Friday, November 22, 2013

Bidding adieu to the Blue Card


GOODBYE BLUES: Crowley shows off the Blue Card creations.

The MGH Blue Card has long been recognized as a critical component of the hospital’s registration and admitting process. For decades, the card was as essential to a patient as a passport is to a world traveler.

“When a patient would call to schedule an appointment, the first question asked was, ‘May I have your blue card number?’ says Nancy Connery, director of MGH Admitting and Registration Services. “It was like the American Express card – ‘Don’t leave home without it.’”

The Blue Card was once a means to access information such as insurance coverage, primary care physician and even a patient’s address. However, due to privacy regulations and increasing costs, the Business Services Team in Admitting and Registration Services has been working to phase the card out. On Oct. 1 – with very little fanfare but a lot of behind-the-scenes planning – production of the once beloved Blue Card ended.

“Patients felt like it was their identity, and staff felt uneasy about taking it away,” says Andrea Crowley, senior manager of the Business Services Team. “Now felt like the perfect time to phase it out. The Partners eCare project already has staff in a ‘change’ mindset, so a plastic embossed card seems like ancient history.”

Adds Connery, “The information on the cards was not always accurate, and at times the cards seemed contradictory to our patient-friendly service, as patients were sometimes redirected to registration just to obtain a card. Now the hospital is saving money, and even more importantly, patient feedback has been very positive.”

So what happens to the remaining few unused Blue Cards? Crowley’s office is putting them to use in a humorous and creative way. “We’ve made flip-flop necklaces, earrings, an action figure and even a video ... the possibilities are endless.”

Read more articles from the 11/22/13 Hotline issue.

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