By Linda Kloss, RHIA, FAHIMA

We are all eager to put 2020 in the rear view mirror. Even knowing that 2021 will be very challenging at home and around the globe, we see a path forward through vaccinations and a gradual return to stability. As this year without parallel draws to an end, I think it deserves a different thought process. No recriminations about the things you didn’t accomplish. No resolutions for the New Year please.  Instead, focus on the many important ways you helped others throughout the year. Make a list of the best things you did this year–for your family, friends, and yourself. Make another list of how you helped professional colleagues and the people that you serve. The 2020 pandemic tested our resilience, ingenuity, and, oh yes, patience. This is a time to reflect on all you did and take a pause for a little well deserved self-congratulation!

In last week’s Verisma Webinar “Standardization and Partnership: The Baptist Health South Florida Story,” Rosie Hernandez and Karen Marhefka underscored key lessons about adapting Release of Information for not only the pandemic response, but the new realities of access and disclosure management going forward. Part of the New Fundamentals series, this case study illustrated how Health Systems Solutions (HSS), a partnership of  Baptist Health South Florida and Guidehouse, strengthened the patient experience, achieved greater efficiency and  improved compliance by partnering with Verisma. Baptist understood that these goals depended on automating the release of information workflow and selected the Verisma Release Manager™ (VRM) for use by HSS staff.  In addition to end-to- end workflow automation, Hernandez and Markefka described the importance of a uniform or standard process across the Baptist system, inpatient and outpatient. As Hernandez explained, “standardizing is doing it the same way every time and doing it right.”  

The Verisma Request App™ (VRA) was in place across most of the Baptist Health South Florida’s 7 hospitals, 54 ambulatory and associated centers just before COVID preparations began in earnest. Staff went to work from home using the very same work flow platform. HSS accelerated implementation of VRA to provide access without in-person processing or paper requests. Serving an international population made this even more compelling, offering VRA in English, Spanish, and Creole. VRA also made it easier to fulfil requests with e-records. So not only is VRA contributing to the goals of patient experience and compliance, it is bringing about new efficiencies including reduced supply costs. Reflecting from her position as CIO for health systems, Marhefka reminded us that success with this kind of change requires effective advocacy in communicating the need and securing support and collaboration. 

In a year of intense change and in the Miami area, a persistent COVID hot spot, HSS’s release of information services have delivered some pretty amazing results. Turnaround time for processing requests is 3-5 days and in just 3 months, the volume of VRA requests exceeded 600 a month. The release of information team transitioned from a siloed workflow to an end to end process that required upskilling. While some staff were initially reluctant to change, good training, support, and encouragement—and the sudden shock of work from home—paid off with a realized shift from clerical tasks to higher-value knowledge work. VRM and VRA and other technology management and analytical tools, enables HSS to be fully accountable to Baptist for the quality of the work and for evidence of full compliance. Importantly, Hernandez described the team’s overall readiness to adapt more quickly, a New Fundamental for sure.  

Congratulations to the team at HSS. Their foresight proved invaluable to their successes in 2020 and positioning for the future. 

It’s been a year of loss. But it has also been a year of finding. Congratulations for the great work you did and know that it has prepared you for the challenges of 2021 and beyond.