During the 2017 AHIMA Convention and Exhibit, I hosted MRO’s Product World presentation. During this session, myself along with four other panelists of Health Information Management (HIM) Directors reviewed the current environment in which HIM departments operate, and the associated challenges related to Protected Health Information (PHI) disclosure management. We then explored best practices for PHI disclosure management.
The four panelists in this session included Cindy Zak, Executive Director of Corporate HIM for Yale New Haven Health, Sandra Allen, Director of HIM for Ochsner Health System, Kyle McElroy, Assistant Vice President of HIM for IASIS Healthcare which is now a part of Steward Health, and Sheila Bowlds, Director of HIM and Hospital Coding for Henry Ford Health System. Below are some of the best practices that were discussed during the panel.
Implement Multiple Layers of Quality Assurance
Quality measures need to be highest priority to help ensure Release of Information (ROI) processing for healthcare organizations is compliant, secure and efficient. It is important that multiple levels of Quality Assurance (QA) are applied to both the request authorization, and the health information to be released.
According to panelist Kyle McElroy, AVP of HIM for IASIS Healthcare/Steward Health, MRO’s QA technology enabled his organization to improve accuracy and compliance, and safeguard their health system against breach. The technology he referenced, called IdentiScan®, uses optical character recognition (OCR) verification technology to examine each page in a medical record for patient-identifying information before PHI is released.
Utilize Remote ROI Staff and Services
ROI vendors with advanced capabilities will offer remote ROI services to manage the ROI process for a healthcare organization from end-to-end, remotely. Additionally, such remote services may also be used to provide supplemental audit support through batch logging audits, pulling electronic records and releasing records remotely.
According to Cindy Zak, Executive Director of Corporate HIM for Yale New Haven Health, one of the biggest challenges her organization faced with ROI was that their staff handled too many tasks and were not able to receive proper ongoing training. By taking advantage of MRO’s remote services and implementing MRO’s MROeLink® Epic integration technology, Zak said her organization was able to utilize MRO’s highly-trained ROI specialists to streamline processing efforts, plus reduce paper transactions, improve their billing process and attain a consistent disclosure process.
Sandra Allen, HIM Director for Ochsner Health System, echoed Zak’s remarks about the improvements her organization realized through implementing remote services and MRO’s technology for automating Release of Information. Read the case study to learn more.
Consider a Patient Advocate
A Patient Advocate can provide targeted assistance to patients experiencing confusion, frustration or perceived difficulty regarding the medical record request process. Having a patient advocate in place shows patients that you care about them and provides them with an extra set of helping hands. During the AHIMA presentation, we discussed MRO’s award-winning Patient Advocate Program that provides specialized support to patients, with a heightened sense of compassion and empathy, by identifying and resolving urgent issues, while also simplifying and facilitating navigation through the ROI process.
Provide Ongoing Training and Education
To stay ahead of breach threats, healthcare organizations need employees who are trained on the most up-to-date HIPAA regulations and ROI requirements at the federal, state and facility level. Investing in the hiring, training and education of your employees is critical for ensuring the best client experience.
MRO’s training and education programs are powered through MRO Academy, a rigorous and required online educational curriculum for all MRO employees. Additionally, the company can provide custom trainings on ROI policies and procedures to hospital HIM staff. During the panel presentation at AHIMA, Sheila Bowlds, Director of HIM and Hospital Coding for Henry Ford Health System, said that MRO provided education for her staff, which helped improve her organization’s ROI process tremendously.
Release of Information Best Practices
Other ROI best practices that were discussed include: electronic request receipt and distribution capabilities, the needs for requester notification processes, interface connectivity with an EMR (specifically Epic), ease of implementation and onboarding processes, reporting transparency and management responsiveness.
To download MRO’s Best Practices Worksheet, complete the form below.
For additional information about our Product World presentation at AHIMA, watch our video, which touches on additional topics we covered like the impact of payer audits to HIM and the OCR’s initiatives around patient access. This video also recaps some themes from the AHIMA Convention, and some commentary about my favorite parts of the annual event.