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Frequently Asked Questions



Implementation

How do I get started using athenaNet®?

athenahealth Response: To access the athenaNet application, clients need to do the following:

  1. Login to an internet-accessible computer, and open a supported browser (see our technical requirements for details)
  2. Enter https://athenanet.athenahealth.com/login.esp in your browser
    1. If you are an admin for your computer, on your first visit to athenaNet, please click on the “Configure browser” link found under the “Password” field on the login page
    2. Download and Install “athenaNet Device Manager”; when prompted select “Setup with Browser Configuration”
    3. See our Configure your computer for athenaNet and athenaNet Device Manager documents and for further details
  3. After successful configuration, the browser will be ready for optimal, secure operation of the application. A second pop-up window will appear, “Clicking on the ‘Configure Browser’ button will configure your Internet Explorer settings for athenaNet.” The client should choose “Configure Browser” to proceed
  4. Choosing “Configure Browser” will configure the following for the client’s installation of Internet Explorer:
  • Underline anchors
  • Sets the cache frequency updated to ‘Every Visit to Page’
  • Disables auto-form completion
  • Disables caching of passwords
  • Disables the javascript debuggers
  • Disables auto-checking for a new version of Internet Explorer
  • Sets Print Background to Yes
  • Sets the print margins from 0.2 all the way around, and clears the header and footer.
  • Empties the Temporary Internet Files folder when the browser is closed.
  • Disables the reuse of windows for launching shortcuts
  • Sets the homepage to http://athenanet.athenahealth.com
  • Enables file download
  • Enables automatic prompting for file downloads. (This is a Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later setting).
  • Accepts the ActiveX application to install for athenanet.athenahealth.com

After successful configuration, the browser will be ready for optimal, SSL-encrypted operation of the application. In addition, the client should also be sure to manually add http://athenanet.athenahealth.com to the list of trusted sites for Internet Explorer. This is done by doing the following. Choose: Tools > Internet Options > Security > Sites. Add athenanet.athenahealth.com to the list. Be sure to check “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone” to ensure SSL is set up.

What data is migrated from our old system and what happens to our old A/R?

athenahealth Response: athenahealth imports patient schedules and patient demographic data where necessary. We do not import patient insurance information.
Benefit to You: Our goal is to give you clean information so that you have accurate information to generate clean claims. We do not import old accounts receivable records as this would impair the ability to produce clean, clear and meaningful reporting. You may temporarily maintain your old system to resolve unpaid claims.

Can there be separate fee schedules set up by physician/clinic?

athenahealth Response: Yes.
Benefit to You: Clinics may have different fee schedules. These schedules will be set up during the implementation process and are easily maintained.

Who would maintain/update the fee schedules?

athenahealth Response: athenahealth and each practice
Benefit to You: The practice, along with our implementation team, loads the initial fee schedules. The practice is then responsible for maintaining the fee schedule on an ongoing basis. This provides the practice with optimum control over their fees.

Insurance selection: How many insurances comprise the most commonly used list?

athenahealth Response: The number of insurance plans listed on this screen is at the discretion of the practice.
Benefit to You: For setup, typically a practice may enter 25 insurances and would then tailor the list at a later date.

Does my practice or medical group need special software to use athenahealth services?

athenahealth Response: In general, no. Most users simply need to have a supported internet browser and a high-speed Internet connection (see our technical requirements for details).
Some user’s may wish to take advantage of athenaNet’s device integration capabilities, as such we recommend that you download and install the athenaNet Device Manager

How will athenaNet interact with my existing antivirus or malware detection software?

athenahealth Response: There are no known interactions between athenaNet and antivirus, intrusion detection, malware eradication, and host based firewall software. Our process for identifying issues regarding use of antivirus, intrusion detection and malware eradication is to rely on client-submitted incident reports. Our clients are instructed to report any interactions they experience via the athenahealth Client Service Center (CSC). When incidents are reported, our protocol is to investigate the interaction between the third party product and athenaNet. athenaClinicals has been in use in a production environment since November 2005. To date, no interactions have been reported.

Can I buy athenahealth software?

 

athenahealth Response: We do not sell our software as a separate, stand-alone product.
Benefit to You: athenahealth provides continuous, real-time, workflow automation solutions. We use our state-of-the-art tools to deliver these services through an ASP (application service provider) model.

Utilization

Will the clinics be able to use the system for messaging?

athenahealth Response: Yes
Benefit to You: Through the news and messages screens, practices have the ability to send and receive messages internally within the athenahealth system.

