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Eye Care and Laser Surgery of Newton-Wellesley, LLC

New Practice Thrives While Focusing on Patient Care

 

Ophthalmologist Marc Leibole, MD, wanted a practice management system that would allow him to concentrate on patient care without sacrificing financial control. When he discovered athenahealth’s practice management solution, athenaCollector®, he knew he had found a system that would allow him to achieve that goal.

 



Organization

  • Located in Newton-Wellesley, MA
  • Small ophthalmology practice
  • 1 full-time physician, 2 physicians with limited hours
  • 625 patient visits a month

Issues

  • New practice needed help getting started
  • Staff lacked medical office/billing expertise 
  • Insufficient time to learn complex billing system

Solution

Results

  • Staff trained and ready in just a few days
  • Benchmarking motivates staff and used as basis for bonuses
  • Days in accounts receivable at 24 days
  • More time for patient care
Support For A Start-Up

Ask Marc Leibole, MD, the key to a successful practice and he’ll likely say “customer service.”

When Dr. Leibole opened his practice in late 2007, he organized his office around the premise that customer service is king, hiring an office staff with customer service experience rather than a medical office background. “I looked for friendly and compassionate staff, not just for people who were accustomed to hustling patients through the office,” Dr. Leibole explained.

In keeping with his focus on creating a successful customer service environment, he wanted a practice management system that would allow him to concentrate on patient care, not billing, without sacrificing financial control.

When Dr. Leibole discovered athenahealth, he knew he had found a system that would allow him to achieve that goal. He was very impressed by how much athenahealth would save him by getting his claims out more quickly and accurately, by the quick follow-up with appeals, and the financial advantages offered by real-time claim adjudication.

Dr. Leibole was even impressed by the price: “On paper, athenaCollector® originally looked like it might be a little more expensive than other systems,” Dr. Leibole recalled, “but my experience has proven that nothing could be further from the truth.”
User-Friendly Web-Based Software, Quick and Easy Ramp-Up

So when Dr. Leibole was ready to start his own practice, he signed on with athenahealth and started working with the company’s practice management experts even before he opened his doors. athenahealth took care of registering him with his payers, helped develop office forms, and helped him set up the workflow pattern.

“athenahealth’s online training is fantastic!” Dr. Leibole said. “There is a lot to learn, but the training is so detailed and so easy to follow that the staff picked it up pretty quickly. athenahealth made a difficult and complex process simple.”

As a result, his office was able to get up and running on athenahealth within days–even though his staff had no billing experience or even front desk experience. He brought all of the staff in for online athenahealth training on a Thursday and Friday, and his office was open for business the following Monday.
Benchmarking Motivates Staff

One of the athenahealth features that helped motivate the staff to learn the system quickly is benchmarking. This feature provides athenahealth clients with the opportunity to optimize the financial performance of individual areas of their practices and benchmark their results against those of similar practices–by practice size, by specialty, by region, by state, and nationally.

“We ranked number two in charge entry lag time fairly soon after we first went live on athenahealth,” Dr. Leibole happily reported. “Everyone was thrilled.” That motivated the staff to work faster and more carefully as a team in order to maintain, or even exceed, that goal. “It really reinforces good habits,” Dr. Leibole affirmed, “because it is not enough to just perform the various billing related tasks quickly. In order for it to count, the tasks have to be done correctly.”
Clean Claim Rate Speeds Reimbursement

“It just makes sense when you think about it,” Dr. Leibole pointed out. “It takes just five seconds to correct a claim before it leaves the office if athenahealth’s scrubbing process identifies a problem, but it could take months to get the problem corrected if the claim goes out incorrectly.”

It certainly seems to be working well for the practice. Days in accounts receivable is at just 24 days, significantly below the industry average. Plus, Dr. Leibole has an effective employee incentive program by basing bonuses on how well the staff measures against athenahealth standards. “This is definitely a win-win,” he asserted. His small ophthalmology practice is thriving.
Payment Mismatch Identifies Lost Income

“Another huge advantage athenahealth offers is its payment mismatch function,” Dr. Leibole stated. The very first monthly mismatch report found more than $800 in underpayments from the practice’s PHO contracts as well as from other contracts. That’s newly uncovered income of nearly $10,000 a year.

“We have just begun to run these reports,” Dr. Leibole enthused, “It would not surprise me if we found more underpayments in the future. In fact, I have heard from other physicians in the PHO that they have no efficient way of checking for underpayments. athenahealth has made underpayment searching very easy. These findings alone will more than pay for the system.”
athenahealth Decision Right For Practice and Patients

Dr. Leibole expressed complete satisfaction with the decision to sign up with athenahealth. “It was certainly the way to go–from both the personal satisfaction and the financial success aspects of the practice. As anticipated, athenahealth’s technology plus service approach to practice management has greatly contributed to the practice’s financial success, as well as the personal satisfaction of being able to spend more time focusing on patient care.”

* These results reflect the experience of this particular practice and are not necessarily what every athenahealth client should expect. On average, our clients see a 37% decrease in days in accounts receivable which is based on a weighted average for athenahealth clients with valid pre-athenahealth benchmark data that had their 15-month anniversary with athenahealth during 2009.
** athenaCommunicator data was gathered during our beta testing period, prior to full release to the general public.

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