Skills For Medical Release Of Information Specialists
Today’s medical release of information (ROI) specialists wear many hats and must possess many skills. At a very high level, ROI specialists must be highly proficient in medical terminology and the specific components of an electronic health record (EHR). They must also be able to perform data entry as well as navigate through a variety of computer systems efficiently and effectively. As we continue to venture into an increasingly electronic and ICD-10-driven environment, ROI specialists must focus on these four skills/competency areas to be successful:
- General attention to detail. ROI specialists must be able to quickly identify and verify the information being requested. During a time when records have become incredibly voluminous thanks to added data capture, attention to detail is critical. ROI specialists must ensure accuracy by cross-checking the name and date of birth on the request with the patient’s name and date of birth in the hospital information system. Before sending the information, ROI specialists must verify the fax number, mailing address, or email address of the recipient. They must also check every page prior to releasing the information to confirm that no other patient information has been included in the packet.
- Understanding of state and federal rules and regulations. ROI specialists must be able to identify legally-protected information and know when to request a court order or the patient’s specific consent.
- Knowledge of hospital-specific policies and procedures. ROI specialists must follow policies and procedures at all times. These policies and procedures may include different definitions for sensitive information as well as the legal health record. Policies also define specific expectations for ROI turnaround time.
- Ability to prioritize requests. As patients become more engaged in their healthcare, the volume of requests for information will likely increase over time. ROI specialists must be able to prioritize these requests to ensure patient satisfaction. For example, a patient who has requested that information be sent to a referring physician for an appointment in one hour should receive priority over a patient whose insurance requests information by the end of the day. ROI specialists must be able to use their judgment when responding in these types of situations.
Throughout the transition to EHRs, the ROI function has become increasingly complex, requiring significant attention to detail and new skills for ROI professionals. Successful ROI specialists are those who remain open to change and who are willing to adapt over time.