‘Excellent,’ efficient care

Case Study | Spine Colorado PC
  • ILLO_xray_DGT_0

    Regional orthopedic spine center

  • Glob and purple location pin

    4 locations in Colorado and New Mexico

  • PatientChart

    900 clinical encounters a month

  • Female Dr and male nurse

    8 clinicians


  • Difficult to access patient records outside of brick-and-mortar locations
  • Cumbersome documentation process
  • Too much staff time spent on authorization process
  • Lack of insight into progress of authorizations


  • athenaOne® 
  • athenaOne® Authorization Management


  • Integrated mobile-ready solution for better collaboration, productivity
  • Seamless clinical documentation
  • Improved physician work RVUs
  • Repurposed equivalent of one full-time professional to higher-value work
  • 99.5% authorization success rate
  • 100% visibility into authorization process

Before switching to athenahealth, Spine Colorado’s practice management and electronic medical record technology couldn’t keep up with clinicians who serve a regional population at four locations. “Our old software made mobile patient care very challenging,” said Christopher R. Scott, MS, CMPE, CEO of Spine Colorado. “With athenahealth, I can hand someone a laptop or an iPad, and they’re a fully functional clinician wherever they happen to be.”

Since implementing athenaOne, athenahealth’s cloud-based suite of electronic clinical record, revenue cycle management, and patient engagement services, the practice has significantly improved efficiency. Clinicians can easily check one another’s notes no matter who is treating a patient. Since the EHR is integrated with prescription drug monitoring programs, medication management is much simpler. Scott says that user-friendly features like these have raised work RVUs to the upper quartile of MGMA averages.

Recently, Spine Colorado began using athenaOne® Authorization Management to streamline their authorization process. Now, instead of relying on staff to spend time manually tracking down payer information, the service automatically begins processing pre-certifications as soon as a clinician enters a procedure, surgery or imaging order into athenaClinicals. A rules engine automatically checks the order against payer requirements to determine if an authorization is required. If it is, athenahealth’s authorization team communicates directly with payers to submit documentation, follow up on status and manage the authorization to completion. The service continually adjusts to changing payer regulations.

The practice is confident knowing that athenahealth’s team is taking care of authorizations efficiently and accurately. What’s more, the service has saved the practice the equivalent of one full-time employee. “We’ve gotten 40 hours a week back,” said Scott. “We repurposed those hours to higher-value issues, like improving the patient experience.” He adds that the Authorization Tracker tool provides complete visibility into the authorization process, which aligns with the practice’s commitment to transparency.

Successfully adapting to changes with athenahealth’s always-current platform

athenahealth’s network continually updates to reflect changing payer rules including new physician fee schedules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Evolving CMS rules have a particular impact on Spine Colorado since about half of their patients are Medicare beneficiaries. The practice appreciates how athenahealth’s platform automatically incorporates changes to reimbursement guidelines and quality reporting without extra effort required of his staff.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the practice relied on athenaCommunicator for rapid outreach to segments of its patient panel. Combined with athenaTelehealth, which is integrated with athenaOne, they were able to promptly transition many appointments into virtual care. “athenahealth’s cohesive solutions keep staff and clinicians’ workflow efficient, even during major events,” said Scott. “athenahealth’s tools are easy for patients to use, too. They help us remove technological barriers, stay current with changes and focus on providing excellent care.”

Christopher R. Scott, MS, CMPE, CEO of Spine Colorado, PC

These results reflect the experience of one particular organization and are not necessarily what every athenahealth client should expect. Spine Colorado PC participates in athenahealth’s Client Advocacy Program. To learn more about the program, please visit athenahealth.com/client-advocate-hub. Spine Colorado PC was not compensated for participating in this content.