The adage “what gets measured gets managed” rings true in the health information and medical record management industry. Keeping a consistent, close watch on performance metrics will help your HIM department quickly catch and correct issues, and can help you find new ways to be more efficient and effective in this area. In this post we’ll break down the most important release of information (ROI) and health information management (HIM) metrics you should be monitoring to optimize performance.

Turnaround Time is the Most Critical Measure of Release of Information Performance

Without a doubt, turnaround time is the most important measure of overall success for ROI and HIM teams. Turnaround time indicates the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your ROI and HIM operations and is a direct measure of the health of these functions.

Historically, HIPAA has allowed healthcare providers a 30-day window to respond to medical record requests. HIPAA also has allowed a 30-day grace period, providing a period of 60 days total before an organization is in violation of HIPAA for not responding to a request for medical records. Recent proposed legislation may lead to a shorter window to respond to these requests, increasing the pressure on HIM departments to further improve turnaround times. Additionally, as turnaround time increases, you’ll begin hearing more complaints from your requestors and patients. A consistently high turnaround time puts your organization at risk for government penalties and increases the burden on customer service operations.

The two components of measuring turnaround time include: average turnaround time during a date range and the average age of pending record requests.

Best practices suggest reviewing time on a weekly basis. Review the average turnaround time for a request for the previous week. If that number looks good – perhaps a three-day average turnaround time – then your next step is to look for any outliers. Your reporting should not only highlight what your average turnaround time was for a given date range but also make it easy to find any outliers from that average. By making a point to regularly look for outliers, you can more easily uncover any trends and address underlying issues before they become a bigger problem. For example, perhaps your overall average turnaround time is 24 hours, but outliers of 100 days are dragging you into a three-day turnaround time average.

Knowing the average age of your pending record requests is also key, especially in a high-volume processing environment. When you measure turnaround time, you’re measuring the requests that have been completed – date received to date delivered. However, pending requests don’t have a delivered date yet, and it’s important to calculate what your average age of pending requests is to see if your turnaround time is sound for those individual requests. Monitoring the age of pending requests will provide deeper insight into the efficiency of your release of information operations.

Impacts of Your Turnaround Time

A shorter turnaround time will drive patient satisfaction and a better patient experience, along with better overall productivity. Consistently being able to complete patient record requests within a one- to three-day window will enable your team to spend less time on customer service calls from frustrated requestors and patients. Minimizing the amount of time the team spends fielding these types of calls translates into a lower cost for processing ROI requests. Simply put, if your organization boasts an average turnaround time of three days, you may not need any dedicated customer service staff; however, if your average turnaround time is ten days, you will likely need to add a customer service team member to manage those calls.

Better turnaround times also mean you’re more likely to be able to collect on billable requests and have an overall higher collection rate.

Reporting on Inbound Document Management

In addition to release of information metrics, fax and scan filing should also be measured for turnaround time. When it comes to inbound document filing onto patients’ charts electronically, these documents can be vital to a provider’s ability to provide proper care and support to their patients. Productivity and volume measures will confirm whether you’re staffing this process at an appropriate level.

Incoming faxes and scans should ideally be filed on the patient chart the same day they’re received, and turnaround time for this process should therefore be measured in hours, not days, and strive for an average of 0 days. As with release of information turnaround time, continue to monitor for outliers to ensure the timely availability of this information for patient care.

Production and Productivity Reporting

Production and productivity reporting can also provide important feedback on your release of information operations. In order to confirm and plan staffing levels, it’s important to have good data and a good understanding of your production volumes and processing efficiency, i.e. productivity. Productivity reports will help you understand whether your staff are efficient in performing their duties, which is a major supporting factor of your average turnaround time. By reviewing productivity reports, you can better ensure your staff are enabled to be as productive as possible and that you’re meeting your desired turnaround time standards.

FQHCs Close the Loop with Referral Management

Another metric for measuring the effectiveness of your inbound document management is referral or order management. FQHCs in particular are often responsible for referring patients to specialists, who may then refer the information back to the FQHC or primary care provider. This referral “loop” must be closed at the FQHC as a requirement of continued funding. Order management has to be at a high performance level to ensure this happens.

For example, if a facility refers 100 patients to specialists this month, by the end of the next month, they may need to confirm 75 of the patients followed through with a specialist to receive treatment, and the FQHC received the record of that treatment in the patient chart. If an FQHC falls below the required threshold, they may be penalized in their quality measures. Order or referral management is very important, and inbound document filing supports that process. By doing a good job in this area, it can help your organization achieve good metrics with your overall order or referral management.

Billing Transparency Benefits You

Billing transparency is key for organizations to understand the financial impact their ROI and HIM teams create. Information on revenue and collections can help you identify any gaps in where your organization is struggling to collect or is missing out on valuable revenue.

Get Better Reporting with ScanSTAT

As a provider of release of information and health information management services, ScanSTAT understands how valuable reporting is when it comes to optimizing performance in these areas. That’s why we offer full transparency to our clients on all areas of our service. Designated facility personnel are enabled to access all reports at any time – volumes, productivity, turnaround time, revenue and collections. In addition, ScanSTAT provides a client dashboard designed to give client partners a high-level overview of our performance.

If you’re interested in learning how your organization can benefit from ScanSTAT’s ROI and HIM solutions, contact us today.

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