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HIM Spotlight

New England Sinai Hospital
By David Yeager

Frequently, innovation comes from using what’s already available in a new way. In an effort to meet Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities standards related to patient health records, a team of New England Sinai Hospital (NESH) staff members from the HIM, admissions, outpatient therapies, and marketing departments implemented a system to help their patients track medical information. The effort won NESH recognition from the Massachusetts Health Information Management Association (MaHIMA), which presented NESH with its 2011 Innovation Award for Collaboration.

“The team approached me and said, ‘What can we do?’” says Susan Marre, director of HIM at NESH. “And, at the time, I was very active with the MyPHR campaign through AHIMA, and I thought of using the folders that the MyPHR campaign provided. So I contacted AHIMA, and they very graciously sent us 2,000 folders.”

NESH is a 212-bed, long-term, acute care hospital in Stoughton, Mass., that specializes in pulmonary, medically complex, and acute rehabilitation care. Many of the hospital’s patients are Medicare-aged people with multiple comorbid conditions who receive physical, occupational, or speech therapy. The PHR folders help patients track information such as medical tests, inoculations, doctors’ appointments, doctors’ names and phone numbers, and who their healthcare proxy is, if they have one.

“It’s an easy couple of pages that concisely gives providers any information about that patient,” says Marre. “So even if they’re not at New England Sinai Hospital but they’re going back to their primary care physician, they can just take this folder and all the information is in there.”

The award recognizes teamwork across or within departments to meet HIM challenges through a new process or technique. Marre says patient response has been positive, and she believes the folders improve the quality of care by making this information more accessible to patients and providers. She also believes healthcare costs are being reduced because there’s less repeat testing when patients forget which procedures they’ve undergone.

NESH currently provides a folder to each patient who receives outpatient therapy and includes one in every inpatient educational binder that patients receive when they’re admitted. An additional benefit is that the new process has had almost no effect on workflow. Volunteers put the folders together, and they’re distributed by members of the outpatient therapy and admissions offices. Marre says the results were well worth the effort.

“It was nice to work as a team with both clinical and nonclinical staff to achieve quality patient care while meeting accreditation standards and saving a few dollars in the overall healthcare arena,” she says.

David Yeager is a freelance writer and editor based in Royersford, Pa.