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Save Time for PCPs with a Team-Based Approach to Patient Messages

Salem Health increased care team involvement in patient messaging so members could work at the top of their license. It reduced the number of messages going to primary care providers by 36%, saving each PCP an average of seven minutes spent on after-hours messaging per day.

To address its increased volume of patient messages, Salem Health—which includes a 644-bed hospital in Salem, OR, a critical access hospital, and a medical group—created a pilot role to focus on patient messages. Jane Birdsong, FNP, took on this role, spending 50% of her time providing primary care to patients through video visits, 25% of her time supporting PCPs by responding to patient messages directly, and 25% of her time improving overall patient messaging workflows. Beginning in the summer of 2022, she partnered with Kara Bacon, senior analyst, and members of Epic’s Physician Well-Being team to identify areas for improvement. By emphasizing a team-based approach where nurses and medical assistants reply to messages within their scope of responsibilities, they reduced the number of messages going to PCPs by 36%, saving them an average of seven minutes of after-hours work per day.

How They Did It

  • Routed patient responses to a pool instead of the primary care provider
  • Created refill “power hours” for MAs to focus exclusively on processing refill requests
  • Guided patients to use self-service tools in MyChart instead of sending messages

Read the full article on EpicShare