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Cross-Training and Team Effort Ends Scanning Backlogs

Staff learns each job for greater efficiency

Scanning patient files into HealthConnect is a big and important job.

Even with HealthConnect up and running, many paper records still require scanning into the system. And 24/7 scanning centers like Oakland’s are responsible for getting the records digitized as quickly as possible.

Backlogs were common at the East Bay Scan Center, when workloads escalated or employees were out sick or on vacation. The UBT jumped in to find lasting workflow solutions.

There are several steps to the scanning process: preparing and reviewing paper records; scanning and indexing these records into the department’s internal computer system; doing a quality assurance review; and entering the records into the HealthConnect database.

What the UBT found was each employee had a specialty, so they trained them to do all of the jobs in the department for greater flexibility. The department set up teams to share workloads assembly-line style from start to finish, and work passed among team members to keep the flow moving.

“We didn’t know if it was going to work. We went in a few times to tweak it and get it right,” says Virginia Braxton, Scan Center indexer and member of OPEIU Local 29. “Everybody here put their best foot forward and we did this with no overtime. We hunkered down and did what we needed to do.”

Some duties rotated, such as having one employee each month in charge of distributing work to the teams. But employees were encouraged to help as needed rather than wait for work. When work was caught up, all employees took the credit.

It took a little more than a year to get the process to really pay off, but the team dropped their average scanning turnaround time from eight days to 32 hours, faster than the regional target of 48 hours.

“We now have multiskilled teams that can do everything,” says management co-lead Lionel Bazemore. “We can backfill each other.”

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