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CaroMont Family Medicine, a large, multispecialty, hospital-owned physician group located outside Charlotte, N.C., has adopted athenahealth's full suite of services to improve operations and enable its providers to meet Meaningful Use.


[MUSIC PLAYING] CaroMont Medical Group is a multi-specialty, hospital-owned group of physicians outside of Charlotte. Through strong leadership that came in a couple years ago, we've changed our course entirely in medicine. We've become more patient-centered, more accountable for our care.

Hello. I'm a family physician. So I do just about everything here that family physicians would do. There's a wide variety of patients that we see here, everything from the bank executives to the hourly laborer who can't read.

I'm co-chair of our physician governance committee. Good morning, John.

Good morning. How are you?

Which basically is overall administrative control for the providers we had in CaroMont Medical Group. I'm our EMR champion. The first EMR that we got was a traditional software-based model that would change and upgrade every year or two. And those changes would be very painful. I'd been on it about a year when a new idea came to us.

We had a new CEO. She said there's a better way, which happens to be your motto. And she asked us to go to Boston and take a look at athena. We started out from the beginning with the full product, which, for me, is the only way to do an EMR, which means the billing side, the electronic medical record side, and the patient portal interface side.

athena's revenue cycle management is awesome. We experienced essentially no setbacks with implementation. Everything has improved across the board. I've watched our financials as a group through three practice management systems. And you know I'm very intimate with our days in AR and other measures of financial performance. The other EMR was doing a decent job, but athena is doing an even better job of revenue cycle management.

I can look and see exactly where every patient that I have is in the system. I can see that I have a patient now with my MA, getting ready for a procedure. I can see the next patient is checked in and about ready for staff. Each staff member can, at a quick look at their computer screen, know where the patients are in the continuum. And I'm actually having to push my staff to book me to my capacity because I'm bored now.

My same day encounter close rate's 100%. There's never an encounter that's not closed. And mostly, it's done before they walk out of the room.

In this area, there is a high density of specialists. But as a patient-centered medical home, we try to encourage patients to come to us first. Because we can handle probably about 80% of all issues.

One of the big advantages of using athena through a multi-specialty group is when I refer a patient to a specialist, he's pulling up the same exact record that I have. He sees all the labs I've already done. He can even read my notes to see what the symptoms are.

I'll often type in the comments, this is what I'm concerned about, X, Y, Z. And that'll pop up right there in that provider's face so they know what I'm thinking.

All those results and the messages would have gone to an inbox, would have involved four staff members before I could even get to it. Now all that work is done with a couple clicks of a button.

Our patients think it's a good thing. We have portal access so they can access lab results if they're normal. And they really like that.

Our staff loves it when the patients use the portal. When a patient uses the portal to make an appointment, they can select the provider. They select the time. They can even put the reason for the visit. Our staff would love it if everyone made appointments like that.

Achieving meaningful use over the last year was kind of a no-brainer using this program. As long as we clicked the boxes that we pre-programmed into it, as long as we're keeping our quality indicators and ordering the right studies for the right patients, and writing the prescriptions in the right way, the computer system documented it all for us. It tabulated it all for us. It reminded us to do it.

Anything make it better?

All of our primary care practices met meaningful use last year.

The administrators are starting to appreciate quality care. When you give it to the patient, it's rewarding. It's a good time to be in health care for a lot of us.

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