Malmstrom's Outpatient Records takes care of Airmen's medical history

  • Published
  • By Airman Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The 341st Medical Group is responsible for all medical and dental care for more than 10,000 beneficiaries throughout Montana. It's mission - to maximize Team Malmstrom's health, fitness and readiness through comprehensive managed health care systems emphasizing health promotion and preventative medicine.

For every beneficiary and active duty service member the clinic cares for, an accurate medical history record must be kept, maintained and, if needed, delivered to appropriate institutions in a timely manner. This is where the 341st MDG's Outpatient Records office comes in.

"We deal with records information from all medical facilities Air Force wide and sometimes with the other branches of service facilities," said Lisa Ripley, 341st Medical Support Squadron medical administration technician. "As people retire, change duty stations and deploy one of the most important items that follow them is their medical records.

"The information in these records help medical personnel accurately treat patients when the time is right, and play a huge part in helping patients who have important medical histories get the proper care they need, which may vary based on their medical history," she continued.

For Malmstrom's OR clinic staff, the office's release of information section carries the largest workload.

Requests range between 80 and 150 cases a month and members retiring from active duty are required to have their medical records retired within 30 days of separation.

"We register approximately 50 to 90 new patients monthly," said Ripley. "For these members, we add all of their information into what is called the composite health care system, a system used to accurately and quickly track all members' records."

Even military members' medical appointments must be recorded. This puts a workload of about 600 additional items on the staff's list of things to do. Lastly, out of the three main records processes, dispatching records to gaining bases accounts for an additional 70 to 100 items per month.

According to the office staff, processing every record accurately and in a timely manner is paramount.

Violating a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as a HIPAA violation, is something to steer clear of at all times, said Ripley. 

A HIPAA violation is the willful or non-willful violation of the security, administrative or technical safeguards that keep patients' personal information safe. For the OR team, this means being precise with everything they do.

"There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people don't even realize due to the nature of our job working with protected information," said Airman Logan Schmidt, 341st MDSS health administration specialist. "We really do work hard to make sure that people have exactly what they need when they need it.

"The people here work as a team every day to get the job done," he continued. "The job can get monotonous at times but we know how important it is to provide our customers with excellent service and how much these records mean to them and their families."