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
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