CareTeam is a rapidly growing model that partners with employers to operate on-site, near-site, and shared-site primary care clinics. Their approach benefits both companies and their employees, as the former often saves on traditional insurance plan costs and the workforce can schedule longer, more convenient appointments. These sessions focus on enhanced personal care; besides sick visits and annual wellness exams, each on-site caregiver is also a certified health coach who focuses on personalized preventative care plans. CareTeam’s fast expansion and model that encourages patient engagement requires an EHR that is quick to install, easy to train on, and supports ongoing communication between caregivers and employees.
Fast implementation promotes growing to scale
Having worked in the healthcare private sector previously, President and Co-Founder Scott Parks said he used “just about every EHR system on the planet.” So when it came time to determine the best option for CareTeam, he opted for a cloud-based solution that he knew could be implemented and trained on quickly.
“We run clinics all over the nation, all standalone, all in different geographies. And when we launch them, having a web-based model for an electronic health records system is super important — the fact that we can basically go, take a laptop and a WiFi connection, and with a router, we’re practicing medicine,” Parks said. “It’s a huge benefit for a business like ours, which is scaling nationally, quickly.”
Matt Theodore, CareTeam Director of Operations, said athenahealth’s “very intuitive” system can be “up and running from day one,” thanks to a simple five-step installation process. “With almost minimal effort in training, not only are providers doing a good job in taking care of patients, but accurately and effectively documenting those visits as well,” he said. Incorporating new providers is fast and easy, too — they can be added via a new logon instead of purchasing an additional license like other traditional EHR vendors.
Unlike other EHRs, which can require on-site IT staff to help physically install frequent updates, athenahealth’s cloud-based service means employer clinics don’t need to have specialists service their systems — updates are made remotely in real-time, which saves on adding additional employees.
Easy reporting boosts profitability
A single, connected network is also imperative for CareTeam’s business model, say Parks and Theodore. The ease of accessing and parsing crucial data quickly and remotely across myriad locations and providers gives them instant visibility into both individual practice management and overall business performance.
“The analytics that we get out of the practice management reporting is critical,” said Parks of meeting key performance indicators. “Are we delivering on our value proposition? Are we collecting discrete data points that are actionable and reportable back to our employer clients? That’s where athena is super helpful and super important.”
This is crucial to CareTeam’s success because they are, for example, able to pinpoint which employer clinics are helping close more care gaps or are having successful patient outreach campaigns. Then they can share best practices across their organization.
CareTeam has also been able to easily use quality management reports for a proactive approach when it comes to COVID-19. Caretakers can address at-risk patients — like those who have diabetes or heart issues — by identifying then stratifying who needs outreach first. “That could be just making a phone call and checking on them,” said Theodore. “That isn’t really necessarily the intent of the quality management tool. It just easily helps us identify the patients that we really need to focus on, in a time crisis, and focus on those patients first.”
Proper tools to support patient engagement
In addition to phone calls, CareTeam employs multiple outreach options. It’s part of what Parks describes as a “technology-enabled primary care experience” that includes tools like text messaging with options to send appointment reminders, for instance. The user-friendly patient portal offers them chances to connect with caregivers and self-scheduling that directly populates athenahealth’s EHR. Supporting that communication complements CareTeam’s business model, which includes longer appointment times than traditional primary care facilities. In turn, on-site nurse practitioners (or in some cases, physicians) can address employees’ emotional and physical needs with more comprehensive exams and dialogue, and draft personalized care-gap plans. All CareTeam caretakers have health coaching training, too, supporting ongoing, relationship-driven engagement in addition to technological engagement.
“For example, it’s easy to diagnose and manage someone with diabetes. Medication management, A1C monitoring, and a variety of in-person exams are critical to manage a diabetic care plan,” said Parks. “But, if we don’t address fundamental lifestyle factors like exercise, nutrition, muscle and movement-based issues, or even underlying behavioral health challenges, it’s really hard to treat the actual physical disease.”
This ongoing dialogue and documentation to inspire and track progress between caregivers and patients are facilitated with access through the athenahealth portal. It’s used for everything as simple as annual physical reminders, to most recently communications on managing stress and anxiety during a pandemic.
The right care no matter the setting
CareTeam’s on-site model largely connects more rural communities that face barriers to quality healthcare with easily accessible resources. But recently, this “technology-enabled primary care experience” has expanded with greater adoption of telehealth services once COVID-19 started to spread.
Although telehealth options were available previously, interest and usage increased significantly during the onset of the pandemic. Virtual encounters accounted for just 1.2% of total visits in April 2019, but grew to 42.3% across CareTeam’s network in April 2020. Parks and Theodore said athenahealth’s diverse Marketplace offerings was just one of the reasons they selected athenahealth’s EHR, but they have been especially pleased with how valuable these resources are in a time of crisis. Pre-built connections with existing partners meant they already had easy solutions for advance check-ins, patient satisfaction surveys, and telehealth. CareTeam was easily able to transition operations to a combination of telehealth appointments and in-person appointments during the pandemic (as many clinics are for those deemed essential workers, CareTeam opted to keep those on-site clinics open “in solidarity”).
No matter the setting, having the right documentation in the right place at the most crucial times is critical to treating patients. CareTeam recently integrated another Marketplace partner, a population health management tool that’s been a “critical” connection with athenahealth, said Parks. What he calls a “one-stop shop” means registration information from athenaNet populates in the app, with no toggling – nor additional sign-on – required by the provider. By using a third-party claims group and internal clinical data, the population health app provides a “total picture of the patient’s health status and health risk profile,” said Parks. Care coordinators can then perform outreach or offer care measures during appointments that are beyond the limited symptom-specific scope of why many patients schedule time with providers. Data is surfaced to provide a better overall patient profile for improved care coordination.
Enabling future growth with the right technology partner
Having the right tools and technology enabled by athenahealth means that CareTeam is able to fulfill its value proposition of making quality healthcare accessible and affordable. Part of their incremental growth plan includes not only more employer-sponsored physical locations but also expanding services to include on-site nutrition counseling. Having access to other providers’ notes about exercise habits, medications and any ailments means these nutritionists are better prepared because they have a comprehensive view of their patients, says CareTeam.
It’s all part of a strategy that includes a more longitudinal view of healthcare. “The best way to prevent rising healthcare costs is to keep people healthy,” said Parks. “People who invest in our solution fundamentally believe that good health is good business.”