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Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology

Independent OB/GYN Drives Deeper Patient Loyalty and Clinical Integration

 

Find out how athenahealth’s suite of cloud-based services enabled Dr. Tidwell and Associates in Obstetrics and Gynecology to decrease the practice’s DAR by 10.97% and no-show rate by 16.22% with cleaner claims and a 24/7 patient portal, all while maintaining the highest quality of care.

 



Organization

  • Located in Dalton, GA
  • 6 physicians
  • 6 midwives
  • 150 office visits per day

Issues

  • Financial stability needed in order to remain an independent provider
  • Strong clinical integration and care coordination necessary with other Independent Physician Association membership providers
  • Patient population expects creative ways to manage and extend communications with practice providers

Solutions

Results

  • Vastly improved claims enables leaner staff and more patients—without quality loss.
  • Integrated care capabilities enable independence within a successful IPA.
  • Patient portal gives patients 24/7 access and providers more control over communications.
  • Days in Accounts Receivable decreased 10.97%*
  • Patient visits increased 2.93%
  • No show rate decreased 16.22%**
Independent OB/GYN Drives Deeper Patient Loyalty and Clinical Integration

In an environment in which it is increasingly difficult for small practices to survive, Dr. Craig Tidwell was determined to keep his practice, Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology (AOG) in Dalton, Georgia, independent. But in order to do that, he needed to get his financial house in order. He had taken on an electronic practice management system, but it was not working out.

“Our billing department was a mess,” Dr. Tidwell says. “Our days in accounts receivable was so far out that it was hard to imagine. There were claims out there we’d lost track of, including lots of Medicaid claims. We lost money because of untimely filing, and that means revenue loss. Approximately 5-10% of the claims we were sending were not being paid.”

Enter athenahealth’s cloud-based services. With athenaCollector handling revenue cycle management and athenaClinicals as its EHR—as well as support services from athenahealth staff—the practice turned its operations around. “Our billing staff went from four people to two,” says Paige Rann, AOG’s office manager. “And the billing staff comes to me now looking for things to do. They work every day, but they also have time to devote to other areas of the practice. In half a day they can accomplish what used to take a day or more.”

Because AOG’s claims are cleaner when they leave the office, the staff is able to pay more attention to common problems that many practices don’t have time to think about, such as demographic errors. “We have changed the way we do things,” says Rann. “We’ve changed how information is entered, and athena helps us with corrections on the front end and the back end.” Doing things differently, with the help of athenahealth, has not only put AOG on a sound financial footing, but has made it possible for the practice to grow.

Clinical Efficiency Affects Quality of Care and The Bottom Line

athenaClinicals, the EHR portion of athenahealth’s offering, also made life easier for AOB.

The simplicity of athenaClinicals was a big plus. The physicians were afraid the EHR would slow them down, but it did the opposite.

“We had been exposed to some [EHR] systems in hospitals and gotten printouts that were so complex you couldn’t find the information you needed,” says Dr. Tidwell. “There was a transition phase to educate and train ourselves, but now the time from when the patient enters the room to documentation is so much faster. I have more time to spend with the patient because I’m saving time with the patient record part of it. I’m averaging 2.2 minutes per patient to enter my encounter data.”

The simplicity and logical flow of athenaClinicals enables AOG physicians to document encounters more efficiently. This allows them to see more patients per day or spend more time with patients requiring complex diagnoses without sacrificing the quality of their encounter. And, having access to specific data, such as average patient encounter entry times, allows clinicians to hone and refine their workflow efficiency.

- See more at: https://www.athenahealth.com/case-studies/OBGYN-patient-communication.php#sthash.IX6RdMoM.dpuf
Clinical Efficiency Affects Quality of Care and The Bottom Line

athenaClinicals, the EHR portion of athenahealth’s offering, also made life easier for AOG.

The simplicity of athenaClinicals was a big plus. The physicians were afraid the EHR would slow them down, but it did the opposite.

“We had been exposed to some [EHR] systems in hospitals and gotten printouts that were so complex you couldn’t find the information you needed,” says Dr. Tidwell. “There was a transition phase to educate and train ourselves, but now the time from when the patient enters the room to documentation is so much faster. I have more time to spend with the patient because I’m saving time with the patient record part of it. I’m averaging 2.2 minutes per patient to enter my encounter data.”

