Portsmouth Abbey School Eases Administrative Burdens with Email Reminders and Online Charting

Rachel Kauffman
June 7, 2018
Case Studies, Student Health
5 Minute Read

Portsmouth Abbey School Eases Administrative Burdens with Email Reminders and Online Charting

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 it. I think it’s going to be even better next year.”

Pam Gorman, Director of Health Services

The Solution

As state requirements became more strict, and the frequency of student health conditions increased, Portsmouth Abbey realized the need for a new system to track and manage medical information. “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 Health on listservs that were all positive, and after further investigation, there were more options available than I originally expected,” 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 Health) to dictate his notes and has them set to be automatically emailed, “ said Gorman.

The Result

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 SHR, everyone was able to embrace the paperless environment. “One of my mistakes was forgetting to telling 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. In addition to enjoying an easy process, 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 now 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 Health, 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.

Portsmouth Abbey was able to really put Magnus Health SHR to the test when they faced a challenge no school wants to face — Hurricane Sandy. In October 2012, when Sandy quickly approached, and Portsmouth Abbey was already integrated with Magnus, Gorman approached Magnus Health Client Services for advice on how to handle a power outage, with all records stored online. The “Print All Requirements” feature, and Magnus911 cards allowed the Portsmouth Abbey nurses to pull down the pertinent information, in case a power outage prevented them from accessing the records online.

In addition, Client Services provided the option of faxing information as needed, should Portsmouth Abbey face that situation. “It took us about five to 10 minutes to get all the files we needed. We downloaded everything and managed to get through Sandy… I was afraid that with online medical records, we would have our first serious problem. But we didn’t, and everything worked out fine,” Gorman said. Client Services was a big part of helping Gorman and her team face the Sandy issue. “It’s fantastic service. It was one of my concerns switching over and it’s just amazing to see how quickly everything gets into the system,” Gorman added.

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.”

“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.