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How Springhill Medical Center simplified discharge summaries

Does anyone enjoy “paperwork,” even when it’s electronic? I don’t, and neither did the physicians at Springhill Medical Center (Mobile, AL).

Last year during a routine review of health information management (HIM) tasks, doctors asked for a simpler way to complete discharge summaries. This documentation recaps events during a patient’s hospital stay and helps coordinate care.

Unfortunately, physicians avoided finalizing discharge summaries because it was a time-consuming process. Incomplete charts caused delays in coding and billing. Springhill clinical and IT teams decided to work together to find a better way.


The key to faster summaries is automation

Springhill Medical Center looked to Allscripts Sunrise Acute CareTM to help improve the discharge summary process. The team started by reviewing hundreds of dictated reports and defining all the required elements. Next, they developed a Medical Logic Modules (MLM) to pull data from the entire patient visit including lab results, radiology, diagnostics, problem lists, discharge medications and more.

With just a few clicks, physicians can now pull all of this information into the discharge summary automatically. Springhill tested and adjusted the MLM, overcoming a few challenges along the way.

For example, the MLM had to account for inconsistent documentation styles. In their notes, physicians addressed topics in different orders and with a variety of terms. Now Springhill physicians use consistent words, and the IT team adjusted the MLM to recognize where to start and stop pulling data.

Signs that the new process is working


Now that the process takes five minutes, instead of 15-20 minutes, physicians are much more likely to finish their discharge summaries. Completion rates increased from 6% in January 2013 to about 70% just five months later.

As the old way of doing discharge summary dictations started to decline, so did costs. The total monthly cost in June was 44% less than it was in January, because of the new automated workflow.

Thanks to the team at Springhill Medical Center, physicians will spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork.  Which is good news for everybody.



Editor’s Note: For more information about successes at Springhill, check out these resources:

Springhill Medical Center, Achieving Measurable Performance Improvements (Case Study)

Springhill Medical Center Chooses Allscripts Sunrise Surgical Solution to Manage, Optimize Perioperative Care (News Release)

Springhill Medical Center takes competitive lead with outsourced IT (Blog Post)

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