A thriving orthopedic practice with 24 locations throughout the Atlanta area, Resurgens Orthopaedics implemented athenaOne to standardize and enhance performance. And by several measures, athenahealth’s suite of medical record, revenue cycle management, and patient engagement services did just that. The organization realized pre-sales IT system and staff cost savings targets and achieved a record level of annual revenue.
Still, Chief Financial Officer Chip Geitz knew there were pockets of the business that stood to be improved. Geitz hoped that Resurgens could achieve even greater aligment between staff, revenue cycle workflows, and athenahealth’s solutions. But recent turnover in its Business Office made it difficult to identify the right person to initiate that kind of effort. “It wasn’t a matter of not knowing what needed to be done,” says Geitz. “It was a matter of not having the time to manage the process, and also manage the resource-intensive projects that I needed to focus on with the executive team.”
Finding the right support positions the practice for transformative change
athenahealth’s newly-created Onsite Advisor Program was a match for the project. As experts in athenahealth’s services as well as healthcare operations, Onsite Advisors have rich experience optimizing athenahealth solutions across many different practice types. Working with an Onsite Advisor would help Resurgens analyze key revenue cycle processes and provide on-the-ground support to develop and implement necessary changes.
When Onsite Advisor Dan Flaherty arrived at Resurgens, he quickly noticed several issues. First, he observed patterns of claim errors that slowed down the adjudication process, causing delays in payments. He also noted low time of service (TOS) collections, and an absence of reporting tools to monitor such activity. Resurgens’ reconciliation practices were inadequate and needed to move to a process that used athenaOne to it’s fullest capabilities. Above all, Resurgens’ leadership did not have transparency into the work of revenue cycle staff, so were challenged to make informed management decisions.
A refreshing approach pinpoints key issues — and identifies suitable solutions
Resurgens’ Onsite Advisor quickly became a trusted guide. He became familiar with the revenue cycle processes in all 24 offices and provided key insights to Resurgens’ leadership. “Dan took time to understand each location, know the challenges, and run reports to figure out where the focus needed to be,” says Geitz. “And he did a good job of ensuring that the leadership team was on board with his findings so we could keep the project focused and moving forward.”
Unlike traditional consulting engagements, where a consultant departs after presenting recommended next steps, the Onsite Advisor Program helps clients design and implement solutions. To accomplish this, the Onsite Advisor works alongside management staff as an in-house expert, getting a hands-on understanding of key challenges as well as suitable solutions. At Resurgens, Flaherty spent three days on site two weeks per month working in Resurgens’ offices and additional time providing virtual support. Once he achieved in-depth knowledge of Resurgens’ workflows, he was able to draw upon his experience optimizing athenahealth in similar practices to pinpoint root causes of the issues and develop tailored solutions.
For example, on the claims resolution front, the Onsite Advisor highlighted the holds that posed the biggest drag on Resurgens’ revenue cycle operations. These included claims that were being held because of overpayments, the need for additional documentation, or coding errors. He led Resurgens’ accounts receivable managers through a project to understand the processes behind the holds and how to appropriately triage the backlog of claims. This initiative led to a reduction of 24% in client days in accounts receivable (cDAR) and a 1% improvement in first pass resolve rate.
In addition, Resurgens was not efficiently collecting TOS payments. To reverse that trend, Flaherty worked with Resurgens’ leadership to build a program of accountability. Resurgens’ offices didn’t have standard procedures for front office staff to collect on patient balances and there was a shortage of ancillary support such as financial counseling. Flaherty drew up a playbook for front office staff and ensured that management had real-time insight into TOS collections. This resulted in an over 4% increase in Resurgens’ patient pay yield, putting the practice above its orthopedic peer group in that category.
Flaherty also helped the finance team develop a reconciliation process to work with its new financial accounting software. Resurgens’ integration of the new accounting system as well as improved reconciliation processes ensures they have access to timely, accurate financial data throughout the organization.
Clearing the path towards transparency, accountability, and growth
Flaherty also renewed focus on staff productivity by enabling the use of athenahealth’s reporting tools. In-depth reporting available through athenaOne helped leaders track the progress of work being done by individuals, teams, or locations. This transparency now permits Resurgens’ leadership to better understand workflow breakdowns and where cross-leveling and additional capacity might be needed.
Throughout the engagement, Flaherty kept Resurgens’ leadership team regularly updated on progress towards agreed-upon quantifiable targets. What’s more, he worked closely with the athenahealth Customer Success Manager assigned to Resurgens, creating the conditions for sustained impact after the conclusion of the engagement. Thanks to athenahealth’s Onsite Advisor Program, Resurgens has turned around its performance to see structured, standardized workflows that will drive revenue enhancement through the years ahead.