The simplicity and logical flow of athenaClinicals enables AOG physicians to document encounters more efficiently. This allows them to see more patients per day or spend more time with patients requiring complex diagnoses without sacrificing the quality of their encounter. And, having access to specific data, such as average patient encounter entry times, allows clinicians to hone and refine their workflow efficiency.
The Advantages of Clinical Integration in an IPA

Another strategy that helps AOG remain independent is being part of an independent practice association (IPA) called Physician’s Health Services, which has 180 physicians across 100 practices in Dalton, Georgia. IPAs give physicians more negotiating power with payers, but membership also presents unique challenges for practices.

“Our IPA has to earn the right to negotiate with payers,” says Dr. Tidwell, “and that means being clinically integrated; it means improving the health of patients served by the IPA. Practices have to report data about patients back to the IPA, have to show how healthy their patients are according to quality measures determined by the IPA. For example, the number of women over 40 getting mammograms.”

Dr. Tidwell quickly understood that athenahealth could help his IPA with this reporting, so he introduced athenahealth to Physician’s Health Services. athenahealth automates quality data gathering—including data on patient populations—and makes that quality data easily accessible and easy to report on.

“If all the physicians in the IPA were using athena, it would be easier to achieve clinical integration and prove it to payers,” says Dr. Tidwell. “If there are two physicians, all things being identical, it’s easier to refer my patients to the one using athena. Knowing referrals will receive the patient information with the push of a button instead of sending a fax or a piece of paper is very helpful.”

As an OB/GYN practitioner, taking advantage of athenahealth’s world-class interoperability has set Dr. Tidwell up for success in coordinating his patients care as they move from his practice to the other IPA specialists and even as they move into a hospital setting.
Better Patient Communication Benefits All

Another area AOG takes pride in is its excellent patient communication. “In women’s health care, the athenaCommunicator patient portal, to me, is more important than the billing. It’s crucial to patient satisfaction. Nobody else in our area has a system that communicates with patients as well as ours does. It’s the number one differentiator for us,” says Dr. Tidwell.

Dr. Tidwell notes one concrete example of the athenaCommunicator difference: the process to treat a bladder infection. This previously involved his patient calling the office, a paper chart being pulled, calling the patient back to confirm, then dealing with a busy pharmacy to order the prescription, and a final patient call to close the loop. It was a 20-minute process under ideal circumstances, adds Dr. Tidwell.

“Now it takes 20 seconds,” he says. “The patient emails me and I email her back. Then I send out her prescription to the pharmacy. The time saving is invaluable. And it increases patient satisfaction because they are communicating directly with their provider—securely too.”

And because athenaCommunicator is a cloud-based service, it gives OB/GYN physicians a lot of flexibility in terms of patient access and communication, whether it’s secure text messages or emails, automated reminder calls, or athenahealth playing the role of after-hours operator—athenahealth even verifies insurance information pre-appointment.

That adds up to seeing more patients, driving more revenue, and ultimately giving Dr. Tidwell and his staff better work-life balance. “That’s the beauty of athena. It gives us options and helps me spend more time with my family,” says Dr. Tidwell.

© July 2014
* Our clients see an average 6% increase in collections and 32% decrease in days in accounts receivable. This average is based on a weighted average for athenahealth clients with valid pre-athenahealth benchmark data that had their 15-month anniversary with athenahealth between January 1, 2010, and October 31, 2013.
** Our ReminderCallSM clients see, on average, an 8% lower no-show rate. This average on the change in average no-show rate among clients with ReminderCall that had been with athenahealth for at least 21 months and had their one-year anniversary on that service between April 1, 2010, and September 30, 2013.
† Doctors on athenaClinicals®, our cloud-based EHR service, are not slowed down, seeing no decrease in patient visits. This average is based on a comparison of the average change in patient visits for clients without athenaClinicals with that for clients with that service that had been with athenahealth for at least 21 months and had their one-year anniversary on that service between January 1, 2010, and September 30, 2013.
Dr. Craig Tidwell participates in athenahealth’s Physician Maven Program. For more information on this program, please visit www.athenahealth.com/maven.

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