Portsmouth Abbey School eases
administrative burdens with
email reminders and online charting.


Location: Portsmouth, RI

Type: Catholic Boarding and Day

Size: 360 students

Grades: K – 12

Contact Person: Pam Gorman, Director of Health Services

The Challenge

When Pam Gorman, Director of Health Services, began working at Portsmouth Abbey 30 years ago, she could track all student medications on a single sheet of paper. Now, manually tracking that information requires far more paper, space, and time to cover the 360 students. “These days there are so many more allergies and children with EpiPens,” Gorman said. Adding to changes in the student population, are the Rhode Island Department of Health requirements, which are now much more strict and comprehensive in nature, requiring more immunizations and detailed documentation than in years past.

“It became very difficult, stressful, and time-consuming,” Gorman said, noting that forms were mailed to parents in May, and “then I would spend the entire summer re-mailing, faxing, and making phone calls. During our summer program, I spent two days per week, 10 hours each day, over four weeks, and even more time at home,” to collect all of the information. The forms were due in mid-July to allow time to get paper charts in order, lists of allergies and care plans created, and files in place for the start of the school year. In addition to the paper and time headaches, Gorman said, “communication was sometimes difficult because we have a physician, five nurses, and an athletic trainer who work different days throughout the week, and all need to share information.”

“We love the program and are very happy to be using. I think it’s going to be even better next year.”

— Pam Gorman, Director of Health Services

The Solution

“We wanted a solution for a couple of years, but had budgetary restrictions,” Gorman said, adding that they were not aware of too many options that could fulfill all of their needs while providing adequate technical support. “We saw comments about Magnus on listservs that were all positive,” Gorman said.

Portsmouth Abbey was especially fond of the features that saved time and streamlined processes: weekly email reminders to parents, tracking of incoming information, a charting module, and the ability to provide parents with access to treatment notes when necessary. “We used to translate, then scan our physician’s notes and email them to the parents. Now our physician uses Dragon (which is compatible with Magnus) to dictate his notes and has them set to be automatically emailed,” said Gorman.

The Result

A simple implementation process.

Gorman expressed her initial reservations with switching to a web-based system, recalling that “we were kind of hesitant because we were afraid of what it would be like when the paper went away.” However, after implementation and becoming acquainted with an electronic Student Health Record (SHR), everyone was able to embrace the paperless environment. “One of my mistakes was forgetting to tell parents they should not mail [forms] to us. I did a lot of scanning that I will not be doing next year, but I learned that [the process] is very simple. If I can do it, the only excuse that a parent would have is that they do not have a computer,” Gorman said.

No more paper means less administrative burden.

Portsmouth Abbey no longer mails any forms and the digital environment has dramatically shortened the amount of time it takes to collect the required information. The charting module also solved a pain point and is easy to scroll through, particularly when compared to flipping through pages of a paper chart. Because information is so easily tracked and accessed, Portsmouth Abbey is even rethinking how frequently physicals must be completed.

“Now that we have Magnus, we might consider doing a physical every other year because it will be so much easier to track when a student is due,” said Gorman.

Access to information in an emergency

Parent ease of use is a big positive for Hebron Academy. “[Parent] response is evident in their compliance. They do it and in a timely manner. It is easy for them and they know what has to be done,” Tardif said. She also noted the system is user-friendly for international parents. “We also have a 35% international population. Parents from around the world use SMR without difficulty,” she said.

Improved communication across departments.

Communication with parents is always a big plus for schools, but Portsmouth Abbey reaped increased communication benefits internally as well. “The biggest [benefit] has been the communication between all the nurses and across departments – we never used to know what the athletic trainer was doing, and now we can see the notes that we need to see,” Gorman said. The schedule of five nurses and one doctor often means the opportunity for communication issues, but “from home, nurses can see what’s been going on during their days off, and feel better being caught up when they return to work. It saves us so much time from doing double work because we can see what’s been said to parents, and it’s drastically improved internal communications.” steps she followed.

“The biggest benefit has been the communication between all the nurses and across departments.”

— Pam Gorman, Director of Health Services


Gorman and her team at Portsmouth Abbey took a chance, moving from a manual, paper-based system, and though they were hesitant about changing all of their processes, success with Magnus has them looking forward to using SHR in years to come. “We love the program and are very happy to be using it. I think it’s going to be even better next year,” Gorman said.

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