New requirements under the meaningful use and expanded HIPAA privacy rules require patient access to medical records in specified time periods. At Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla., Kim Wheeler, director of health information management, believes those two requirements already are in the bag.

The 421-bed hospital outsources its request for information services to HealthPort, Alpharetta, Ga. The vendor staffs its employees in the HIM department and are the ones who receives requests from patients, attorneys, insurers and others, and fills them.

And it isn't costing the hospital a dime--HealthPort makes its money from the fees it collects from those requesting records. "Those people are not on my budget," Wheeler says. "They sit in my department, get treated as employees and follow our policies."

That means Munroe regional won't need a server and secure Web portal to host electronic records that requesters can access, nor the FTEs necessary to perform records retrieval, post electronic information and mail paper documents, and bill and collect from patients.

The hospital can run regular reports to keep tabs on HealthPort's performance, including turnaround time, Wheeler says. She spoke to Health Data Management during the AHIMA Annual Convention & Exhibit in Orlando.

-Joseph Goedert


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