Columbia University Medical Center

Health Information Management Division Launches with New Director

Lloyd Torres, director of Health Information Management, ColumbiaDoctors.

Lloyd Torres, director of Health Information Management, ColumbiaDoctors.

Lloyd Torres has joined ColumbiaDoctors as director of Health Information Management to launch a new Health Information Management division of the faculty practice.

Chief among his responsibilities is to reduce medical records management duties from clinical sites so staff can focus on assisting physicians in patient care. One his key initiatives is the centralization of release of information (ROI).

“Medical records requests come into our sites through multiple venues and can be quite voluminous,” Torres said. These requests come from patients, attorneys, providers, and insurance companies, he said. “We have to produce medical records with tight deadlines across various media. The personnel involved represent a wide swath of our staff, including everyone from front desk to managers and even some nurses.”

Earlier this year, ColumbiaDoctors began a partnership with an electronic ROI (eROI) vendor and piloted the process in orthopedics and internal medicine, and have since expanded to other departments. The goal is to have all ColumbiaDoctors sites on CROWN using centralized eROI.

To facilitate urgent care, urgent and immediate requests are still processed by clinical sites. Staff at all clinical sites were trained in using eROI this summer; some additional training may be needed. Classes have been scheduled for mid-November and specifics will be distributed shortly.

Offloading eROI requests to a third party ensures a more secure and HIPAA-compliant process, supervised by experts in medical record releases, and eases the medical record management workload at our clinical practices. “Our eROI vendor does a great job of reviewing the charts before they go out to the requestor, catching mis-filings in the EHR,” Torres said. “They’ve also helped us lower response turnaround times to an average of less than two days, compared with nearly 10 days previously.”

Next, ColumbiaDoctors will expand its use of eROI to include large-volume insurance audit requests. “Managed care companies may request hundreds of charts at a time, which could be crippling from an operational standpoint if we tried to handle these requests ourselves at the practice level,” Torres said. “Looking ahead, we are exploring other medical record and document management services we hope to pilot next year, including centralized scanning and indexing and data conversions for other EMRs that will lessen the burden of medical records management for our faculty practices.”