Making my blue card as powerful as my ATM card

To be successful in the future, UMass Memorial Health Care must evolve from being a group of loosely associated companies (our hospitals, medical group, Community Healthlink and joint ventures) to become an integrated health care delivery system. Our evolution will be much like what the banking industry went through over the past three decades as it moved from a branch-centric model to a service-oriented system. There was a time, not too long ago, when most of us went to the local bank branch every week to cash or deposit our checks before the weekend came and all banking activity stopped.  

 I still remember the long lines on Thursdays and Fridays like it was yesterday. Thankfully, over time, banks moved from this branch-centric approach to a service-centric approach powered first by ATM cards and ATM machines and more recently by online services.


UMass Memorial is making all the moves necessary to make its blue patient information card as interconnected as any ATM card

 My bank now offers me fully integrated banking and investment services delivered 24/7 over the internet through a series of omnipresent-owned and affiliated ATM machines, and in the rare case, that I need a cashier’s check or to take out a loan through a series of branch offices. I can shop over the internet, pay for gas or get cash in an airport 3,000 miles away with my ATM card. I can do a lot with my account number and ATM card, things I couldn’t have dreamed of 30 years ago. My ATM card represents my connection to something larger than the local branch of my bank.

 Now compare the power of my ATM card to the little blue UMass Memorial card I carry in my wallet. My blue card only works at some of our branches and is just starting to give me access to the online services I want like prescription renewals, test results, appointment making, e-visits and communication with my providers … but that is all going to change.

By the end of this calendar year, we will have around 50,000 patients on our patient portal which will allow established patients to book appointments online, look up test results and communicate with their providers. In addition, we will also go live with e-visits available through our website for low acuity care and expand our virtual visit platform for delivering inpatient and outpatient consults remotely. This is in addition to offering new more convenient services like the urgent care centers we are opening. See press release.

During its evolution, the banking industry had to invest heavily in information technology, and so must we. Our current system is not integrated or user friendly, which is why will be rebuilding it and moving to a new, fully integrated system. Once the new health information system is up and running, my blue card and my account number will be much more powerful and useful across the system.

 It’s hard to predict exactly where medicine is going, but it is clear that, as the United States government works to bring the cost of health care down, integration of care by regional systems that connect all providers caring for a patient and provide a full spectrum of services will be most successful. Put another way: The health care systems with the most powerful cards will be best positioned to provide the most cost-effective care for a population and be most successful in the future.


Time to get your walking shoes out for the UMass Memorial “Walk across the System” challenge

 Summer Session of Our Wellness Program
Next week when we kick off our second Walk across the System challenge, we will also announce the summer session of our employee wellness program, myHealth Matters. Stay tuned for updates coming your way next week about the “three steps to $200” toward earning your Wellness Reward which is a flexible spending account we’ll set up for you (if you don’t already have one). Also, be assured your personal health information is completely confidential and is not accessible from our systems by our employees. Learn more: Visit


Heather Sawtelle-McKenzie

Heather Sawtelle-McKenzie, payroll/ accounts payable coordinator at UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital, an acti ve myHealth Matters participant, shares how the program has improved her life:

“The wellness program has helped me be more aware of what I eat and how I exercise. I have lost 15 lbs just by watching what I eat and making successful steps toward exercising and walking more.”

 When asked why she’d recommend this program to her peers, she said: “I would recommend this because I think that it is a great program! Everyone can do it. All it takes is small changes at your own pace and when you accomplish the little steps … the results can be huge!”


Patients can now get smoking cessation tips “on demand” at UMass Memorial Education Television

We have two Idea of the Week submissions this week. The first comes from the Medical Center. Greg Seward, director of Tobacco Free Initiatives of the Department of Psychiatry, created patient education videos to be viewed on UMass Memorial Education Television. There are five videos available to patients in their rooms and in the waiting rooms on both the University and Memorial campuses. All five videos are shown in a loop and can be viewed at the patient’s convenience. Greg is looking to enhance the service through funding from our Innovation Fund. Since the videos became available in this format, the views have gone up with one reaching the top 10 of videos ordered throughout system. To get the word out about the video availability, Greg designed an informational patient handout and has provided the handout to nurse directors to be sent to the nurses as a resource tool.


In this filing cabinet at Community Healthlink everything is in its proper place

Our second Idea of the Week comes from Community Healthlink and was submitted by Gavin Besmond, program director for the Crisis Stabilization Unit and Department of Mental Health Respite Beds Program in North County. Gavin’s program had a document management problem in one of its work areas. To address the issue the team reorganized a filing cabinet by purging unneeded documents and prioritizing the rest. New folders were created and documents with similar functions were grouped together. The reorganization included a color-coded system for ease of access. Finally, an inventory list is attached to the front of the cabinet detailing where a particular document can be found. The newly reorganized filing system has eliminated a lot of waste giving the team more time to focus on the services that benefit patients. Well done!

You can now find the Idea of the Week archive by clicking the Idea System tab at the top of this page.

Thanks for all your great ideas and for taking great care of our patients and one another, 


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