As a rapidly growing health system in Central New Jersey, Capital Health serves a diverse patient population. The health system’s regional hospital is in the state capital; another hospital is outside the city; and an outpatient facility and 20 primary care and specialty practices span Mercer County, with additional locations planned. Their Level II Trauma Center is one of only ten in New Jersey, and they host the region’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
To support their continued growth as an organization and provide the level of care that has earned the trust of patients throughout the region, Capital Health needed more than the right technology solution – they needed the right strategic partner. As they began looking for a new revenue cycle management solution, they decided they needed a more comprehensive approach that would scale with their organizational growth, provide a tangible return on investment, and increase provider satisfaction. They began to realize the results they sought within their very first year on athenaOne, an integrated revenue cycle management, electronic health record, patient engagement, and care coordination service.
Easy onboarding for a growing operation
Capital Health went live within a year of choosing to partner with athenahealth, and since their implementation, they’ve continued to grow. When the health system added two new departments after their athenaOne go-live date, they were able to start the process of enrolling new providers in those departments within a week. Because all athenaOne users are part of a single, cloud-based network, there are no licenses to purchase or software to install as new users come on board.
“With athena, we’re able to expand our group efficiently and quickly. As we hire a new provider and as we open a new office, the EHR isn’t the big hurdle that we worry about,” says Dr. Michael Arcaro, Capital Health’s Medical Director of Clinical Informatics. To smooth the transition, athenahealth provided a range of training opportunities, from virtual and on-site training sessions to individual Care Checks, one-on-one phone calls to coach each provider at Capital Health on how to get the most out of athenaNet. “The learning curve is so fast that within a week or two, they’re up and running full speed, seeing patients and documenting efficiently. It’s something that we haven’t seen before with our old EHR, and even on paper we struggled with it.”
As Capital Health adds new locations, it’s seamless for providers to move between different offices. “The beauty of athena is that because it’s cloud-based, providers can just jump on. Their profile is already there, and they can quickly pull in everything they need automatically by just logging in,” says Dr. Arcaro. Providers appreciate the ease of using a cloud-based system wherever they’re practicing—including the ability to log in from a mobile device or at home, without the need for a VPN. As the organization grows, high levels of satisfaction with athenaClinicals, the electronic health record component of athenaOne, help Capital Health recruit new providers.
Measurable ROI within months
Before partnering with athenahealth, Capital Health lacked real-time access to their financial performance data, which hindered them from collecting potential revenue. Following implementation, providers had immediate visibility and saw nearly immediate results. Within 13 months of their go-live, Capital Health was collecting 18.9 percent more per month than they had prior to partnering with athenahealth.
One way they improved collections was by decreasing days in accounts receivable (DAR). Within seven months, they’d achieved a 30-percent decrease in DAR compared with their performance on their previous system. That decrease in DAR added up to an additional $1.63 million in collections within a year of joining athenahealth’s network.
With athenaOne, Capital Health can track changes in their financial and clinical performance from the organizational level down to the provider level. “There are easy reports to run,” says Dr. Arcaro. “The Sentinel Metrics Dashboard puts right at your fingertips the ability to chart individual providers’ performance and also individual offices’ performance if you’re in a big healthcare system like I’m in… We can pinpoint exactly what the different offices are doing and find problems as well as solutions by seeing those that are performing well and those that are not performing well.”
An EHR that puts providers in control
On their previous EHR, completing documentation in a timely fashion was a challenge for Capital Health providers. Since implementing athenaOne, providers close 88 percent of encounters on the same day that they see the patient—a rate that’s 10 percent higher than that of their peers on the athenahealth network.
“Our healthcare providers have improved their documentation times. They’re able to chart more efficiently, and they’re able to spend more quality time with the patient because of that,” says Dr. Arcaro.
Documentation accelerators built into the patient chart help providers work more quickly and easily. “athenaClinicals allows for the system to be customized such that different specialties have different templates available to them and even different charting options. This has been crucial to us,” says Dr. Arcaro. For example, when a specialist writes a note, athenaClinicals will automatically generate and fax a consult letter back to the patient’s primary care provider. “We didn’t have these capabilities before athena, and it’s been a big help for us in terms of efficiency.”
With accelerators and other capabilities that minimize administrative work, Capital Health’s providers can focus on the work only they are qualified to do. As a result, provider satisfaction has increased since the health system went live on athenaOne.
“athena allows each person in the healthcare team to really work towards the top of their license,” says Dr. Arcaro. “Your medical assistants can do more; your healthcare providers are not doing menial tasks that take up their valuable time. Instead, they are focusing on treating the patient, concisely documenting the note, and getting through their day.”
With athena, we’re able to expand our group efficiently and quickly. As we hire a new provider and as we open a new office, the EHR isn’t the big hurdle that we worry about. The learning curve is so fast that within a week or two, they’re up and running full speed.
— Dr. Michael Arcaro, Medical Director of Clinical Informatics