizations or we experience as customers. I know when I was going through a refining into my house last year, granted was COVID granted. We were trying to do everything virtually or contactless.

They still required me to come into the bank for that. And it was just to sign papers. It just didn't add up in my mind when we're trying to keep people at a safe distance and things that you can easily do from your home to require. A signature in person. And I know depending on the industry, there's some legalities behind that, but it's still mind-blowing that we still fight these broken processes or outdated processes that are many a times still tied to paper.

Lindsay: Well, and you bring up a point that often comes up with our customers and our leads and even our sales team of people questioning the legal validity of an electronic signature or a digital signature. And it's kind of funny to think about that. If you look up the laws and regulations actually.

Electronic signatures have carried the same legal weight as traditional paper based ones since the year 2000. That was 22 years ago. So it's funny how this idea that, oh, that's not a legal way to capture a signature and oh, like we can't do that and must be a wet signature on paper. And just like mine blows me though that people still wonder about, oh, is this a legal way to capture a signature?

Yes, it's fine. It's all as well.

Ryan: It is 2022. It is.  the other thing that I, I keep going back to the conversation with Denise, cuz it's so great. When you hear from organizations that are actually leading change and putting themselves in the organization in a much better spot. And the other thing that she talked a lot about is just the cost of lack of standardization and hygiene.

I know, she talked about very detailed, the difference between street and St on forms and how that was so painful because it created instead of 2000 locations in their database, it blew to, I think, 20,000 or something along those lines, it was just an astronomical. And that was just based on the individual, how people were keen into forms and then manually entering them into the database versus having that digitized.

It's a much better and clear experience for your patient or your customer as well as just, it helps you standardize more on the back end of it. Especially in healthcare. That's so important to have an understanding of your patient population.

Lindsay: Yeah. I don't know if she ever uses this term on the episode, but it brings up the idea of that data hygiene or data cleanliness, which both of those terms are atrocious.

So if someone has a better term, please tweet it at Formstack. Let me know on LinkedIn, but it's that point. And when we talk about paper processes, There's not that direct connection, maybe as much as if you're looking in your Salesforce data. And that is very much like a connection of that data, cleanest and data hygiene, but Denise talks a ton on the episode about how paper destroys your data hygiene.

And once you see that and identify that. It's such an easy case to then go forward and realize if we're not re-keying, if we're not pulling out handwriting, if we're not shuffling these papers back and forth, think about how much better your data can be. And then another thing she brought up was that personalization piece, which is crucial to businesses across.

All types of verticals, but being able to have that data in a timely manner, in a correct manner, in an automated manner, only further enables you to personalize those experiences. I think I talked about this on another episode, but being able to have your doctor know exactly what has been happening to you from the other doctors in your network and not having to literally get a fax.

Why did my doctor have to get a fax that's wild. Brian, who do you know that? Still faxes things, please.

Ryan: Oh, I wish I knew no one, but I feel like I have to do it multiple times per year. You don't want me to talk about that? It just so painful.

Lindsay: And then I look at the printer slash fax machine I have in my office still.

And I'm like, why do I have this? Why it's massive. It's ugly. It takes so much space.

Ryan: Ugh, Inc. Ink ink. Don't get me started on ink  it's so you have to sacrifice your first born child for ink that is out within one week, and then you have to give up something else for that next in cartridge. It's just outta control.

Lindsay: And then like you fix one and then the other one goes out and then it's just, yeah. It's. Mm, no, thank you.

Ryan: So I guess the question coming off of last week's episode is what's keeping you on paper. Why are you still caving to big paper? Join us on the.

Lindsay: Yes, please, please. Don't make me fill out another form, especially I have bad handwriting.

You don't, you can't even read my handwriting.

Ryan: if you don't eliminate paper, you can't be a fully automated workplace.

Lindsay: Actually. You really can't do anything, but you know,

Ryan: that's true. Hear a few data driven insights from the most optimized organizations around the topic of eliminating paper.

Lindsay: 97% have an initiative to eliminate paper.

A majority have been paperless for at least three years, which means organizations who have not started to reduce or eliminate paper, have a lot of catching up to do

Ryan: of those same optimized organizations. We found that 81% collect all signatures digitally. Our research shows that requiring physical signatures on documents is actually the main culprit for most organizations being mired and stuck in.

Lindsay: We also found that 73% of these organizations have digitized all of their forms and documents and a majority 83% to be exact of those who have digitized their forms and documents report it's for efficiency. So I think it's the right choice to make.

Ryan: I agree.

Lindsay: So let's stop big paper, right, Ryan, let's go.

Who's ready.

Ryan: I'm in. Okay. I'm in. Thanks so much for joining us on this episode of practically speaking tune in next week, to hear Lindsay talk to Amanda Wodzenski about removing technical roadblocks on the road. Innovation, check out the show notes for a link to the 2022 state of digital maturity report.

And as always you can find your next practically genius idea at

Hosted By
Lindsay McGuire
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Co-Hosted By
Ryan Greives
VP, Brand & Communications

Practically Genius is a show built for innovators championing digitization within their organization.

Hosts Lindsay McGuire and Ryan Greives host conversations with real-world innovators sharing stories of digital transformation while also providing helpful advice and insights to listeners.

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