"We wanted to see our money"
What was office manager Phyllis Buries of Deerpath Primary Care looking for in a
medical billing system? Control.
"We wanted to see our money," Buries said. The three physician primary care practice
located in a northern suburb of Chicago had outsourced its medical billing but it wasn't going
well. "We had no control over the process. We couldn't see what was being done, such
as when claims were filed or how much was paid. What was really concerning is that
some denials were being written off as bad debt without our knowledge."
Getting a Handle on Financial Performance
Once the practice selected athenaCollector, athenahealth's innovative cloud-based
medical billing and practice management service, these problems went away. "With
athenaCollector, we can immediately correct any problems before the claims go out,"
Buries said. "Before, we had to submit a claim and then wait to see if it would be paid
athenaCollector, through its patient registration, scheduling, eligibility checking,
claims processing, and robust reporting functions, provides the practice with a clear
window into practice finances.
"Days in accounts receivable decreased significantly, and there has been at least a
40% increase in our revenue," Buries enthused. "We can see what the insurers are
paying, and we can appeal any denials immediately with the right documentation.
Now we have a real handle on how we are doing financially."
Adopting an EHR with "no disruption whatsoever"
Impressed by athenaCollector's performance, in 2007 the practice implemented
athenaClinicals, a wholly integrated EHR solution. Like athenaCollector,
athenaClinicals offers a truly different approach to electronic health records, including
cloud-based service, a constantly updated clinical rules engine, and dedicated
"virtual back office" support.
"When we started with athenaClinicals there was no disruption whatsoever," said
Buries. "athenahealth helped prepare and scan our charts so everything was ready
electronically right away."
Lisa Dandrea Lenell, MPAS, PA-C, director of clinical services for the practice, has
been a big proponent of athenaClinicals since the beginning. "It has helped us
improve access to and accuracy of patient information." What's more, athenaClinicals
seamlessly integrates with athenaCollector, maximizing the benefits of both.
Better Workflow and Stronger Profits
While there are always costs associated with implementing an EHR, Lenell pointed out that athenaClinicals' unique approach has made it financially beneficial to the
For example, by using best EHR practices embedded in athenaClinicals' workflow, the
practice has streamlined its operations. "No one has to get up
from their desk
anymore to send a fax or find a chart," Buries said. "All the information we needis right on the desktop, which saves us lots of time during the day." They have
been able to reduce staff by 1.5 FTE. They also no longer have to order supplies—including paper—associated with keeping paper charts.
Just like athenaCollector, athenaClinicals provides EHR experts who serve as a practice's
back office. Once a practice completes implementation, all of the clinically-related
paperwork, including prescriptions and lab reports—paperwork that traditionally
inundates physicians' offices—goes directly to athenahealth, which assumes
responsibility for inserting this information into the practice workflow and patients'
Another benefit (and cost savings) is how athenaClinicals has streamlined the
prescription process, a process that used to consume a great deal of time and
energy. Once the information is entered into the patient's EHR
by the clinician, athenaClinicals handles all of the back office processing and
electronic prescribing. This allows the practice staff to focus on other patient carerelated
"We are confident that our practice management system and our EHR are working
together to allow us to operate at peak efficiency—and we expect our performance
to continue to improve," Lanell said.
The Bottom Line is Better Patient Care
Besides the increased efficiency and savings, Lanell thinks that biggest plus is the
impact athenahealth has had on patient care. "We are definitely delivering better
patient care," she said.
Buries agreed. "Now we have all the information we need right away. Patients don't
have to wait for us to search for test results or prescription information. And doctors
can write notes to the administrative staff right on the EHR.
Nothing gets lost. Our patients are happier."