Lifebridge Health Goes Paperless with Patient Records

An Innovation Case Study

A new process eliminates paper medical record storage costs while improving record quality.

Personal health information can help save lives. But is there such thing as too much information? LifeBridge Health, one of Maryland’s largest, most comprehensive health-care systems, discovered an opportunity to do away with redundant medical records while significantly improving the quality of patient health information. LifeBridge’s innovative solution reduced storage costs while increasing information accuracy and integrity—all with the goal of improving service delivery, efficiency and patient outcomes.

innovation skills


Reduce the Labor and Cost of Storing Paper Records

The time and cost of retaining the paper records was siphoning resources that could be better invested in improving the quality of the information in the digital records. Like many other health-care facilities, Life Bridge hospitals were retaining paper copies of medical records for years, even after transitioning to an electronic health information system with built-in digital backups.


Apply Three Innovation Skills

Ryan Marnen, LifeBridge’s Director of System Health Information Management, was a participant in the award-winning Innovator’s Accelerator™ learning experience provided by Apollo Education Group. Through Innovator’s Accelerator™, Ryan learned key skills to generate and implement innovation. He applied three of those skills—questioning, observing and experimenting—to address the issues of health-record redundancy and quality at one of LifeBridge’s three acute-care hospitals.

He applied the skill of observing to witness and analyze how staff members were going about scanning paper records into the digital format. He observed gaps in the quality of the digital files. For example, portions of the record might be located in the wrong part of the patient’s chart (the file that contains the patient’s medical history, physician notes, medication lists, test results, etc.). He also found that staff members lacked trust in the reliability and completeness of the digital records.

Ryan applied the skill of questioning to re-examine time-worn processes. He asked questions such as: “Why are we saving hard copies when we already have the electronic record and digital backups?” and “How can we increase the reliability of the electronic information we are capturing?”

Ryan used the skill of experimenting to pilot new quality-assurance processes and phase out the retention of paper duplicates in selected areas of the hospital, one after the other. Part of the experiment involved monitoring the reliance on hard copies vs. digital versions only. He found that with more rigorous quality-control procedures in place for electronic information capture, paper backups became superfluous.


Improve Digital Data Capture

Having validated the effectiveness of the pilot process through measured results, Ryan institutionalized the new quality-assurance processes across all areas of patient care throughout the hospital. He implemented a digital-only record-keeping policy which streamlined and unified the record-retention process. He then implemented the same policy and procedures at a second LifeBridge hospital, and plans to roll out the new processes at LifeBridge’s third hospital in the near future.

The same innovative processes that resulted in higher-quality clinical record-keeping at LifeBridge hospitals can be used in other types of medical facilities such as physician practices, nursing homes or outpatient clinics. These processes can also be used in other functional areas such as Human Resources or Legal Services that depend on the accuracy, completeness and long-term retrievability of records for service delivery and compliance.

—Ryan Marnen, Director of System Health Information Management, Lifebridge Health


Higher Clinical Quality and Lower Costs

As a result of implementing an innovative solution, LifeBridge has succeeded in:

  • Improving the quality, reliability and usefulness of patient records.
  • Ensuring that the quality of patient health information supports the highest quality of clinical care.
  • Eliminating the costs of redundant paper-record management and storage. Over time, LifeBridge will realize cumulative cost savings that increase exponentially year over year, as long-term storage of paper records becomes a thing of the past.
lifebridge soulution


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