Experience

East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) in Eastern Louisiana is a 420-bed hospital, with a regional cancer center, cardiovascular services, radiology and interventional care, ambulatory services and 23 physician practices.

EJGH’s Health Information Management (HIM) Director, Collette Zeiour, RHIA, saw the need for a strong, standardized protected health information (PHI) disclosure management strategy and release of information (ROI) process across all departments and facilities. MRO’s ROI Online® web-based platform was selected for EGJH’s enterprise-wide PHI disclosure management, which began with the organization’s HIM, radiology and billing departments, adding a cardiology clinic several months later. The largest phase of the project, however, came when EJGH integrated its 23 physician practices into its enterprise-wide PHI disclosure process and policies.

“Key to our decision to unite the hospital departments’ and clinics’ PHI disclosure management was our primary goal of having one consistent, standardized ROI process throughout the organization,” Zeiour said. “We were committed to driving compliance by having all of our locations disclose PHI the same way.”

Given EJGH’s fast-paced growth, getting a large number of physician practices to buy into the enterprise concept and adapt to new processes was a large-scale effort.

Solution

As EJGH investigated the physician practices in late 2011, it found a variety of ROI request processes as well as disparate technology systems and vendors, with some locations still using paper to process each request. When EJGH implemented MRO’s ROI Online, the platform enabled staff across the hospital, as well as in the practices, to submit, track and verify ROI requests electronically, providing a new level of visibility and efficiency.

To further streamline, many duties were outsourced to MRO, such as invoicing, mailing, sending notifications to requesters, generating correspondence and fulfilling other clerical duties.

With approximately 30,000 requests for information each year, EJGH also called on MRO’s PHI disclosure experts to perform quality assurance (QA) checks involving both human intervention and optical character recognition (OCR) software that scans every medical record. With MRO’s team and technology in place, EJGH is provided with extra assurance that the organization can remain compliant and error-free.

Results

Initially, some physician practices were reluctant to move to the centralized strategy because they had to relinquish control and learn the new online platform. Practice managers, however, quickly became vocal in their appreciation, indicating their satisfaction that they are maintaining their patients’ data privacy and security.

Across the enterprise, EJGH reduced their potential annual risk from roughly $135,000 to only $36 thanks to the additional QA reviews and was still able to uphold its 72-hour turnaround policy on ROI requests, often fulfilling requests in less time. Hours of printing and administrative work for RAC and MAC requests were also eliminated due to MRO’s esMD (Electronic Submission of Medical Documentation), which offers an online platform to check status of RAC appeals.

Despite the varying ROI processes and technology systems among practices and departments, EJGH has achieved the consistency and standardization its leadership desired thanks to MRO and ROI Online.

“We feel confident that we are all practicing across the board equally and we are abiding by the law for releasing information,” Zeiour said. “Having a knowledge source that any of us can call on for any issues also gives us peace of mind.”