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All Things EMR | Meaningful Use

The Stage 2 Meaningful Use Webinar Series


First, thanks to all 557 of you who registered for our March 21 webinar, “The Next Step in Meaningful Use: Responding to and Preparing for Stage 2.” It was our highest registration and attendance of the year. If you missed it, all our webinars are available on-demand anytime, including the March 21 presentation— and luckily, there’s no grilling by any Supreme Court justices.   

As far as webinar success goes, this one also featured really good questions from you. We always try to answer as many as we can during a live webinar and then follow up later. Kudos to those of you who had done your Meaningful Use homework!

Given the popularity of this Stage 2 MU webinar, we’re planning to do it again April 25. In order to make it the best experience possible, we’re asking for your input: What questions do you have about Stage 2? Do you want to know how to use your EHR more efficiently to achieve the measures?  Do you have questions about health reform in general? (While I have your attention, I recommend taking a look at an awesome health care reform guide from Thomson Reuters, titled “Vocabulary of Healthcare Reform”.)  

Monitoring government and industry activities, and asking for input, is all a usual part of our software development and client service. Take, for instance, the Meaningful Use pilot and the Stage 1 testing we conducted to prepare our clients for Meaningful Use of our EHR. As we did last year for Stage 1, we’ll continue to provide you a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing, so you can benefit from our network of knowledge. 

Here’s an example, a video we produced when we were in the thick of it with Stage 1. There’s actually quite a bit involved … Ah, the good old days.

So now that we’re moving on to Stage 2, let us know your questions. What can we answer for you? Just email  blog@athenahealth.com or leave your question in a comment below.

Stay tuned. We’ll ask for more input next week.


All Things EMR | Care Coordination | Practice Management

Get Great, Coordinate at the athenahealth 2012 User Conference


If you’re one of the more than 850 doctors, practice managers, nurses, executives and others already registered for our 2012 User Conference, we have a jam-packed schedule waiting for you and your colleagues starting Sunday in Boston.

And if you haven’t yet signed up, but would still like to attend, you’ll be happy to know that registration remains open.

We will present over 50 different sessions on everything from what’s happening with EMRs, Meaningful Use and health information technology on Capitol Hill, to how to maximize schedule density at your medical practice.

Not only will Abraham Verghese, MD—renowned physician and author of bestselling novel “Cutting for Stone”—be here in Boston to deliver the keynote address, but the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Farzad Mostashari, MD, will speak as well. 

Doctors can enroll in CME courses and everyone has a chance to win big—for charity, of course—at our exciting Casino Night. We’ll have a hall set up just for sponsors and exhibitors and rooms dedicated to product demo presentations throughout each day.

athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush will outline our strategy for 2012 … and you’ll go home knowing why care coordination represents an important opportunity in your community, whether you are a smaller practice or a large health care system.

Finally, some of you are going to win some great awards for supporting athenahealth’s mission of making health care work as it should.

You can still sign up for the User Conference. And if you can’t make it this year, we’ll report out on the blog, on Twitter with hashtag #athenahealthUC and via other social media channels.


All Things EMR | Meaningful Use | Practice Management

See How an EMR Helps a Large Oregon Practice Achieve Meaningful Use


At athenahealth, we get out to client practices as often as possible to gather their stories, see how we’ve helped them, and develop case studies and video testimonials to share with you. Just last week we flew down to Charlotte to visit an infectious disease clinic just outside the city and an anesthesia practice near downtown.

In a few weeks we’ll share videos and case studies from those visits that illustrate how these practices have improved clinical and business performance with our cloud-based services.

Here’s a good example: In October, right after the MGMA conference concluded in Las Vegas, we went up to Evergreen Family Medicine in Roseburg, Oregon. Evergreen is a thriving practice that was able to quickly achieve Meaningful Use with our EMR.

Here’s their story…


All Things EMR | Patient Engagement

How an EMR Fits with HIV Patients


You can find the Rosedale Infectious Diseases medical practice in a nondescript cluster of nondescript offices, just off Interstate 77 in Huntersville, NC.

If you get back on the highway and head south you’ll come up on the jutting skyline of Charlotte pretty quickly. Go northbound and you’re on the way to West Virginia. There’s a popular joint around the corner from Rosedale that sells a hamburger for $1.19 and about 40 flavors of milkshake, including something called an Orange Push Up.

The overwhelming bulk of Rosedale’s roughly 2,000 patients are HIV-positive. It has been 30 years since the first report of an AIDS diagnosis and Rosedale exists to help people manage the disease, one that was once deemed a death sentence. Perhaps emblematic of the evolution from that line of thinking is a photo in the waiting room, of Rosedale medical director Frederick A. Cruickshank, MD with basketball legend Magic Johnson.

