The 3M HIS story: Finding a better way

Old black and white photos of 3M Health Information Systems employees
At 3M HIS, science is at the heart of everything we do.

3M Health Information Systems (HIS) has a rich history and a unique understanding of health data and its uses. We’ve spent the last 35 years inventing coding, grouping and natural language processing technology to improve the revenue cycle, create time to care for providers and drive value-based care. Our business has evolved from coding and abstracting to grouping and reimbursement to documentation and productivity to performance management. Our success is only because of our customer partners and the shared collaboration and insights. Who we are today is a reflection of where we’ve come from.

Here is our story.

A woman working at a computer

How it started

Our 3M mission is clear: Science applied to life. In 3M HIS, we use technology to advance health care to improve every life.

How do we easily and accurately categorize medical data?

In the early days of health care, medical coders manually read charts to look for diagnoses and procedures. Then they had to manually match those concepts to numerical codes found in alphabetical and numerical indexes of dense coding books.

But years ago, an IT guy working in the department of former LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City believed there was a better, more efficient and accurate way. John Morgan knew computers could be built to think like doctors. Not the other way around. He believed in the concept so strongly that he built a mainframe in the back of his RV and toured the country; pitting his CodeFinder System against the best medical coders he could find. Seeing the value in digitizing medical records, health care organizations began redirecting budgets earmarked for microfilm to Morgan’s new medical coding software.

A doctor using a stethoscope during an exam with a young boy

How much should it cost to treat a patient?

In 1983, 3M caught wind of Morgan’s technology. With 3M’s resources and commitment to innovation, health care now had an accurate and efficient way to categorize a patient by diagnosis. But, how could we find out what the cost to treat that patient was? At the time, hospitals were reimbursed on a cost basis model, sending charges directly to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) for reimbursement. CMS was looking for a solution to better manage the cost variability since different hospitals were charging vastly different amounts to treat similar patients with similar diagnoses.

Simply put: The total cost of care is a function of unit cost times volume. But, how could we determine a unit cost in health care? Let’s take a patient with COPD for example. In this case, we have a diagnosis and a diagnostic code. Let’s call the treatment of a diagnosis the “product.” Grouping patients together by related diagnoses allows us to identify like patients. Then we can begin to evaluate the average resource utilization to treat the diagnosis, essentially creating a base unit cost for health care. It was such a powerful concept that in 1983, Medicare adopted it as the basis of the inpatient prospective payment system for federal reimbursement in all 50 states.

A doctor explaining something to a patient

How do we accurately document everything that occurred clinically?

In the subsequent years, 3M progressed from coding and classification to grouping and benchmarking methodologies. In the 90s, we added software and services to improve the clinical documentation process. With an eye toward productivity challenges our customers were facing in the transition to ICD-10, we combined our technical and clinical expertise and launched our 3M™ 360 Encompass™ System. This first of its kind platform seamlessly integrated computer-assisted coding, clinical documentation integrity, concurrent quality metrics and analytics and proprietary natural language processing tools into a single application to capture, analyze and advance patient information across the continuum of care.

A business team having a discussion

How do we meet accuracy and productivity demands?

3M is the most widely used medical coding software in the world with more than 300 active industry and technology partners. More than 40 states and more than 25 countries use our software as the basis for payment. And more than 1,700 hospitals rely on 3M 360 Encompass to processes more than 60 million unique health care records each month. For almost 40 years, we’ve worked with government agencies, including CMS, to develop and update both public domain and proprietary grouping and benchmarking algorithms and classifications systems. Our risk adjustment algorithms calculate accurate benchmarks for more than 2 percent of the U.S. GDP.

As the health care world moves from volume to value, 3M HIS is uniquely positioned to play a significant role in reducing physician burnout. That’s why we focus our efforts on creating technology that removes administrative burdens and puts the clinician back in the clinical setting more often. Our combined expertise with M*Modal, acquired in 2019, brings together the power of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding (NLU) to create technology that delivers real time clinical insights to clinicians, clinical documentation integrity (CDI) specialists and coding teams. Our deep knowledge of health plans launched the creation of our payer services solutions that aggregates data, compares populations risk and calculates the total cost of care so payers have the complete picture – helping to derive valuable data insights, drive sustainable process improvements and improve health outcomes.

Gloved hands picking up surgical instruments

How do we improve patient safety and outcomes?

We help physicians capture the complete and accurate patient story, which in turn helps to drive better quality outcomes data and improved revenue integrity. This means fewer CDI queries, less workflow disruptions, reduced administrative burdens on physician and most importantly: more time for patient care. In short, 3M is changing clinical workflows from a reactive model to a proactive model that fixes issues before they become a real problem.

A doctor using a stethoscope during a patient's exam

How can we continue to do more with less?

For the better part of the last four decades, we’ve been innovating technologies that improve the efficiency of health care and for the next few decades, we’re working to improve the experience of health care—for everyone, whether they be patients, doctors, nurses, CDI specialists, health plans or coders.

