athenahealth helps urgent care center grow
Located in Utah, STAT-MD Urgent Care and Family Medicine Practice is one of the few independent medical practices in an area dominated by Intermountain Healthcare, a 22-hospital, 185-clinic, and 1,400-physician health system. Intermountain Healthcare has a significant market share and continues to expand through the acquisition of small, existing practices in the state.
This consolidation has reduced the number of accepted insurance plans for patients and “has created an environment where there’s not much independent competition,” says Bryan Knepper, CEO of STAT-MD. Before STAT-MD opened in Utah, Mr. Knepper was advised by colleagues who said, “Don’t do it; Intermountain has so much market share and power that you won’t be able to succeed.” Instead, he says, “We have found that it’s sort of the opposite, people like to have a choice.” In fact, STAT-MD recently expanded to a second location.
Keeping up with changing patient preferences
In a region with limited brands of healthcare, patients in Utah were seeking alternative solutions. STAT-MD offered an option independent of the health system that accepted more insurance plans. As such, STAT-MD saw a significant increase in patient volume, as many Utah residents chose the Park City center. However, with their prior urgent care-specific EHR, STAT-MD wasn’t able to adequately support all these new patients, specifically those seeking treatment beyond the traditional scope of urgent care services, including wellness visits, and annual screenings. Mr. Knepper says, “Urgent care is not just urgent care. Patients utilize urgent care as primary care, and having a narrow urgent careonly platform was prohibitive to our practice.”
In need of a more comprehensive solution to best serve these patients, STAT-MD partnered with athenahealth, leveraging the athenaOne suite of services, including electronic health record, patient engagement, and revenue cycle management services. Says Mr. Knepper, “We’re finding that patients really enjoy coming to us because our providers take the time to make them a part of the process and get them in and out in under an hour. In part, this is achieved due to the ease of use and fluidity of athenahealth.”
As part of athenahealth’s network, Mr. Knepper’s team can successfully and confidently take on patient concerns with the support of expert specialty knowledge. Via athenaNet, STAT-MD has access to specialty-specific workflows, content and best practices from providers nationwide. For example, “If you’re seeing UTIs and you have urologists that are on the platform,” Mr. Knepper says, “you have access to their templates and suggested tests.” The same is true for conditions that urgent care providers might not typically see, like heart disease, or diabetes.
As STAT-MD has evolved to respond to patients’ demand for primary care services, they identified a new need for an after-hours answering service. They were able to customize their solution with an athenahealth partner who provides after-hours phone call services. Patients can now contact the practice after business hours, and providers are able to use their smartphone to record information directly into the patient chart. “Before they see the patient, [providers] get a tremendous amount of information about the patient call… at their fingertips.”
Coordinating care across communities
With athenahealth’s pre-built interface, STAT-MD can automatically integrate with Intermountain Healthcare and other care centers, allowing them to easily coordinate care for their patients “We run our labs and other tests through Intermountain Healthcare because they are such a large healthcare system and trusted partner, and athenahealth has a pre-built interface for us to work with them, which allows continuity of care,” Mr. Knepper says. Access to this integration has “really impacted the care that patients get,” according to Mr. Knepper.
STAT-MD is able to connect across their community and the network, but perhaps most importantly, they are able to stay connected with each other to provide continuity of care with athenahealth’s clear documentation tools, regardless of which provider sees which patient. “Having really clear documentation is critical because patients may not see the same provider, and we’re able to work really well as a team,” Mr. Knepper says.
And, if providers run into any issues while documenting an encounter, they can immediately contact athenahealth’s client support center, open after business hours, every day, just like the urgent care center. Before switching to athenahealth, it often took half an hour for providers to reach support, and sometimes at an additional cost. Now, providers “can get through pretty quickly, and close out their chart, finish their visit, and not be stuck wasting time waiting for tech support,” Mr. Knepper says, which allows providers to be more efficient and get back to caring for patients faster. “It’s brilliant in that it gets you right to the person who can help you with your issue.”
Improving collections with greater visibility
In addition to on-call support, athenahealth has a team that supports collections at each stage of the billing cycle. Before they switched to athenaOne, STAT-MD did not have visibility into their claims, and struggled to collect full reimbursements. Mr. Knepper and his practice manager spent hours trying to determine what they were billing versus what they were getting paid, which ultimately limited STAT-MD’s potential for growth. “One of the biggest challenges is net working capital, and how much money is tied up in accounts receivable and how we’re going to fund payroll or expansion or equipment.”
With athenahealth’s revenue cycle management services, which include real-time visibility into new billing rules, claims matching, proactive eligibility checking, and denial management, STAT-MD has been able to reduce denials, collect more, and can track their collections at each stage of billing. “Our collections have significantly gone up, our days in accounts receivable have gone down,” says Mr. Knepper. “athenahealth provides a clear and reliable forecast of our collections, so I’m confident that our cash flows will be what I project them to be.”
Growing with confidence
With a more accurate understanding of their finances, STAT-MD was able to open a second location in West Jordan, Utah. Mr. Knepper says, “The fact that athenahealth made the billing and claims matching processes so much faster allowed us to expand to the second location more quickly than we had anticipated. Our prior solution was limiting our potential, whereas athenahealth truly supports our growth.”
Transitioning the West Jordan location onto athenahealth was just as straightforward as the initial athenahealth implementation. “It was so easy to just add a second location. All the users transported over, all the templates transported over, all the schedules…It was seamless,” Mr. Knepper says. “My providers jumped right in down there the day we opened. Not a single person called and said they had any questions or concerns.”
Financially, Mr. Knepper can manage the two locations separately and track which center has which patients, billing, and reimbursements. Support from athenahealth’s expert staff reduces the time and work involved with billing, and customized reporting provides visibility into reimbursements.
Scalable support for today’s needs and tomorrow’s goals
Partnering with athenahealth helps STAT-MD achieve both their short- and long-term goals, including adapting to evolving patient needs and growing their business, at scale, with new locations and service offerings.
“athenahealth’s advanced technology allows for easy interfaces with partners, allowing us confidence that the care we’re providing is excellent because we can easily set up a clear picture of our patients’ overall health and therefore provide exactly what they need.”