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Studies in Success: Sharon Regional

Sharon Regional Taps Just Associates' IDManage® to Maintain a Pristine MPI

 

Challenge: 

To prepare for the full deployment of a $13 million electronic health record (EHR) system, Sharon Regional Health System commissioned Just Associates to conduct a comprehensive Master Patient Index (MPI) Clean-Up. While that effort had a significant impact on the quality of its MPI, it was just the beginning. Next, the organization faced the daunting task of trying to maintain a clean MPI through manual processes.

Solutions: 

By utilizing IDManage® from Just Associates, Sharon Regional is able to leverage advanced technology and specially trained professionals for ongoing duplicate resolution to maintain a clean MPI. Remote technologies link directly into Sharon Regional's MPI system and enable Just Associates to manage cleanup activities transparently in the background. IDManage also provides comprehensive business intelligence tools that allow Sharon Regional to pinpoint where duplicates are entering the system and deploying targeted education and training.

Services Provided:

  • MPI Clean-Up
  • IDManage, Outsourced MPI Management


Results: 

By leveraging the cost efficiencies and expertise of an outsourced provider, Sharon Region was able to address current and future duplicate patient record issues. In fact, 330 potential duplicates were identified and addressed within just four months of using Just Associates' IDManage service. With Just Associates and IDManage providing 24/7 coverage to continuously address data integrity issues, Sharon Regional is able to focus its resources on strategies that advance its care-quality and patient-safety goals. It also helps alleviate the staffing headaches associated with maintaining productivity levels despite staff turnover and planned and unplanned leave time.

Sharon Regional Health System: 

Based in Sharon, Penn., Sharon Regional Health System is a comprehensive health system consisting of a 241-bed hospital, 17 satellite centers and more than 1,750 employees. A major provider of medical services for more than 110 years, Sharon Regional is focused on providing high-quality patient care, as evidenced by its many quality awards and recognitions. 

A major resource for the Northwest Pennsylvania–Northeast Ohio region, Sharon Regional has experienced significant growth in medical services and number of patients served. In 2011, its outpatient revenues grew by 6.2%, while net patient revenue increased by 4%. To keep pace with that growth, Sharon Regional is currently in the final stages of implementing a $13 million EHR system throughout all inpatient and outpatient services and employed-physician offices.

In preparation for that implementation, Sharon Regional brought in Just Associates to conduct a comprehensive MPI Clean-Up. While the cleanup eliminated existing duplicate records from the system, Sharon Regional still faced a dilemma — how to maintain that clean MPI.

"We needed a way to continuously identify and correct duplicates before they created confusion among our clinical staff or impacted care," said Barb McKee, Director of Business Office Operations, Sharon Regional Health System.

Resource and Process Challenges: 

Sharon Regional faced several obstacles to maintaining a clean MPI. Like many hospitals, the health system was particularly challenged by limited resources to achieve the necessary level of efficiency in the MPI management process to eliminate existing issues and reduce the likelihood future ones will develop.

"Multiple registration points made it difficult to pinpoint when and where potential errors entered the system, and staffing limitations made it difficult to quickly evaluate and reconcile possible duplicates once they were identified," said McKee. 

As a result, there was no good way to identify when additional training was needed or where policies and procedures might need revisiting. This was especially true of those departments that input registrations infrequently and therefore may not understand the importance of reviewing the MPI before creating a new patient record.

Finally, like many facilities, the health system had an entirely manual MPI management process. In addition to being inefficient, manual processes are also prone to human error. In fact, many hospitals use rudimentary reports as their primary tool for identifying duplicates and spreadsheets for tracking them. The process itself is time-consuming and labor-intensive, requiring dedicated human resources and special expertise that few hospitals can retain.

In the case of Sharon Regional, manual processes also made it difficult to focus on long-term MPI integrity, as the few resources available for to ongoing maintenance were focused on identification, validation and reconciliation of duplicates.

Limited resources prevented Sharon Regional from employing a more efficient technology-enabled "assembly line" approach to validating and reconciling duplicates — one that not only leverages individual strengths but also technologies that drive more rapid reconciliation by enabling the simultaneous viewing of hundreds of pairs of potential duplicates.

Declining reimbursements and tightening budgets made it increasingly difficult to dedicate sufficient staff levels to fully and effectively manage the MPI. Further, it was a struggle to maintain productivity levels due to staff turnover, planned and unplanned leave time and insufficient training.

"These are the reasons why, when we heard about IDManage, we knew immediately it was the long-term solution we needed," said McKee.

IDManage The Outsourced Solution:

With its MPI cleared of duplicates, Sharon Regional recognized that it was the ideal time to implement changes to ensure that the MPI stayed that way. Outsourcing was the natural solution. It ensured that duplicates and overlays would be identified and quickly eliminated. More importantly, it freed internal resources for longer-term strategies that would improve care quality and safety.

The health system engaged Just Associates' IDManage service for ongoing duplicate resolution. It leverages remote technologies to link directly into Sharon Regional's MPI system, which eliminates internal workflow disruptions and allows management activities to take place transparently in the background.

When a potential duplicate or other data integrity issue is identified, a report is automatically generated and transmitted to IDManage for review by Just Associates' specially trained, highly experienced professionals, who determine the appropriate course of action. Possible duplicates are validated and, if confirmed, reconciled directly in Sharon Regional's system. Though rare, in cases where a potential duplicate cannot be validated it is returned to Sharon Regional's staff for resolution.

IDManage also provides Sharon Regional with secure access to real-time information and a variety of reporting tools and analytics that help pinpoint problem areas to reduce the number of duplicates being created. This array of business intelligence tools, coupled with expert data analysis, allows the health system to identify where a duplicate was created and by whom, which helps determine where additional training is required. It also identifies the types of errors registrars are committing, which lets Sharon Regional customize training programs to strengthen specific areas of weakness in individual departments. 

Multiple Benefits:

In the first four months, 330 potential duplicates were identified. Of those, just four could not be resolved by Just Associates and IDManage. 

The peace of mind that comes from knowing that IDManage is continuously working in the background to handle any data integrity issues that may arise before they impact patient care and safety is one of the greatest benefits Sharon Regional has realized from outsourcing its MPI management.

"Part of what drove our decision to use IDManage was the uncertainty about what was out there and where these errors were coming from because there were so many points of registration," said McKee. "I can relax now that I know Just Associates and IDManage are handling ongoing MPI cleanup." 

The business intelligence available through IDManage has also proven to be invaluable in multiple ways. For example, the system at one point identified an unusually large number of registration errors within a one-week period. The analysis determined that all the errors were generated in the same department.

A brief investigation revealed that individuals who were unfamiliar with the registration process were attempting to save time by simply creating new records for every patient versus first searching the MPI for existing ones. 

"By providing additional training and education, the number of registration errors originating from the department has dropped to single digits," said McKee. "Without IDManage, I don't know how long those errors would have been out there or how many would have been created before the problem was identified. IDManage nipped that really quickly."

In fact, McKee says the robust dashboard is one of the most useful features of IDManage because of the highly detailed information it provides on patient type, where information enters the system and who enters it. This has allowed Sharon Regional to provide targeted education and training to eliminate as much of the human error as possible from the process.

By keeping the process clean and ensuring anyone with access to the registration system is properly trained, the number of duplicates within the MPI at any point in time continues to decline. This has, in turn, enhanced care and outcomes.

"There is a quality aspect to data integrity," said McKee. "Improved safety and quality comes from properly managing the MPI to ensure it remains duplicate free. That is what IDManage does for Sharon Regional."

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