Mass General works to solve piece of meaningful use puzzle

By Kyle Hardy
10:37 AM

Massachusetts General Hospital, a 900-bed care center located in the heart of Boston, has been using a new secure file transfer solution that has helped solve one piece of meaningful use.

Mark Haas, associate director of health information services at Mass General, has been working with Chelmsford, Mass.-based Biscom to develop a new electronic delivery model that ensures security against confidentiality breaches.

"There's two transmissions," said Haas. "One is a simple e-mail with a link to the patients health information. The recipient has to then input a user ID and password to view the actual record. It's a lot like online banking, and provides better security for patients."

Mass General has been leveraging the Biscom Delivery Server to facilitate the exchange of medical records, and has seen benefits ranging from easy implementation to increased productivity.

The idea of uploading data to a secure network came to Haas while working with the Social Security Administration's Web site. Patient records would be uploaded to the site and gated with a user ID and password. "The Social Security Administration has created a secure web site where we post PHI securely," said Haas. "We started thinking, 'Why couldn't we build something like this?' That's how this whole thing got started."

The exchange of electronic medical records is a big part of meaningful use, Haas says, and Mass General had been doing that three years prior to the rule's conception.

"The process of sending records used to be laborious," said Haas. "It's all about efficiency. The fact that we were under budget constraints pushed us to look to technology to help. By leveraging this technology we now send about 52,000 medical records annually, per request of the patient and noticed that using the server was doubling our productivity."

The Biscom project, based on Haas's experience using the Social Security Administration's Web site, began as a pilot at the hospital. There was virtually no IT team, with the exception of a few officials from both sides. 

“We worked closely with Mark to deploy a solution that worked within MGH’s processes,” said Bill Ho, Biscom’s vice president of internet products. “The goal of this solution is to help healthcare organizations send sensitive patient records more securely and more easily, especially with respect to satisfying meaningful use criteria.”

Haas said that using this model of PHI exchange has been helpful on it's way to getting ready for meaningful use, but, the rule is huge. Haas expects to see real improvements when patients start to realize that requesting their medical information electronically is actually a big part of the rule.

"Right now we force the issue by telling our patient they can request their medical information," said Haas. "We ask them whether they would prefer it in electronic format or paper. Most of the patients said they would prefer the electronic copy."

Robert Matthews, in charge of business development at Biscom, said that providers need to realize that there are many paths to achieve meaningful use, and "there is no one-size-fits all solution."

"There are many ways to solve this puzzle," said Matthews, "and Mark has found one way to do it."