Orthopaedic group leads by example when it comes to innovation, insights

Case Study | Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee
  • Glob and purple location pin

    4 locations in Tennessee

  • Female Dr and male nurse

    16 physicians, 20 advanced practice providers, 19 physical therapists, and 3 occupational therapists

  • ILLO_Medical-bag-Purple_DGT_3

    Provides orthopaedic care, spinal, joint replacement, and arthroscopic surgery, and sports medicine care


  • Resource-heavy server-based system
  • Managing rapid growth
  • Onboarding new practices 


  • athenaOne®


  • Faster billing and higher reimbursements
  • Lower denial rates
  • Cloud-based model streamlined staffing and workflows
  • Seamless growth
  • American Association of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE) accolades including Practice of the Year and Practice Executive of the Year

Last year, Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee was named Practice of the Year by the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE) and CEO Darren Harris was named AAOE’s Practice Executive of the Year. But just a few short years ago, BJIT’s trajectory wasn’t as certain. The group was using another EHR vendor and a third-party business office. Harris and the Bone and Joint Institute team wanted to grow efficiently, enhance billing operations, and transition to less manual processes that allow them to focus on the best patient care. Since transitioning to athenaOne, athenahealth’s cloud-based suite of clinical record, revenue cycle management, and patient engagement solutions, BJIT has been able to do all of that — and more.

Simpler billing and smoother workflows yield impactful results

When BJIT formed in 2018, the organization relied on an inefficient third-party business office.  “It would take six months to a year to find out that we had been billing incorrectly,” CEO Darren Harris said. Since transitioning to athenaOne, BJIT has seen close to a 20 percent increase in collections per RVU — almost twice what Harris and his team had expected. The first-pass resolve rate has improved dramatically, and the average denial rate is just 6 percent compared to the average (mean) denial rate for orthopaedic practices of 9 percent across the athenahealth network.

Another added benefit to transitioning EHRs is athenahealth’s streamlined, single-piece invoicing, said Harris. Previously, the practice would receive as many as 70 invoices a month for each line item from the outsourced business office — which ultimately, yielded more work for in-office staff.

Using athenahealth has helped  BJIT make crucial financial decisions as it expands to serve growing needs in middle Tennessee — especially after-hours orthopaedic urgent care centers and physical therapy facilities. Financial sustainability ultimately benefits patients because the practice can reinvest in its geographic region and infrastructure.

“We feel like we have much more insight into what the financial health of our practice is, and are doing a much better job on this platform,” said Harris.

BJIT has an ambitious growth model and says athenahealth’s cloud-based platform is pivotal to their success. Because the athenahealth platform allows for adding an unlimited number of users without adding additional licenses, there’s no back-and-forth recontracting like there would be with other non-SaaS-based vendors. Eliminating on-premises hardware also tamps down the number of IT resources required to sustain the organization.

BJIT says its experience with athenahealth is also more of a “plug and play” variety, where prebuilt interfaces eliminate the need for a lot of manual work. Unlike the case with their previous vendor, the group can focus more on patient care because the burden of checking eligibility requirements for Medicare services, for instance, has been accommodated by athenahealth.

Their athenahealth partnership has yielded enhanced business results and professional accolades, but Harris doesn’t plan to stop there. BJIT is an active participant in athenahealth’s networking organization for orthopaedic groups to share best practices and workflows. They’ve also developed an on-premises Pursuing Excellence Program (PEP) to share insights about the roles of technology and organizational culture with others. “It makes us better by bringing other groups in, and showing them what we do well,” Harris said. “When you get a bunch of like-minded orthopaedic groups or practices together, all ships rise.”

Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee

*These results reflect the experience of one particular organization and are not necessarily what every athenahealth customer should expect.