Rosedale opened its doors in 2006 and uses athenahealth’s practice management service, athenaCollector and  EMR, athenaClinicals. We paid a visit to Rosedale ID earlier this week  to speak with practice manager, Dale Pierce, who’ll be receiving the athenahealth Vision Award at our User Conference in Boston the first week of April. The Vision Award recognizes those who “Make health care work as it should.”

Pierce was nominated by three of his colleagues for his work both in the practice and out in the community. One of them shared that Pierce has made the practice more like a family for patients, rather than just another clinical way station. In her nomination, she says “… as our clinic is a sanctuary for HIV positive patients, Dale has become a light of hope. He is a shining example that people can rise above HIV and live happy healthy full lives.”

We got to talk with two Rosedale patients. Both are HIV-positive. We were pleasantly surprised to hear them talk about how, as patients with complicated care needs, they can appreciate the efficiency an EMR can offer.

For example, one patient was diagnosed 20 years ago and has nearly a dozen doctors. In paper form, her medical records have taken on the heft of a phonebook. But now that Rosedale ID has converted to athenahealth, all that information can be accessed quickly with just a few clicks and keystrokes in the EMR. And she likes that.

You can meet her and Dale and some other folks from Rosedale in an upcoming case study. And stay tuned for dispatches from the other practices we’ve visited recently. If you’re attending the User Conference, watch for our video from Huntersville during the awards ceremony.


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Stopping the Silliness of athenahealth’s Beast


Remember the beast?

Well, we had to let him go, back into the Everglades. Sadly, he’s gone. While athenahealth employees may love snappy, silly, highly metaphorical expressions of our mission, it seems that doctors … well, not so much.

As one doctor told me at one of our conferences in Maine last year, “If you want to turn me off, flash a big bunch of colors and an animated octopus with happy people in my face. If you want to turn me on, give me some Courier 12-pt. font with data I haven’t seen anywhere before!”

I think he’s right. Of course he’s right.

This is what turns me on most about athenahealth: Find me another living data set with 32,700 providers seeing a pool of 25 million patients in a single, Oracle database where one administrator has the right and skill to adjust and administer the fields, which are captured 24/7! We are sitting on so much untapped truth and our marketing has been … well, really rather cute. And not that serious.

So here is Version 1 of the new, more mature athenahealth.

It’s a campaign we call “This is How.” Yes, we expect it to look more boring, at the same time that our command of the content we sit on (and our confidence) improves.

Why Were We So Flashy?

Partly, I think the flashiness was due to the worst fears of flash-haters: that we didn’t actually have much to say. Even if we had a lot to say and just didn’t understand what it was, we felt we had to say it all in lots of colorful ways.

Also though, the kinds of people we need to make athenahealth function smoothly are young, brilliant and hungry for an emotional connection to their work. It seems we were advertising to ourselves. It may have felt good but it wasn’t on mission for our clients.

Our clients feel a connection to their work, too and it is emotional–but there is a stewardship component to it that we are only just starting to feel. Our clients started their careers by taking the Hippocratic Oath … “First, Do No Harm”…  Nifty, high-speed Internet companies that soar to the moon with new inventions can also fail spectacularly, and many do. With cool game apps and nifty smartphones, this is just fine. Not so with human lives.

During our 13 years, we have accumulated one of the most powerful assets for innovation in the history of health care: the ability to surveil, in real time, what happens and what doesn’t … what works and what doesn’t.

From Flash to Facts

So, rather than spend tens of millions of dollars yelling the same three things we need you to hear, in ever louder and more colorful ways, we have decided instead to spend more, most of it over time, on a whisper of new truth.

We know how many times a doctor’s orders have actually been updated in the charts as a result … and no one else does. We know the biggest black holes and no one else does. We know how long it takes for a result to come back if it is going to do so. We know that certain vaccinations are under-reimbursed nearly half the time when the total cost to the physician, beyond the cost of acquisition of a specific vaccine, is considered. 

We know so many things like this … and we want to have a reason to know more … and to share it. So from now on, we have decided to make that part of our marketing budget.

Last year, for the first time, we saw a Ph.D. defended with the help of athenaNet. The candidate used athenaClinicals EHR data to understand the optimal organizational structure of a medical practice. This year, we want to try three more peer-reviewed studies.

We want our marketing to be as “on mission” as account management and operations. We want to wipe out the huge mistake of buying software for health care in 2012. We are growing up a little each year and this year, that means we will learn to be patient and on mission with our marketing.

We hope you like it… but we REALLY hope you use it.

PS… Please feel free to follow the link above to watch “This is How” and then come back here and call BS if you think it’s still too flashy!! Still miss the Beast? I heard he didn’t last long down there in the Everglades.


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