Case Study: Emory University
Emory Healthcare Turns to Central Logic Transfer Center™ For Regulatory Compliance and Patient Information Management
Clinical Arm of World-Renowned Emory University Deploys Industry-Leading Patient Transfer Management Software Solution Across Three High-Profile Atlanta Facilities
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory Healthcare is the clinical arm of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University, which focuses on patient care, education of health professionals, research addressing health and illness, and health policies for prevention and treatment of disease. The backbone of this system is the Emory University School of Medicine, which has been at the forefront of medical knowledge and research, and has pioneered many advances and procedures that have changed the face of medical history. As the largest and most comprehensive health system in Georgia, Emory Healthcare has 1,184 licensed patient beds, 11,000 employees, and more than 20 health centers located throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Emory Healthcare, like other sizeable medical networks in today’s information age, devotes significant time and resources to maintaining compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations pertaining to patient care.
As a university affiliate, and as the largest care provider in the Atlanta area, the organization is very sensitive to these issues, and takes every precaution necessary with its admission processes, and with maintaining, archiving, and safeguarding confidential patient information. Consequently, Emory Healthcare is constantly searching for ways to strengthen its regulatory compliance and patient information management processes.
In early 2009, Emory Healthcare was in the process of evaluating different methods for consolidating and accessing patient transfer information across three of its most heavily-trafficked facilities: Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and the Emory Heart & Vascular Center.
The organization was hoping to identify a technology-based solution which could create a secure, central repository for patient transfer information; facilitate standardized data entry across multiple facilities; and deliver comprehensive, data-rich reports to senior management. In addition, this application had to be flexible and customizable to fit Emory Healthcare’s patient transfer workflow, and easily integrated with the organization’s other information technology (IT) systems.
This challenging task fell to Raymond Hornfeck, RN, manager of bed management and transfer services at Emory Healthcare, and Marilyn Margolis, director of nursing operations at Emory University Hospital.
Unfortunately, the duo were not able to immediately pinpoint any viable software packages that addressed all of Emory Healthcare’s needs, so they began researching other options that could possibly benefit the organization.
In a serendipitous moment while pondering the project’s direction, Hornfeck received an unsolicited phone inquiry from Central Logic™ about the company’s Transfer Center™ offering, and Emory Healthcare’s potential interest in using the software to support its patient transfer center. Transfer Center is a powerful, Web-based software application designed to streamline patient flows between medical facilities, and securely capture and deliver critical transfer information to physicians and hospital administrative personnel.
“When we were approached by Central Logic about using Transfer Center, we were skeptical, to say the least,” Margolis said. “The company spent considerable time demonstrating the product, and then additional time convincing us Transfer Center was the right product for our transfer center. Central Logic also proved Transfer Center could be customized to meet our needs and match our workflow, and that was music to our ears.”
In total, Emory Healthcare spent approximately six months evaluating and configuring the product so it would work seamlessly across all three facilities, and connecting with transfer center managers in other systems who are also using Central Logic Transfer Center. This lengthy assessment was followed by a comprehensive training regimen in which transfer center staff and other support personnel from the three sites worked directly with Central Logic representatives to learn Transfer Center’s many features and reporting options.
“Normally, software configuration can take months and months, but the Transfer Center customization process was relatively quick and easy, all things considered,” said Margolis. “Central Logic is a very nimble and responsive company, and their staff was quick to attend to our change requests, which were numerous. Beyond configuring the product to work across three sites, Central Logic also modified Transfer Center’s reporting capabilities to use terminology and process steps commonly found in academic and analytical environments like ours.”
“Central Logic’s commitment to adapting Transfer Center to our unique setting, and doing so against a tight deadline, was one of the major reasons we chose the company to support our transfer operation,” Hornfeck added. “This truly is a nice relationship to have, and Transfer Center is an excellent fit for our staff, physicians, processes, and budget.”
Emory Healthcare’s transfer center went live in September, 2009 with Central Logic Transfer Center, and the positive impact was almost immediate.
“Transfer Center has proven itself as a remarkably effective solution for us on a number of levels,” commented Margolis. “It has allowed us to further standardize our transfer processes, and it has given us the ability to be far more thorough and complete when updating and maintaining patient records. Most importantly, because it is intuitive and easy to use, we are now able to better navigate each transfer, step by step, and ultimately deliver much better service and care to each patient.”
In just nine months, Emory Healthcare is now processing well over 1,000 transfers per month between all three facilities, a 10% increase over its prior system which relied on manual data entry to update patient information. Additionally, the organization’s transfer center productivity has also improved, with substantial reductions in the amount of time required to process a transfer from the first call to the patient’s arrival and admission.
“Before moving to Transfer Center, we were burdened with lots of paper, and lots of boxes, from all the patient transfer records and related information we needed to update and store,” Margolis said. “Now, all that information is right at our fingertips, and this approach has saved us a great deal of time and resources.”
Emory Healthcare’s compliance with regulatory issues also has been made easier. “Transfer Center has allowed us, as an institution, to carefully monitor legal compliance issues in real time, such as the ability to determine whether a patient arrived or did not arrive at one of our facilities,” remarked Dr. Bryce Gartland, medical director of care coordination. “This capability is critical to our operations because being able to monitor and demonstrate our compliance helps us to focus on providing optimal patient care and can prevent costly litigation.”
According to Hornfeck and Margolis, Emory Healthcare is now fully utilizing all of Central Logic Transfer Center’s reporting functions to closely monitor patient flow performance, and to identify operational areas where improvements can be made.
“Now that we are effectively managing all of this information, we are leveraging Transfer Center’s data-rich capabilities in this area to further refine our processes, strongly track key compliance issues, and continuously make improvements that enhance our overall operation and care environment,”
Hornfeck said. “Our physician leadership also likes seeing these reports, so this data is quite useful for our doctors and senior management when making important decisions.”
Although Central Logic Transfer Center is currently a stand-alone solution at Emory Healthcare, Hornfeck and Margolis intend to integrate the product in the near future with other IT applications and processes, such as those that help the organization manage patient admissions and bed capacity. Additionally, the Emory Transfer Center hopes to utilize Transfer Center to further consolidate the system’s transfer services, and to begin tracking incoming patients by health insurance carriers and coverage types. The transfer services and hospital leadership will also provide Central Logic with continuous and valuable feedback concerning the product’s performance and functionality that will enhance future upgrades to Transfer Center – and further contribute to Emory Healthcare’s transfer center successes.
“We are extremely pleased with Central Logic, and the deployment of Transfer Center has played a major role in helping us improve our transfer center operations,” Margolis concluded. “The product has enabled us to be more responsive, productive, efficient, and compliant with regulatory issues. It has been an ideal solution for us.”