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Virtualization Enables CHRISTUS Health to Manage Workflow, Boost Workflow Efficiency
In 2006, the Information Management (IM) department's implementation team at Dallas-based CHRISTUS Health realized it needed a more flexible, scalable and interoperable scripting tool and switched to Boston Software Systems'™ Boston WorkStation™, which helps automate time-consuming, repetitive and manual tasks.

CHRISTUS Health's IM staff handles myriad tasks, such as printing reports, downloading vendor products and data entry across all departments, including Lab, Pharmacy, Billing, Quality Management, Admissions, Emergency Department management and Medical Records. Boston WorkStation enables the staff to maintain more than 400 scripts throughout the CHRISTUS systems. This automation helps CHRISTUS Health improve staff efficiency and data accuracy and obtain overall cost savings.

But efficiency comes with a price. As requests for automating tasks poured in, server space dwindled. Eventually, there were 200 scripts on one server, which filled the schedule and prevented staff from filling requests for additional scripts. To solve this problem, CHRISTUS implemented virtualization technology and realized an immediate boost to the capacity for workflow automation projects.

Having a single virtual server per region has enabled CHRISTUS Health to more widely disperse scripts, making them more manageable and efficient. A single vendor download request for all regions that would have previously taken eight hours to complete with a typical standalone script now takes a fraction of the time, when divided appropriately among virtual servers.

Third-party lab billing made easy

CHRISTUS Health utilizes an application that downloads information related to lab procedures to create reports for third-party billers for pathology. The downloads provide such items as demographics and insurance charge information. CHRISTUS Health uses Boston WorkStation to execute a MEDITECH custom report depending on its data needs. Done manually, the process would take staff many hours to execute the non-procedural representation (NPR) reports and deliver the data files due to vendor data requirements. With Boston WorkStation, the CHRISTUS IM team can now provide files on a timely basis automatically, reducing both the time to complete these activities and essentially removing people from the equation.

In the Emergency, Nursing and Lab departments, the IM staff has developed two-part scripts that allow them to share information between MEDITECH and McKesson systems. It formerly required six people and up to eight hours of data entry to manually input the information, depending on how many discharges the hospital experienced. The Boston WorkStation scripts complete these daily tasks in about 90 minutes.

"Nurses, doctors and business staff would be required to report to work at midnight to generate reports they needed for the next day," said Mitch Lawrence, lead application analyst at CHRISTUS. "Now, the IM department uses a scripting tool to do the task for them, which prevents them from having to come in. In turn, they don't have to spend money on overtime or on hiring a full-time employee to generate all the reports."

Rewarding the most important resource

One of the most common data entry tasks that the IM department is asked to do is to script in annual raises. With anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 employees in any one region, such a job would require four to five people over a week of data entry to accomplish. Using a Boston WorkStation script, the task can be done in much less time. "Often a single computer working around 24 hours can script in the raises for an entire region's employees (about 5,000 records), ensuring that the most important resource of a hospital, the staff, is rewarded in a timely manner," said Lawrence.

"CHRISTUS has found hundreds of uses for automating manual tasks in all areas of the hospital using Boston WorkStation," said Steve Cohen, executive vice president, Boston Software Systems. "From third-party billing and lab reporting to time keeping, CHRISTUS understands that this isn't just better technology -- it's better business. CHRISTUS is achieving more efficient processes that translate into faster, more cost-effective and continuous high-quality care, as well as a happy staff. Adding the virtual machine element actually expands the power of workflow automation even more."

CHRISTUS Health is a Catholic, faith-based, not-for-profit health system comprised of almost 350 services and facilities, including more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities, 175 clinics and outpatient centers, and dozens of other health ministries and ventures. CHRISTUS services can be found in 60 cities in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Georgia in the U.S. and Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas in Mexico.

Published Monday, December 03, 2007 7:11 PM by David Marshall
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