The Alabama Department of Mental Health provides critical services to over 200,000 patients annually at hospitals and clinics across the state. With medical archives dating back over 150 years, the agency must manage patient data in a manner that enables staff to easily and quickly find the information they need.

Implementing Agency-Wide Records Management

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act asked all organizations, such as ours, to demonstrate meaningful use for information and have electronic health records to keep funding with Medicare and Medicaid,” said Cindy Shrum, Director of Information Systems. “We want to maintain our Medicare or Medicaid funding, but having an electronic records management system is also just easier. We’re able to get the information when we need it.”

Upon the recommendation of the State of Alabama, the agency selected Laserfiche as its records management solution. Laserfiche’s ease of use and competitive pricing meant the department could more productively use federal funding to create an agency-wide records management system for patient records.

Improving Patient Care through Staff Efficiency

The department partnered with the state, which was already using Laserfiche, to procure the software; this partnership also shortened implementation time and improved data sharing. The department has since digitized all medical records at Bryce Hospital, the state’s oldest and largest inpatient psychiatric facility.

“We’ve got them organized so you can see the physical history, the summary, and the progress notes,” Shrum says. “What I like about Laserfiche is that in just three clicks, we’re in the electronic health record. For a clinician, especially our doctors, that time matters to them.” Benefits include:

  • Eliminated the need to build a warehouse for patient archives, freeing up additional funds for patient services
  • Created efficient process to automatically digitize, organize and file full charts of new and archived patient data in a shared repository accessible to clinicians and nurses across departments
  • Integrated document management with the agency’s CoCentrix medical system eliminates repetitive data entry
  • Increased compliance with federal laws, ensuring continued Medicaid and Medicare funding

These financial and operational improvements have ultimately enabled the Alabama Department of Mental Health to provide better quality health care and a greater volume of patient visits. “We started out small, but the potential is unlimited,” Shrum says.

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