Exploring Driver #5 of the “5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information”
By: Linda Kloss, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA
People are becoming better informed about their rights and the value of information to inform health and healthcare decisions. Increase in personal health spending is one reason consumers are becoming better informed. So is the growing understanding that it’s wise to be knowledgeable and involved in one’s health and healthcare decisions. Release of Information (ROI) teams see this trend firsthand with the growing number of requests for records from patients.
ROI is on the front line in helping patients become smart health information consumers. Patient requests will continue to increase and they will expect a reasonable customer service experience in requesting and obtaining records. Those responsible for ROI should be monitoring changing requirements, exploring best practices and planning for innovation in a future-focused way.
Earlier blogs examined the value of standardizing ROI across the health care enterprise to improve quality and compliance. Enterprise ROI also improves customer satisfaction and contributes to an organization’s patient engagement objectives. Regardless of whether the patient initiates a request at the physician’s office or hospital, the request process should be the same and the patient should be able to secure the requested information without going from site to site. Verisma clients are realizing quantifiable improvement in customer satisfaction, improved compliance, accuracy, and cost management by deploying ROI technology and consistent policy and process across the enterprise. If full standardization is not possible for your organization, use ROI technology to unify the process as fully as possible and plan to further centralize over time.
The next wave of innovation will be self-service functionality enabling patients and other authorized requestors to request medical records via web at their convenience. There will be no need to stand in line or to fill out a paper form. Done well, self-service request apps use state of the art security, identity verification, and preserve a record of transactions. As with enterprise ROI, Verisma clients are now introducing self-service into ROI thereby helping patients gain access to health information while also stepping up security and accountability.
Patients may want ease of access to their information, but they don’t want to trade off their privacy rights to gain it. Recent research found that 49% of US online adults are concerned about the privacy of their healthcare information when using on line tools. On line request apps must meet HIPAA requirements and maintain a high bar for identity management and the accommodation of patients’ disclosure preferences. If implemented properly, request apps can help educate patients in the exercise of their rights process. ROI teams can do a great deal to help educate patients about their rights, and a valuable source of educational materials is with HHS. Proactive education about privacy rights and your organization’s practices benefits all.
HIM managers should evaluate the request process from the patients’ perspective.
- What data are available on volume of requests at various provider settings across the network?
- How similar or dissimilar is the patient experience at various settings?
- How does staff in various settings respond to a set of “test” questions that patients might pose that require working knowledge of HIPAA privacy regulations?
- How can customer facing processes be improved through greater standardization, through technology, education and request apps?
This is our final post in the “5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information” series. Should you have any comments or questions please e-mail us at email@example.com.
 Khatibloo, F., Forester Research in testimony before the NCVHS, September 13, 2017, (https://www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Sep-13-@115pm-Khatibloo-Beyond-HIPAA-Statement.pdf)
 Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html)
Leader in automated disclosure management to make self-service available to requesters within client organizations, commercial health plans, attorneys
ALEXANDRIA, VA. – Sept. 28, 2017 – Verisma Systems, Inc., today announced plans to extend the functionality of Verisma Request Application (VRA), a self-service solution that enables patients and their proxies to request their medical records online 24/7/365. The company, an industry leader in technology-driven enterprise disclosure management, will develop functionality so internal requestors, commercial health plans and attorneys can benefit from similar self-service options.
“We consulted with clients and they sent a very clear message,” says Marty McKenna, CEO of Verisma. “They expect the same online access and convenience in professional transactions as in their personal lives. We have the technology and commitment to deliver, and will accelerate our plans to meet this emerging market need.”
Verisma will introduce functionality over the coming months that will enable each of the three expanded stakeholder groups to securely and easily request/receive records within applications and programs they use on a daily basis, according to Andrew McManus, Founder & Executive Vice President at Verisma. “Our objective is to make the request and release process convenient and seamless,” he says. “We will enable requesters to gain entry to VRA at the most logical point within their workflow while rigorously preserving a compliant release process.”
McManus says Verisma’s analytic tools indicate the most common disclosure requests are urgent in nature and typically support continuity of care. However, commercial health plans and attorney requests rank second and third in frequency, which drove the company’s decision to expand VRA to these specific users.
“We want to make requesters’ jobs and lives easier,” McKenna says. “These new features within VRA will certainly do that, while also allowing us to continue to exceed the expectations of our patient and proxy requestors.”
Verisma is a health information technology provider focused on delivering unparalleled Disclosure Management solutions. The company’s flagship automation system, Verisma® Release Manager (VRM), is utilized by well-known healthcare organizations nationwide. VRM automates workflow to improve turnaround times, reduce errors and drive down costs – effectively automating medical records release while delivering comprehensive release audit capabilities. It is the only release technology with integrated HIPAA guidance and compliance review support. For additional information, please visit www.verisma.com, call 866-390-7404 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone (770) 317-8831
Exploring Driver #4 of the “5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information”
By: Linda Kloss, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA
This blog series on transforming release of health information has examined the increased demand for information, the need to mitigate risk and control to costs. We outlined the need for sound work process design supported by workflow technology as an essential requirement for ROI today. In this third blog, we explore the need to scale technology-enabled workflow from a single site—a hospital or clinic—to the enterprise.
