An interesting news on Vermont legislators, trying to go green with iPads–

According to this article, the Vermont house government operations committee is trying to reduce paper use by reading various bills on new Apple iPads. These bills are usually dozens and dozens of pages which have to be copied for dozens and dozens of people, most of which eventually winds up in waste baskets, after the legislative session.

Another benefit of going paperless outlined in the news is mobility. “I can take the bill with me wherever I go” – said a very satisfied Donna Sweaney, D-Windsor, Vt. Rep.

One important factor in deciding to go for devices such as the iPad is the price – $600 each. However, Vermont has justified this expenditure by showing that paper costs a lot too! According to their estimates, printing paperwork costs $450 for each of the state’s 180 lawmakers, for each legislative session from January to May. “A high and deep stack of boxes of paper in the Statehouse photocopying room may only last a month and a half.”

It is easy to draw a parallel between the situation at the Vermont Statehouse and agencies supporting people with developmental disabilities and home and community-based services (HCBS); they too, have to deal with enormous amounts of paper work. Only instead of bills, they got incident reports, individual service plans, case management notes, eligibility assessments, health records, management reports, attendance records, medication administration records and much more to worry about.

To be sure it is not sufficient to do these only once – there would have to be copies for reviewers, approvers, case manager, executive directors and so on.

People working for support providers have to do all these on top of their primary duty – helping people.
Developmental disabilities software services provided by Therap address all of that. They make documentation and reporting efficient, paperless and green. As far as mobility is concerned, Therap’s mobile apps that run on iPads, iPods and iPhones.

One thing to remember about iPads is that their effectiveness will depend on the software that will run on it. Does the software provide for document sharing? Does it allow for secure communications? Does it meet the security and privacy requirement such as HIPAA, HITECH and ARRA? These are some of the question one needs to consider before going for an electronic solution. Incidentally, Therap’s answer to all of the above is Yes.

The news underlines another major drawback in going paperless: the learning curve of the users and keeping up with technology updates. Interestingly, Therap users get a lot of support in these areas. As a part of its services Therap provides free training and support and related materials to ensure a smooth learning curve. On the other hand, users do not have to worry about technology updates; Therap helps them stay ahead of that by taking care of all upgrades at the application end. If a user needs to install any hardware/software at her end, (e.g., installing a new version of FireFox, Internet Explorer or PDF reader), Therap will advise them to do so. Also, all updates taking place in Therap incurs no additional cost to clients: it is all a part of Therap’s services.

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