M-LINE helps create ‘seamless system of care’

March 25, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,
The M-LINE team visits Metro Health last fall.

In 2016, Michigan Medicine and Metro Health joined forces under an affiliation agreement. This partnership was a critical part of Michigan Medicine’s strategic priority of improving the value of care for patients and serving 3.5 million lives statewide.

The affiliation provides the west Michigan community access to the highest level of care where they live. It also enables Metro Health to further expand its research capabilities, primary care and specialty services, as well as use of complex medical technology.

But the collaboration doesn’t stop there. Recently, Metro Health reached out to the organization with a request to help them improve their transfer process with community hospitals — enabling them to provide better care for stroke and emergency patients, as well as the inpatient population.

In stepped M-LINE, Michigan Medicine’s referring physician 800 number.

M-LINE is a toll-free number for referring physicians to schedule appointments, speak to U-M providers, transfer patients and request patient information. M-LINE is available 24/7 and handles nearly 100,000 calls annually by 13,000 providers across Michigan and northern Ohio.

M-LINE and the Physician Relations and Outreach team is part of the Office of Patient Experience and they are uniquely suited to support Metro Health.

Great facilitators

Metro Health’s vision was to create a fast and efficient process for community hospitals to request stroke, ED-to-ED and inpatient transfers. Instead of creating a separate process, Metro Health was excited to leverage the customer-centric service that M-LINE is well known for. 

Nathan Baar, director of emergency and urgent care services at Metro Health, worked with Josie Aguirre, administrative director of physician relations and outreach, to set up Metro Health’s transfer process. 

“Working with M-LINE has been a great way to create a standardized process for our hospital,” said Baar. “Before we started working with M-LINE, outside hospitals would have to call multiple phone numbers before getting approval to transfer a patient. The M-LINE representatives are great facilitators.”

An engaging partnership

To prepare for this collaborative process improvement initiative, M-LINE representatives visited Metro Health last fall to learn more about the hospital operations and meet the emergency services staff. The M-LINE representatives were trained on Metro Health’s new messaging system called Vocera to reach Metro Health’s providers.

“Our staff were eager to partner and assist Metro Health in improving their transfer process. It was a win-win for everyone,” said Laura Rowland, M-LINE’s manager and assistant director for physician relations and outreach. 

The team is now working on establishing baseline data to determine who is calling, the response time and the transfer outcomes.  

“This is another great example of how Metro Health and Michigan Medicine are working together to create the coordinated and seamless system of care that our referring providers and patients expect when they see the ‘block M,’” said Scott A. Flanders, M.D., chief clinical strategy officer, professor of medicine and vice chair, Department of Medicine at Michigan Medicine. “We’re excited to see how this partnership plays out in the years ahead.”