Augusta Medical Group (AMG), the ambulatory department of Augusta Health community hospital in rural Virginia, will log upwards of 400,000 outpatient visits this year.1 AMG is committed to ensuring that patients have a seamless experience as they move among specialties, between the hospital and outpatient care, through imaging and diagnostic services, and to and from other specialists in the community.
Their previous ambulatory EHR didn’t live up to AMG’s expectations for straightforward access to medical and billing information across the health system. “Our incumbent system was a problem culturally and operationally,” said Mike Canfield, CIO. “It became a recruiting hindrance to the physician group.”
In 2017, AMG turned to athenahealth for help connecting to the inpatient EHR as well as improving the care experience for patients and providers. “athenahealth offered us an easy-to-use EHR along with comprehensive back-office support,” said Canfield.
After implementing athenaOne, a cloud-based suite of EHR, revenue cycle management, and patient engagement services, patient records are now automatically created in both systems when a patient makes a visit. For example, when patients see an AMG provider, their care is documented, billed, and managed within athenaOne, but their demographics get automatically synched with MEDITECH, the hospital’s EHR software. And any lab, radiology or other diagnostic that occurs in the hospital is published on the MEDITECH portal as well as athenaOne.
Less “pajama time” gives providers their personal time back
Beyond establishing a cohesive infrastructure for the health system, the athenaClinicals EHR is designed to provide a streamlined workflow that optimizes revenue opportunities while being intuitive and simple to use. From the outset, providers have access to individual care checks to help them track their use of athenaClinicals and request additional education to improve their efficiency. “Having visibility into documentation time and throughput, as well as one-on-one education for providers, was really helpful through the early stages of adoption,” said Canfield.
Providers are more efficient due to athenaOne’s intuitive documentation layout and accelerators. “Our physicians say, ‘I don’t have to hang around the office or go home and spend two or three hours finishing my documentation. I am putting in a garden this summer, and I’m really excited to do that with my family,’” said Canfield. “We get that feedback from almost every provider. Pajama time — that’s what we call after-hours documentation — went down dramatically when we moved to athenaOne.”
Performance data drives decisions to improve operations
AMG uses athenaOne to track performance data as well as benchmark against peers on athenahealth’s network. “We have data to drive business decisions at a level of granularity that we’ve never had before,” said Canfield. His team uses athenahealth’s real-time dashboards to look at opportunities to improve efficiency, revenue, and the patient experience — such as how long providers are spending on documenting and how often they close encounters within 24 hours.
AMG is leveraging these kind of insights, and athenahealth’s adaptable technology, to expand capabilities in several areas. One project is further automating information sharing in the radiology department, so that radiology orders require less manual intervention as they move between athenaOne and MEDITECH. AMG is also enhancing billing capabilities for imaging services, and expanding imaging access for patients, to stay compliant with regulations that require imaging to be billed as an office rather than hospital service. And they are onboarding anesthesiologists into the group, which entails creating new workflows to appropriately document and bill for this complex level of service.
athenahealth is a trusted partner for the long term
AMG considers athenahealth to be a proactive partner in implementing their strategic plans. Together with athenahealth, AMG is tracking eight organizational goals that focus efforts on improved patient experiences. “We always ask ourselves how we can better serve our patients,” said Canfield. “How do we make care frictionless? How do we get information in the hands of our patients, so that they can manage their own healthcare? We get meaningful support from our athenahealth customer success manager for improving operations and making our services even more accessible.”
Canfield and his team are especially pleased that athenahealth has published a roadmap. “I know what athenahealth is thinking and where they are heading,” said Canfield. “That’s very helpful for my long-range planning. It goes a step beyond what I expect from a vendor in this industry.” AMG also enjoys being invited to test new functionality as athenahealth develops its services. They are currently piloting a new service that will automatically publish diagnostic results — within predetermined parameters — to the patient portal without waiting for physician review. “We’re excited about this new athenaCommunicator functionality,” said Canfield. “Our patients will get results more quickly and we can relieve even more time pressure for providers.”
The exceptional level of transparency as well as ongoing investment in the platform demonstrate to Canfield how genuinely committed athenahealth is to customer success. “athenahealth is the best option for supporting a large, complex health system’s ambulatory needs,” said Canfield. “They pay attention to the efficiency of their entire platform, including how physicians can continue to optimize care and how to best support patients’ experiences. I’m very excited about our future together.”
athenahealth brings it all together for our health system: a solid EHR, great analytics on the backend, and an account team that’s helping us drive success.
— Mike Canfield, CIO, Augusta Health