OurHealth partners with employers to offer on-site and near-site primary care clinics focused on delivering cost-effective, preventative care—an increasingly popular approach to driving down healthcare-associated costs for employers. To support this model, OurHealth needed the ability to seamlessly exchange data across different IT systems. athenahealth’s open platform, easy-to-use APIs, and Marketplace partners allowed OurHealth to create a solution perfectly suited for its unique needs.
Reducing inefficiencies by connecting disparate systems
The patient experience is at the center of OurHealth’s work. In addition to primary care services, OurHealth offers biometric screenings, risk assessments, health coaching, and incentive programs that reward patients for taking steps to improve their health. This membership-style model encourages ongoing engagement with patients outside of routine clinic visits. “Our goal is to hold our members’ hands throughout the entire experience and make sure they get their issues taken care of. We want to engage them more often, not less,” explains Sherry Slick, OurHealth’s Chief Information Officer.
To support this high engagement model, OurHealth staff relies on three IT solutions that together provide a complete view of their members’ health. Customer service staff use Salesforce to track member engagement; providers use an EHR to document clinic visits; and members use OurHealth’s proprietary portal to interact with the organization.
However, OurHealth’s previous EHR couldn’t easily exchange data with either Salesforce or OurHealth’s member portal. Information collected on one system was not automatically available elsewhere, which forced providers and staff to toggle back and forth between systems just to maintain accurate schedules and patient records. “We had little to no integration between our systems, which led to inefficiencies both clinically and operationally across our call center, our referral teams—pretty much everyone,” Slick says.
These inefficiencies were most apparent with OurHealth’s member portal. The organization created the portal when it became clear that other solutions in the market couldn’t offer the flexibility needed to serve up individualized features and content to OurHealth members. The custom-made portal delivered that flexibility, but it also made it harder to share data across systems. As a result, providers and staff took on the work of manually entering information gathered on the portal into OurHealth’s other systems.
OurHealth overcame these challenges with athenaOne, a comprehensive EHR, practice management, patient engagement, and care coordination solution. Specifically, the open platform that underpins all athenahealth solutions allowed OurHealth to integrate its disparate systems and as a result reduce inefficiencies, and simultaneously expand its capabilities through Marketplace partners.
From many data sources, one view
OurHealth still uses Salesforce and its proprietary member portal today. But athenahealth’s open platform and easy-to-use APIs made it possible to integrate all three systems. Providers and administrative staff use athenaOne, customer service teams use Salesforce, and members use OurHealth’s member portal—but all three systems share data.
Integrating these previously separate systems had a major impact across the organization, Slick explains. Provider documentation time decreased, and their satisfaction with their EHR and practice management tools increased. Thanks to an integration between athenahealth and the organization’s existing physician dispensing tool, OurHealth also significantly reduced the time its clinical staff spend on medication dispensing.
The ability to share data across systems has also revolutionized OurHealth’s scheduling workflows. To make sure that athenaOne always has the latest and most accurate information about member appointments, OurHealth needed to share scheduling data between its EHR, Salesforce, and its member portal. The organization also needed to automatically check members’ eligibility for services, since members are only eligible for certain services at certain clinics based on their employer’s contract with OurHealth.
OurHealth staff leveraged athenahealth’s APIs to develop their own innovative solution to meet these needs. They wrote custom code that processes appointment requests from Salesforce and the member portal, and automatically feeds that data into athenaOne. They also created custom fields within athenaOne that allowed staff to restrict scheduling options according to a member’s eligibility. “We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did in the time we did it without athena’s APIs. It just would not have been possible for us to do it,” Slick says.
The custom fields also make it possible for providers to see a member’s employer and eligibility information without leaving athenaOne, allowing them to schedule follow-up appointments without toggling between multiple systems. In the past, providers needed to open the member portal to see that information, and then switch back to the EHR to act on it.
Expanding functionality through partners
In addition to integrating multiple systems, athenahealth’s open platform makes it easy to add new functionality from third-party vendors. OurHealth can build its own connection between athenaNet and their third-party solution, knowing that athenahealth’s platform is designed with integration in mind. Or the organization can take advantage of pre-built connections with existing Marketplace partners, as OurHealth did when it expanded its check-in capabilities with a check-in app.
The app saves time and work during the check-in process by allowing OurHealth’s members to securely check-in for appointments through a mobile app and by automatically populating OurHealth’s intake forms with that member’s information. As a result, members spend less time filling out paperwork in the waiting room, while OurHealth staff receive the information they need before a member has even walked through the clinic’s doors—without having to manually enter data from a handwritten form.
Not having to create their own solution or worry about integration freed up OurHealth staff to take on higherpriority work, Slick explains. And because solutions from Marketplace partners can be implemented within five days or fewer, OurHealth was able to see results in a much shorter timeframe than expected. “Grabbing a partner off of the Marketplace that already had a plug-andplay integration with athenahealth—just having that option was a beautiful thing,” Slick says.
A foundation for future innovation
OurHealth has only begun to explore what it can accomplish with its integrated systems. Looking down the road, Slick sees opportunities to offer even more proactive care by applying her team’s own predictive analysis tools to the centralized warehouse of data that now includes data from athenaOne. OurHealth could then use insights gleaned from that data to serve up its own personalized content through the member portal, or guide the development of more effective incentive programs for members.
“That vision would not be possible if we hadn’t been able to integrate our data the way that we have with athena. We feel like we now have the tools to carry out our mission and impact our members’ lives in a positive way, while reducing some of the friction in healthcare,” Slick says.