When Jonathan Rosaasen, MD, and his wife, Amanda Rosaasen, MD, decided to open
a new family medicine practice in Moorpark, California, Jonathan had a vision of "a
virtual team and a paperless office," because he believed that the more people who
touched a process the more mistakes were likely to be made. He also wanted an
integrated system, so he wouldn't have to move data between incompatible systems;
and one that helped ensure swift, accurate payment, because "you can be a great
doctor, but if you're not getting paid, you won't last long." Finally, he wanted a system that would help him develop and retain his patient base.
Making the Vision Real
Turning his vision into a reality, however, was another thing entirely. Dr. Rosaasen
looked at many systems, none of which met his needs and many of which required an
upfront investment of $50,000-$100,000. Then the business manager at a hospital,
who knew many physicians in private practice, recommended athenahealth. Dr.
Rosaasen was immediately impressed with several things about athenahealth's medical billing, EHR, and patient communication.
services. They were cloud-based, which he saw as innovative and forward-thinking.
They were integrated, which ensured that his EHR would play well with his business
solution. They were CCHIT-certified. They included full-scale document management
services—which, he calculated, would save him one full staff member.
Implementation went smoothly, not only because Dr. Rosaasen was willing to sit down
and experiment with the system, but also because the system was easy to navigate
and athenahealth offered the training and support they required. "Mandy and I did
the online training. And as we worked with the system, whenever we had a problem
we could get the answers quickly by contacting athenahealth's Client Service Center,
usually waiting less than five minutes for a solution."
Building a Strong Base
Starting out with athenaCollector and athenaClinicals, Moorpark Family Medicine
achieved low DAR and a high first-pass resolution rate, made timely collections,
offloaded paperwork, and enhanced its patient workflow to make its small staff
more efficient. Impressed with athenahealth, and eager to develop their patient
base, the Rosaasens were enthusiastic when they were approached to be a pilot
implementation for athenaCommunicator, athenahealth's on-demand, automated,
and live patient communication service. "What's nice about athenahealth is that every
time we figure out something that could improve the efficiency of what we do, they've
already thought of it or are in the process of implementing it."
Before the patient web portal elements of athenaCommunicator were available, the practice
started by using ReminderCallSM to let patients know about upcoming appointments.
"ReminderCall just took a load off of us having to call and remind people. Our noshow
rate** was 3.9% for December, 2.4% for January, and is always under 5%. The
best part is that patients can cancel or reschedule before the day of the appointment,
leaving spaces open in the schedule for walk-in/sick visits that are inevitable and
The practice also began using athenaCommunicator's self-pay reminder service to
remind patients about payments due, which gently nudged patients toward quicker
Product Grows With the Practice
As Moorpark Family Medicine developed, athenaCommunicator developed along
with it. athenahealth built a secure online patient web portal with the look and feel
of the practice's website, which enables patients to request appointments and
prescription refills, complete paperwork, communicate with the office, make
payments, and so on.
The practice is able to give patients secure access to test results via the patient web portal,
when the results are normal or don't require explanation. ResultsCallSM generates
an e-mail or automated phone call that lets patients know how to securely retrieve
the results. "This saves us the time it would take to make all those calls," says
Dr. Rosaasen. "I've always believed that patients should have full access to their
information, so it's good to have a system where the physician can choose whether
or not to use that feature."
Patient Involvement Brings Greater Efficiency
The patient web portal even enables the practice to get standard paperwork done before
an appointment. It allows patients to fill out and fax documents such as the
registration form, health questionnaire, treatment consent, medical information
release, and advance directive. "The web portal allows our patients to go online
and do our front-office tasks," says Dr. Rosaasen.
The practice also takes advantage of athenaCommunicator's live operator services.
"The last frontier of what holds us back in the office is answering the phone," says
Dr. Rosaasen. "We're working with athenahealth on developing our use of the
operator service. Right now, athenahealth's live operators are assisting us after
hours and responding to our patients who get reminder calls and ask to reschedule,
which frees us up for other tasks."
Finally, the practice has used GroupCallSM in conjunction with e-mail campaigns to
encourage patients to get flu shots and inform them about the advantages of using
the practice's patient web portal. This was far less expensive than sending mailers via
the postal service. "We saw a significant uptick in both flu shot requests and use of
the portal as a result of GroupCall and e-mails," says Dr. Rosaasen.
"The great thing about working with athenahealth," he says, "is that you're not just
buying some piece of software to run in your office. You're part of a team approach,
and you benefit from the experience of all the practices that use their solutions,
instead of having to learn everything the hard way. I recommend athenahealth to
*athenahealth average client Days in Accounts Receivable (DAR) in Q3 2009 was 39.3 days.
**athenaCommunicator data was gathered during our beta testing period, prior to full release to the