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Expectant mothers who plan to deliver at Yale-New Haven (CT) Hospital can access a maternity Web site that offers a wealth of practical and clinical information including a preadmission form that allows them to preregister on-line.
The impetus for the on-line preadmission form, says Emmy van Beugen, RN, admitting manager, was an annual "Building for Birth" meeting with the staffs of obstetricians who deliver babies at the hospital. When some of the attendees suggested it would be convenient for maternity patients to register via the Internet, it reaffirmed an idea her own staff have already voiced.
"We just felt we had to stay current with technology," van Beugen notes. "It’s too easy to fall behind. Our maternity Web site is a great site, and this was a normal extension of what was already there.
"We put together a small group of our admitting employees and gave them the responsibility to decide on the content of the form," she adds. "We then submitted this to the information systems department, which designed the format and linked it to the maternity Web site. It took a couple of months, but the result was well worth it." (See excerpt from the form.)
The form first appeared on-line in June 2000 and elicited "a handful of responses," van Beugen says. "We contacted our marketing department to help us design a postcard to market the on-line form." The postcard includes the hospital’s congratulations on the impending birth and a line that reads, "Preadmission registration is just a mouse click away!"
In mid-October, she adds, the hospital began putting the postcard in the packet of information already being sent to maternity patients. Since then, van Beugen says, "there has been a significant rise in the use of the on-line form, with as many as 10 per week being submitted."
There are plans to increase marketing efforts further. "We have an admission coordinator who is a liaison with the obstetrician practices in the community," she notes. "She will be visiting their offices and providing them with a supply of the postcards and a stand for display."
When physicians notify the admitting department that a patient plans to deliver her baby at Yale-New Haven Hospital, an admitter creates a booking for that patient in the computer system, van Beugen explains. The system automatically creates a letter, personalized for each patient, that accompanies the preadmission packet, she adds. The patient is offered the option of either completing and then mailing the enclosed form or of registering on-line.
When the patient submits the on-line form, it is sent to the hospital as an e-mail, van Beugen says. "One of our main concerns was that we could guarantee the patient that the information submitted was confidential," she adds. "Therefore, the information is encrypted so that it is secure en route. Once it passes through the hospital’s firewall, it is received at an e-mail address set up specifically for that purpose. It is only accessible to the admitting staff."
Receiving the form on-line does not lessen the admitting workload, van Beugen notes. "The idea is customer service." However, she points out, there is some advantage in copying forms that are typed rather than handwritten. Also, the on-line form includes additional questions — regarding living wills, for example — that are normally asked after the patient arrives at the hospital, she says.
Patients who access the maternity Web site also find links to a variety of related topics, van Beugen adds, including childbirth classes, visiting hours, parking, and an explanation of the hospital bill.