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Our Summer Checkup

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

We are past halfway through the year and, while I have an internal version of this blog post that’s tailored for our employees—and full of our jargon—I thought there’s a lot to share with our external audiences, too.

Based on the original plan and goals, we will NOT cross the finish line on time and this is a WONDERFUL thing. We have been cooking with gas and our work has been terrific! Some of that terrific work has been so because it has resulted in huge successes.

For example: DIY gear for both us and our CLIENTS! Our iFolks were in the offices over a weekend earlier this summer to sit vigil on our latest update release… and out popped a baby athenaClinicals, our EHR! It will be in beta for a while, but it is running happily in its iPhone crib. I literally got an email from a grown physician that started with “OMG!”

Futhermore, if we go to General Availability status on every project we have in beta, we estimate that it will result in a major reduction of held claims work for clients.

Now, you don’t get REAL success without coming up short every so often, and we’ve done a bit of that, too.

Care coordination is freakin’ hard. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem. Senders (practices submitting orders) only care about athenaCoordinator if there are a lot of receivers (hospitals and labs) ready to pay for their efforts. Receivers only care if there are a lot of SENDERS! We haven’t yet cracked the code on getting both going together, but we have learned a ton, like:

  • Use the app to promote the behavior you want
  • Start in smaller communities, then work your way up
  • Respect the fact that two hospitals in the same market are COMPETING

Also, diverting some wind from our sails is the notion of rules in all five stages of a practice workflow. We have launched a huge re-think of the user experience for docs, but it is so fundamental that all of it is still deeply in utero. Chances of real evidence of success this year… light.

Then there’s the notion of a game layer for the five key roles in an athenaNet practice. We dabbled at our last User Conference but haven’t followed through with continuous scoring, encouragement, rewards, etc. We need the business intelligence team at Anodyne to break us out of our static Practice Performance Review (PPR) technology and mindset so that the games can truly begin. Have you ever seen Anodyne in action? It’s wonderful! (Check out this client video.)

My biggest learning on all three of these reddish projects is that the really hard stuff needs intensive continuous focus from MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS at the same time. It’s uncomfortable, because it creates internal tension, but I think that tension forces better and faster refinement.

That said, this has been a great start to a great year. Shoot me any questions and feedback and I will do my best to respond. Thanks for reading!

Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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