Are superbills specific to a physician/clinic/specialty, etc.?

athenahealth Response: They can be customized as needed
Benefit to You: This provides great flexibility at the practice to customize billing slips by clinician or location. Updates are quick and easy.

Who maintains the managed care contracts?

athenahealth Response: Your medical group.
Benefit to You: Through the extensive reporting functions, practices have the information which is invaluable when negotiating managed care contracts.

What is the function of the expiration date field on the add insurance details page?

athenahealth Response: If you generate a claim with a date of service which is after the expiration date, the claim will go into HOLD. The user will get a message indicating that the patients insurance has expired.
Benefit to You: This feature provides the security needed to prevent users from submitting claims when the patient's insurance has expired.

Can athenaNet prevent you from duplicating a provider schedule that has already been created?

athenahealth Response: Yes, there is a process in place that lets clients prevent duplicate schedules from being created.
Benefit to You: Flexibility – clients can merge templates prior to applying them system wide.

What is the utility of primary dept vs. dept of registration why the distinction?

athenahealth Response: The primary department is typically where the medical record would be stored.
Benefit to You: It is also useful if you are trying to track patient transfers between offices; i.e., how many patients start out in one clinic and end up moving to another; athenaNet lets you know where the patient originated in the system.

How do you currently set up schedules for x-rays or ultrasounds?

athenahealth Response: You may create a provider named x-ray or ultrasound and then build out schedule templates for these purposes.
Benefit to You: This feature allows the practice to schedule procedures when the rendering provider is not known at the time the appointment is made.

How are new insurance packages entered?

athenahealth Response: The CBO at athenahealth maintains the master file for insurance companies.
Benefit to You: The turnaround time for insurances to be added to the system is typically 48 hours. Claims are automatically placed on hold until the package has been added and the account also displays a warning on the patient quick view screen that indicates the insurance is still pending. The system will not allow the claim to be billed out unless the insurance package is valid and confirmed by athenahealth's experts. This guarantees that insurance packages that are used by your staff are accurate.

How does the system use zip codes to populate city?

athenahealth Response: athenahealth uses the most recent zip code list. This list is updated periodically.
Benefit to You: The benefit of this feature is that is reduces the amount of data entry your staff must do to register a patient, therefore speeding up the registration process.

Can master files populate across all groups or do they have to be manually entered into each practice?

 

athenahealth Response: If a master file is built into one practice, athenahealth can duplicate that master file across other practices.
Benefit to You: The benefit is reduced set-up time.

Security

Within athenaNet, can different levels of access be granted?

athenahealth Response: athenaNet provides for role-based user access control which grants varying degrees of access to users with different levels of authority within a medical group or other organization.
Benefit to You: This provides the practice with the ability to control what level of information each user has the ability to access. Your practice can decide not to allow receptionists to have access to schedule creation or billing admin for example. The added benefit is that each transaction is tagged with the user's name for monitoring and training purposes.

How are athenahealth data and uptime protected?

athenahealth Response: All athenahealth systems are monitored for interruptions and security protocols 24 hours a day.
Benefit to You: athenahealth has planned for redundancy with multiple, geographically diverse hosting facilities to minimize the impact of system or network interruptions. In addition, there are mirrored copies of the data within each hosting facility, and the full system is backed up each night to multiple, offsite locations.

Does athenaNet allow users to only edit provider templates and schedules specific to their location?

athenahealth Response: Yes, this level of security is available.
Benefit to You: The benefit is that no other group can accidentally change or delete your templates. You are given the flexibility, however, to have one central group create all templates if you so desire.

How can we ensure that the void links throughout athenaNet will not be used incorrectly?

athenahealth Response: A void audit trail is currently in place.
Benefit to You: This provides the practice with the ability to view voided transactions and the user who completed the transaction for monitoring purposes.

How are passwords protected in athenaNet?

athenahealth Response: All passwords in athenaNet are carefully protected using generally accepted security protocols. Like all data in athenaNet, they are only transmitted over cryptographically secured channels via the HTTPS protocol. User passwords are never stored in clear text within our databases; instead a FIPS 140-2 compliant cryptographic hash function is used, which allows us to confirm a user’s password without persisting it in our system. Allowed passwords can be configured by practice security administrators, but we discourage changing parameters from the defaults. These parameters include the minimum password length, the minimum password complexity, the number of inactive minutes before session timeout, the number of failed login attempts before the account is blocked, and the number of unique passwords which must be used before a password can be reused.