Historically, our new solutions and approaches are in response to not only market trends, but to our clients’ unique needs. Our deep history and knowledge, and most importantly, our passion, will continue to drive our quest to make the experience of health care better for everyone.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING] Let's go into a future for health care that cuts clutter and connects faster. Where we begin to take power back from processes that threaten your time and your bottom line. Where we replace and reduce, creating one clear path for accurate claims and accurate care. Where health care begins to be better, smarter, faster, in decision making and life-changing. Where doctors begin to see more faces than screens. And leaders begin to see more discoveries in data for staffing, for saving, for long term security. Where from beginning to end, from capture to code, health care is streamlined and reporting is seamless. For 3M, this was never just imagination. This was the start of innovation. Today, for us, the future has begun. We are 3M. Let's go.

    Doctor having a conversation with a patient
    The future of health care is here. Let’s go.

    Join 3M as we pursue the future today. From capture to code, we’re on a journey to make health care better, faster, stronger.

  • 3M HIS Is Great Video � Described Video (DESCRIBED VIDEO) 3M science applied to life logo appears on screen. Logo fades and title text appears that reads: 3M Health Information Systems. More than 35 years. Exceeding clients� expectations. But don�t take our word for it. Here�s what our clients have to say: (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Debbie Schrubb begins speaking and title text appears on screen over video. Debbie Schrubb, director of HIM and documentation excellence, Kettering Health Network (DEBBIE SCHRUBB) 3M helped us work together to make sure that we had our data accurate and to show that the changes that we made a statistical difference for us. They also helped us get everything all set up and made sure that we knew how we were going to train our staff. So actually 3M has been a great partner through this process. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Tammy Sunderlin begins speaking and title text appears on screen over video. Tammy Sunderlin, Vice president of quality and risk management, Auburn Community Hospital. (TAMMY SUNDERLIN) We went with 3M because 3M has experts in the field. We're able to achieve with 3M a perspective that we may not have been able to get ourselves, evaluating ourselves. It was very beneficial to have 3M come in and look at those areas and say, "Yes, they validated that your data supports it. You have some opportunities to decrease your length of stay in regards to a specific diagnosis or a specific disease process." So that helped to narrow down the area we were going to focus on and what type of project we were going to embark on together. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from Dr. Arif S. Kidwai, Chief of radiology at Flagler Health appears on screen that reads, �As an end user, I am delighted with our 3M solutions. They�ve made my life easier in so many ways. 3M�s dedication to excellence has direct benefits to care and quality that make patient outcomes better. For that, I am deeply appreciative.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from Nathan Stutt, CFO at Sheridan Memorial Hospital appears on screen that reads, �We wanted to be a five-star-rated quality hospital by CMS standards. To do that, we needed better ways to capture the patient story in real time. We went back to 3M for the software tools and coaching we needed to revitalize our CDI program.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Hollee Hamilton begins speaking and title text appears on screen over video. Hollee Hamilton, Chief analyst, Coding integrity, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. (HOLLEE HAMILTON) 3M has allowed me to grow as a coder, but also to grow as an educator. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from David Stewart, Chief information officer at OneOncology appears on screen that reads, �3M M*Modal Fluency Direct fits our organization so well because it literally gives time back to the providers.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from the director of HIM outpatient coding at a Level 1 trauma center appears on screen that reads, �3M has partnered with us side-by-side, working on various custom enhancements, including enhanced reporting for reconciliation and system validation and more granularity in the 3M provider tables and provider billing area add-ons. We are excited about our relationship with 3M and these custom enhancements. The system is working beautifully.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Tammy Sunderlin continues speaking. (TAMMY SUNDERLIN) 3M has always been honest. It may not have been what we wanted to hear, but it is what we needed to hear to move ahead. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from Shauna Laffitte, Health information and records manager at Sheridan Memorial Hospital appears on screen that reads, �Training from 3M CDI experts has been fundamental in driving our team�s collaboration.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Andrea Eastwood begins speaking and title text appears on screen over video. Andrea Eastwood, Director of clinical encounter and documentation excellence, Trinity Health. (ANDREA EASTWOOD) Our partnership with 3M has been key to our success. They help us if we have any implementation obstacles. They're just a phone call away. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) A quote from Robbi Morris, Coordinator of clinical documentation improvement at Sheridan Memorial Hospital appears on screen that reads, �Working with 3M experts has helped our teams refine their CDI and coding skills. 3M has given us a common language and an integrated set of tools to pursue this goal.� (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Mike Fay begins speaking and title text appears on screen over video. Michael D. Fay, Vice President, Health Networks and Innovation, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. (MICHAEL D. FAY) The suite of products that we have from 3M have been a vital part of our ability to not only measure, but to incent people. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Tammy Sunderlin appears again. (DESCRIBED VIDEO) Video fades out and 3M science applied to life logo appears.

    Video still of Debbie Schrubb, director of HIM and documentation excellence at Kettering Health Network
    We wrote the book

    For more than 35 years, we’ve been writing the book on how to improve health care. But don’t take our word for it, hear from our clients.


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