Case Study

Methodist LeBonheur Improves Physician Order Management with Trace

With seven hospitals, multiple home health agencies and outpatient clinics serving the Mid South, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., is one of the largest hospital systems in the country. Methodist has used Trace to improve productivity and the bottom line by streamlining manual, paper-driven processes across the health system.

Methodist’s greatest area of need was physician order management, where an outdated fax solution had bogged down the scheduling process. When a fax arrived from a physician’s office, staff had to change the subject line and email it to the appropriate clinical area. Because of differing referencing criteria, however, orders were often misplaced or sent to the wrong locations. And without a mechanism to track deleted faxes, leaders were unable to establish accountability for missing orders.

“Physicians got extremely frustrated when associates called them over and over to ask for an order they had faxed multiple times,” said Gail Larkins, System Coordinator in Corporate Access Management.

The struggle also caused dissatisfaction among patients. Patients scheduled for same-day surgery often arrived before physician offices opened in the morning. “If patients arrived and we couldn’t find their orders, they had to wait until the office opened and could fax it over,” explained Larkins.

In addition to these challenges, the fax solution overloaded the email system, causing delays across the organization. Methodist selected Trace to replace the cumbersome system and has since implemented it successfully in 67 departments and with 1,156 users.

Staff capture orders through Trace, index records by patient and notify clinical areas for follow-up. “We can set it up to notify staff of incoming orders by department so inboxes don’t get flooded with inapplicable orders,” said Larkins. Fax numbers are associated with group names so staff can easily view and sort orders by sender. Date and time stamps provide an accurate record of the time of receipt.

By electronically archiving faxes, Methodist eliminated the need to request re-faxes of missing orders, improving physician satisfaction and streamlining patient throughput. “If an order is sent to the wrong area, we can quickly search the system to find it,” said Larkins. “We can also back each other up by logging in and reconciling a co-worker’s faxes when someone is out of the office.”

In addition to managing faxes, Methodist uses Trace in Case Management to record phone calls to payers for precertification. Admissions is also piloting the system for documenting online insurance verification.

As word spreads, Methodist continues to identify new opportunities to improve processes through Trace. Among some of the unique applications are faxing spreadsheets to area blood banks, tracking employee TB skin tests, storing purchasing orders and capturing catering orders in food services.

“Everyone who has Trace loves it,” said Larkins. “It’s all about the ease of the system…you just can’t mess it up!”

About Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare

With seven hospitals, multiple home health agencies and outpatient clinics to serve the Mid South, Methodist is one of the largest hospital systems in the country and has been named as one of the 2009 Top 100 Integrated Healthcare Networks by SDI, the nation’s premier rating system. Networks are ranked on the best of technology, services and physicians.

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