Enterprise may seem a lofty word but it works well to describe the need to scale-up ROI. Enterprise refers to a business (the entire health system) or a project (managing access and disclosure of protected health information). It is the term customarily used to describe the software version needed to support a whole organization. A healthcare organization doesn’t purchase multiple copies of the single user version of Microsoft 10 to support the whole organization, it gets the enterprise version to save money and ensure that the whole team is securely working together on the same platform.
Best practice for ROI requires a uniform set of policies and procedures that are sanctioned for use throughout the organization. It requires that mechanisms are in place to ensure that the sanctioned policies and procedures are being applied wherever ROI occurs in the healthcare organization, whether in a medical practice, the ED, or a hospital. ROI can no longer be siloed, with each part of the enterprise handling requests and releases as it sees fit. A standardized approach is needed, as is a process for escalating issues for timely resolution. In today’s complex work environments it’s almost impossible to ensure uniformity in a decentralized process without the use of uniform workflow technology.
Many healthcare organizations are going a step further and centralizing all release of information because this approach offers greater opportunity to mitigate risk, control cost, and improve service to customers. They may do this in-house with their own staff or outsource all or part of the function. Again, what ensures uniform practice is the use of a common technology platform designed to guide compliant workflow that allows managers to track and trend processing and release quality and productivity. Many successful Verisma customers are demonstrating the tangible value of this approach. In fact, Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, MO will address their results at the upcoming AHIMA 2017 Convention in LA (Monday, October 9th, 1-2 pm).
HIM managers may consider the following questions as they assess how best to reduce ROI cost and risk while improving service through enterprise-wide standardization:
- Can we map the current ROI practices across the enterprise? Where are requests for information being received and processed? Are current policies and processes well outlined and up-to-date? How do we measure how well they are being adhered to?
- What is the opportunity to centralize using technology-enabled workflow tools? How can we make the case for cost savings, improved compliance and better service? Whose support will be needed to effect this change?
- Given the organizations current capabilities, is it best to centralize through outsourcing, insourcing or a hybrid combination?
In our final post in the series, we will explore Driver #5 Enterprise ROI Improves Customer Satisfaction of the “5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information.” In the meantime, please send your questions or comments to email@example.com.
By: Linda Kloss, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA
How are leading healthcare organizations dealing with new regulations and challenges in release of confidential health information? Verisma explored this question at its first annual Disclosure Management Summit (user conference) this past May and confirmed five critical drivers for transformational change.
1. ROI Volume and Complexity is on the Rise
A typical academic medical center may process over 150,000 health record requests from patients and third parties each year. Requests are increasing in volumes year–over–year and the typical health system is more complex with the expansion of service lines and consolidations with ambulatory practices. Electronic health records allow access to digital information, but require careful assessment that information to be released is accurately obtained from multiple systems and often in multiple formats.
2. ROI Process Variation Across a Health System is Costly
The only way to reduce cost is to reduce preventable process variation through an end-to-end ROI workflow design. Healthcare is coming to understand this and is embracing lean and six sigma techniques across clinical and administrative functions. ROI processes that vary from site to site across the health systems adds costs. ROI is ripe for redesign to realize tangible cost reductions.
3. ROI Process Variation is Risky
ROI is an administrative process that must conform to federal and state laws and organizational standards and policy. The only way to reduce compliance risk is to build in compliance checks throughout the end-to-end ROI workflow and to build in full accountability to track and reduce errors and risks. Health systems can no longer tolerate inconsistent and ad hoc ROI processes across the enterprise.
4. Enterprise Standardization Reduces Cost and Mitigates Risk
Best-practices in ROI calls for a uniform set of policies and procedures across the entire health care enterprise. Uniformity in turn, requires technology to guide compliant workflow and allow managers to track and trend processing and release quality and productivity. Health systems will organize ROI services according to their goals and objectives, but technology-enable standardization is essential whether ROI is centralized, decentralized or outsourced.
5. Enterprise ROI Improves Customer Satisfaction
Best ROI practice health systems report important gains in customer satisfaction from standardization. Regardless of whether the patient initiates a request at the physician’s office or hospital, the request process is the same and he/she is able to secure the complete record without going from site to site. Enterprise ROI is an important element of a health system’s overall customer engagement initiative.
It’s time to modernize Release of Health Information with enterprise-wide compliant technology and up-to-date management practices. Learn how health systems using Verisma’s ROI and disclosure management technology and services are moving from siloes to enterprise approaches that are reducing risk and cost, while improving the satisfaction of patients and staff. To learn more about how Verisma can help transform ROI in your organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us directly at 866.390.7404.
In our subsequent blog posts, we will explore and dive deeper into each of these five critical drivers and we hope that you will engage and share your thoughts with us.