Johns Hopkins, in conjunction with the Clinical Practice Association, is embarking upon a new method to monitor the closing of our clinic encounters. As detailed in several emails that you recently received, this process will be embedded in our current procedure for monitoring discharge summaries and operative notes. Once a month, the Department of Health Information Management (HIM) will take a snapshot of open clinic encounters that are older than 60 days, notify the provider about them and then allow one week to close them.
Why should we care about timely documentation and, in particular, closing our clinic encounters? There are many reasons grounded in patient safety and quality of care.
First, closing encounters permits other providers within our own institution to see such patient care plans and interventions. For clinic notes, transcribed dictations that have not been signed are not viewable by others. Closing the encounters allows for better care coordination and less duplication of effort.
Second, closing clinic encounters affords us the ability to pass information via these notes to referring and primary care physicians in the community. This promotes care continuity in that all physicians involved with the patient can “be on the same page” regarding various recommendations and treatments for the patient.
You may not know this, but your own professional fee for the services you rendered (which goes to the School of Medicine and Clinical Practice Association - not the hospital) will not be billed to third-party payers until these encounters are closed. You deserve credit for the work that you do.
And finally, I always recall the words of our colleague, Dr. Steve Sisson: “This is not a requirement that generates more work, but simply mandates that we do the same work in a more timely fashion.”
Of course, please feel free to call me or Dr. John Flynn at any time if you have questions about this process.
Thank you in advance for all of your efforts to ensure quality care for our patients.
-Redonda G. Miller, M.D., M.B.A.
Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs
Johns Hopkins Heath System