How does athenahealth handle the patch process?

athenahealth Response: athenaNet is a web based application, updates and fixes to the application are administered centrally on athenahealth’s servers. athenaNet Device Manager is a thin windows application and service, whose modules default to auto-updating when prompted by athenaNet during a user’s online session. An MSI package for athenaNet Device Manager is available for download through athenaNet for clients who manage windows applications centrally. Customers are responsible for maintaining any technology infrastructure they use to connect to athenahealth using a browser. athenahealth can detect whether certain requirements are in place, such as browser version. The impact of athenaNet and athenaNet Device Manager patches are communicated with release notes.

 

For patches to the operating system, athenaNet has never either required or contraindicated the application of any Windows hotfixes or upgrades. However, if such a situation arose, it would be communicated in the same manner as patches to our supported browsers.

 

Regarding patches or updates to our servers, we install patches from a small number of software sources we trust (SuSe, IBM, and Oracle). We verify these patches using MD5 checksums. We then roll them out in several stages: first they are applied to a development server which is regression tested; then they are loaded onto a single, less used production server for a period; then to a small set of fully utilized production servers for a period; then into production generally. If problems appear in any of these stages, we pause the rollout and investigate/solve the problem before continuing.

 

For patches to the operating system, athenaClinicals has never either required or contraindicated the application of any Windows hotfixes or upgrades. However, if such a situation arose, it would be communicated in the same manner as patches to Internet Explorer. athenahealth doesn’t provide a software system which resides on the user’s computer or installation media; our product is delivered over the web. Regarding patches or updates to our servers, we install patches from a small number of software sources we trust (SuSe, IBM, and Oracle). We verify these patches using MD5 checksums. We then roll them out in several stages: first they are applied to a development server which is regression tested; then they are loaded onto a single, less used production server for a period; then to a small set of fully utilized production servers for a period; then into production generally. If problems appear in any of these stages, we pause the rollout and investigate/solve the problem before continuing.

 

What kind of application performance can I expect from athenaNet?

athenahealth Response: athenahealth tracks product performance by looking at Target Average Render Time (TART). A page-by-page target is maintained for how quickly the application returns a page, and performance is tracked against this. The TART for most pages is one second, but certain critical workflow pages have lower TARTs, and certain resource intensive pages (e.g., reports) have higher TARTs. In 2007, this metric was changed to track the 90th percentile time of pages, and the per page metrics were adjusted to 1.15s target. Using a system a Windows 8 system with a 2.60 GHz Intel Core, 4 GB RAM, and a 80Gb hard drive, and a network connection to athenaNet with less than a 100ms consistent average ping roundtrip time and less than 3% sustained packet loss, users can expect pages to render in 1.15 seconds with 10 concurrent users.

What malware applications are required for using athenaNet?

athenahealth Response: While athenaClinicals is centrally-hosted, athenahealth takes preventive measures against malware affecting our centrally-controlled code base. Our servers are patched and updated according to the following process: we install patches from a small number of software sources we trust (SuSe, IBM and Oracle). We verify these patches using MD5 checksums. We then roll them out in several stages: first they are applied to a development server which is regression tested; then they are loaded onto a single, less used production server for a period; then to a small set of fully utilized production servers for a period; then into production generally. If problems appear in any of these stages, we pause the rollout and investigate/solve the problem before continuing

How does athenahealth comply with NTP/SNTP time standards?

athenahealth Response: The athenaNet application uses NTP time synchronization. Time stamps are recorded for any user actions within the EHR, and are generated by our computer systems. The athenahealth database and web servers synchronize their clocks with a central server in athenahealth’s datacenter via NTP version 4.2.0. That server is an NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) stratum 2 server, which receives its time via NTP (same version) from three statum 1 servers:
time-a.nist.gov
time-a.timefreq.bldrdoc.gov
nist1-ny.WiTime.net
All timestamps in the application (including security timestamps) are generated in the database, which in turn receives its time from the operating system, which is kept synchronized via NTP as described above.

How is PHI communicated over open networks and how does athena validate the authenticity of users?

athenahealth Response: The athenaClinicals application always assumes that it is being run over an open network (even though some of our clients have private connections to the application). Therefore, all communication between users and the application takes place using HTTP over SSL (HTTPS), using AES-256 256 bit encryption. This communication protocol, coupled with the use of site certificates, provides a high level of protection of data (such as any PHI communicated) against confidentiality failure, integrity failure, and false remote nodes.