Mass General Seeks to Streamline Massive Document Delivery Load
It’s easy to understand why patients the world over turn to Massachusetts General Hospital—the largest hospital of renowned Harvard Medical School—for their health care. With nearly 1.5 million patient visits per year, Mass General receives more than 50,000 accompanying requests for patient records, requiring the hospital to transmit sensitive patient information to other health care providers, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and dozens of additional entities.
Traditionally, Mass General sent records in huge hard files via mail or fax machines—an outdated, inefficient process involving enormous quantities of paper and room for error. When Mark Haas, Associate Director of Health Information Services, learned that the SSA had begun to allow uploads of electronic records to their secure site, he knew the administration was on to something.
“If the SSA could do it, we could, too,” says Haas, “so we set out to develop our own secure system for electronic patient record retrieval.” First on the list of Mass General’s priorities for the system: the highest levels of security, in order to protect the very private information contained in the records.
“In many cases, the system needs to be even more secure than those in the financial services industry,” Haas notes. “We pay hefty fines if we don’t share information in an appropriate manner that’s compliant with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).”
Among Mass General’s other concerns were the ability to track all document activity, the capacity to adjust security levels, and the flexibility to brand the system with its own look and feel. The hospital found all of this and more in Biscom Secure File Transfer (SFT).
SFT Transforms Mass General’s Document Delivery Process
Biscom designed SFT specifically for institutions like Mass General, which require the utmost security, scalability, and flexibility in their document delivery systems. SFT offers distinct advantages such as encryption of files both at rest and in transit, Active Directory for user management and authentication, unlimited file sizes, and integration with existing software and hardware.
Moreover, SFT packages these features into a user interface that is exceptionally easy to navigate. A sender simply creates a “package” of files, optionally adds a secure message, and enters one or more email addresses of recipients, who are then notified of their secure delivery through an email message. After clicking on the embedded hyperlink within the message, first-time recipients can access their deliveries by establishing a username and password, while previous registrants merely sign in. Once a recipient views a package, the sender receives an email notification that the delivery has been accessed.
In the two years since its implementation, SFT has transformed Mass General’s document delivery approach. The hospital experienced a 104% increase in productivity when using SFT to exchange a record as compared to its previous paper-based methods. This translated into a significant cost savings in all aspects of the hospital’s process, from materials and postage to supplies and personnel.
Not only has SFT had a major impact on Mass General’s bottom line, but it has also reduced the potential for error in the file transmission process. “When we ‘send’ a record via SFT, the transmission does not contain any PHI (personal health information)” says Haas. “So if we mistakenly contact the wrong email address, the incorrect recipient will not know the password to unlock the file. But if we mistype a fax number or write the wrong address on a paper file, it results in a potential breach of confidentiality. This is a critical level of protection for us that goes over and above sending records on paper.”
Mass General’s SFT Success Attracts Attention of More Harvard Hospitals
Today, Mass General completes approximately 20,000 of its annual record requests using SFT. Going forward, Haas expects the buzz about Mass General’s success with SFT will lead other hospitals in the Harvard area to adopt the solution as well.
“By partnering with Biscom, we were able to meet pending meaningful use objectives, all in a user-friendly, easy-to-install, and easy-to-train-on system, right out of the box,” Haas maintains. “Instead of going with an outside vendor, SFT allowed us to keep this work in house, where we can exercise greater security and quality control—at a much more reasonable price.”
Bolser sees Biscom’s usage at CHB expanding over time as “people see how it fits their needs.” With the ability to handle packages of unlimited size and to scale to a growing number of users and uses, the possibilities with SFT are limitless.
Massachusetts General Hospital
- Wanted an automated solution to replace inefficient manual file sharing process
- Needed tracking capabilities for all document activity
- Lacked a secure system for HIPAA compliance and electronic patient record retrieval
- Biscom Secure File Transfer
- 104% increase in productivity
- 65% reduction of cost per record
- Ability to track all document activity and the capacity to adjust security levels
[An SFT delivery] does not contain any PHI (personal health information), so if we mistakenly contact the wrong email address, the incorrect recipient will not know the password to unlock the file. But if we mistype a fax number or write the wrong address on a paper file, it results in a potential breach of confidentiality. This is a critical level of protection for us that goes over and above sending records on paper.
Associate Director of Health IS , Massachusetts General Hospital
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