Outsourced medical record collection provides impressive results at University of the Nebraska Medical Center.
Obtaining medical records for transplant candidates is a time consuming, arduous task that can delay the patient evaluation process. The manager of the Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Office at the University of Nebraska Medical Center calls it “painful.” In fact, it would often take a month to gather all the medical records for some patients.”
It didn’t matter if we called again and again, we would still have trouble getting the records quickly,” she stated. The bottom line, she continues, is the transplant program will not see a referred patient for the initial consultation unless all the medical records are received and reviewed. “If, for example, we have a candidate with a prior cancer history, then we want to send that to the Tumor Registry first for their opinion.”
Help for staff shortfall
She hired a 0.8 FTE to help schedule the pre-transplant process. “The FTE was an organizer who tracked the records into the program,” Miller adds, “but left the position after one year.”
Fortunately she had already begun to investigate a new solution – an electronic medical records management service. Her interest was peaked when she came upon an abstract describing the use of eHealth Connect® Record Retrieval from eHealth Technologies™ at another transplant
Her supervisor, Executive Director, Solid Organ Transplantation, returned from a national transplant meeting where she met with eHealth Technologies. After learning about eHealth Connect Record Retrieval, she supported the implementation of the service at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Positive results with eHealth Connect
The center has been using the eHealth Connect Record Retrieval Service to collect all external patient information since June 2007. The transplant coordinators make one request to eHealth Technologies customer support team, who then collects, digitizes, organizes, stores and secures the medical records for clinical viewing. The records are then sent to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and stored on a shared drive for the Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Department. Future plans include scanning the records into the electronic medical record.
“I was skeptical at first about how quickly eHealth Technologies would receive the records release from some hospitals that we deal with,” she says. “But, they’ve been more successful than we were.”
The center now receives records much quicker – on average within five days and in some cases, as soon as one to two days after the request. “This really eliminates a huge delay up front,” she notes.
She also finds eHealth Technologies very knowledgeable about HIPAA patient privacy rights and policies for medical records release. “Many hospitals have their own interpretation of HIPAA. eHealth Technologies staff has received a lot of education on this topic and they know exactly what to say to guide these facilities.”
The results of eHealth Connect Intelligent Record Retrieval are apparent throughout the transplant center. In the pre-transplant area, she has seen staff productivity increase to the point that they are caught up and all the charts are back to scheduling. “We’ve made some other changes besides implementing eHealth Connect Record Retrieval Service, but the net result is the evaluation period has decreased from four months to two weeks.”
“The evaluation period has decreased from four months to two weeks.”
Manager, Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Office
More consistent, less stressful
For the University of Nebraska Medical Center Transplant Program, retrieving medical records is a more consistent, less stressful and seamless process. “It is almost like eHealth Technologies is an extension of our department.” She credits the company with helping to improve the efficiency of the process as well.
Prior to implementation of the service, the center obtained a five-year medical history for each patient. “It was too hard to go back later and get records that we just got everything, even if we really didn’t need it,” she adds. eHealth Technologies has helped the transplant program tailor requests to the patient condition, further streamlining and reducing the time it takes to receive the records.
Yet the most notable result is the impact on patient care. “So many of these patients have comorbidities that if they wait too long, they may no longer be candidates,” she explains. “There is no doubt the sooner these patients receive their transplant, the better their outcome.”