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The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group

A Decade of Partnership Strengthens Orthopaedic Practice

 

A large Orthopaedic group needed an efficient and integrated practice management, EMR and medical scheduling software service. They implemented athenahealth’s suite of services, including athenaCommunicator, which includes automated messaging services and a medical scheduling software that patients can access online.

 



Organization

  • Located in San Antonio, TX
  • 23 physicians
  • 280 employees
  • 7 offices
  • 100,000 patient visits annually

Issues

  • Long wait for payments
  • Huge error rate in claims submissions
  • Too much server downtime
  • Doctors and administrators tied to office
  • Difficult or impossible to get practice data

Solutions

Results

  • Average days in accounts receivable (DAR) reduced 70%*
  • Collections per day increased 80% in first three months
  • First-pass claims resolution rate increased from 10% to over 90%
  • athenaCommunicator reduced call volume to local help desk by around 1,500 calls/month**
  • Doctors and administrators can work from anywhere
  • Practice can access data of all kinds in real time
The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group has been in practice for more than 60 years. “Our previous systems were IDX, Medical Manager, paper, and before that, I think, stone,” quips Chief Operating Offi cer Chris Kean. Over the years, the group has grown to seven offi ces, 23 physicians, and 280 employees. With more than 100,000 patient visits annually, the group requires effi cient systems for collections, clinical practice, and patient communications. athenahealth has been able to answer all of those needs. - See more at: https://www.athenahealth.com/case-studies/orthopedic-EHR.php#sthash.ODYnIiRA.dpuf
The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group has been in practice for more than 60 years. “Our previous systems were IDX, Medical Manager, paper, and before that, I think, stone,” quips Chief Operating Officer Chris Kean. Over the years, the group has grown to seven offices, 23 physicians, and 280 employees. With more than 100,000 patient visits annually, the group requires efficient systems for collections, clinical practice, and patient communications. athenahealth has been able to answer all of those needs.

Immediate Benefits Realized

The practice did a pilot implementation of athenaCollector in 2000. “The rules engine was a huge seller,” says Carrie Miller, Director of Professional Reimbursement. “Nobody offered that then, and I don’t think even now anyone’s rules engine is as sophisticated as athenahealth’s.” athenahealth’s patented billing rules engine promised to increase the practice’s 65% first pass resolution rate for claims. The group also recognized the convenience of a cloud-based solution that would allow access from anywhere. Finally, they needed implementation in 90 days, and athenahealth promised to meet this goal.

The changeover timeline was met, and staff members began using athenaCollector effectively within one week, compared with many weeks to train staff on just the rudiments of the old system. “The percentage of claims we submitted that had errors dropped to the low single digits and we increased collections signifi cantly in just three months, says Chief Executive Offi cer Sani Mirza.” The group’s days in accounts receivable (DAR) was also reduced by 70%.

- See more at: https://www.athenahealth.com/case-studies/orthopedic-EHR.php#sthash.ODYnIiRA.dpuf
Immediate Benefits Realized

The practice did a pilot implementation of athenaCollector in 2000. “The rules engine was a huge seller,” says Carrie Miller, Director of Professional Reimbursement. “Nobody offered that then, and I don’t think even now anyone’s rules engine is as sophisticated as athenahealth’s.” athenahealth’s patented billing rules engine promised to increase the practice’s 65% first pass resolution rate for claims. The group also recognized the convenience of a cloud-based solution that would allow access from anywhere. Finally, they needed implementation in 90 days, and athenahealth promised to meet this goal.

The changeover timeline was met, and staff members began using athenaCollector effectively within one week, compared with many weeks to train staff on just the rudiments of the old system. “The percentage of claims we submitted that had errors dropped to the low single digits and we increased collections significantly in just three months, says Chief Executive Officer Sani Mirza.” The group’s days in accounts receivable (DAR) was also reduced by 70%.
Partner Goals Aligned with Practice Goals

San Antonio Orthopaedic has long been impressed by the way athenahealth stays involved. "So many companies say, 'We'll be here for two days; we'll train you as a group; and then we're out of here; you can call this 800 number,'" says Miller. "athenahealth assigns you an implementation team that sticks with you until you're out of the implementation phase." Kean continues, "Then, you get an account manager who manages your practice with you, troubleshoots for you. Unlike with other vendors we've used, we have a relationship with athenahealth."

Mirza believes that athenahealth's pricing model encourages a partnership relationship. "Other companies are only motivated to sell you the software," he says. "They don't care what your collections are, or if you run the system efficiently, or if you load in all the contracts. They just want to sell you the product, and they're out. With athenahealth's pricing model, our incentives are aligned. The more money we make as a practice, the more money athenahealth makes."

Kean adds, "There's an advantage to our fees being in relationship to our revenue. For example, if the government doesn't fix this Medicare situation, and we have a 21% reduction in our payments, athenahealth's going to get hit with that, too. If I was paying a fixed price, the cost for my medical billing would go up relative to my revenue going down."
Growing Needs, Growing Partnership

Over the years, San Antonio Orthopaedic has seen athenahealth make continuous improvements. "We like to slice and dice the data many different ways in order to run our practice more effectively," says Miller. "athenahealth has made that possible." There was initial fear about downtime, but, in fact, the practice has had far less downtime with athenahealth than with its previous vendors. "Even our doctors aren't afraid of downtime any more—and that's saying something," says Kean.

When it came time to choose an electronic health record (EHR) solution, San Antonio Orthopaedic chose athenaClinicals®, athenahealth’s cloud-based EHR service. “The portability provided by athenaClinicals is a very powerful enticement,” says Mirza. “For example, a doctor could be in another country, see what his clinic schedule looked like, and determine whether he could stay an extra day.” Kean adds, “If doctors are on call and dealing with patients they don’t know, they can see the patients’ charts immediately. We forget that in some practices doctors still have to open up the office and pull charts to do this.”

In February 2010, San Antonio Orthopaedic implemented athenaCommunicator®, athenahealth’s on-demand, automated, and live communication services. “Fifty percent of our patient communications via the web portal are after hours—patients love the convenience,” says Kean. “And doctors love being able to send messages to patients via the portal without having to play ‘phone tag.’ Patients also get automatic statement reminders and can pay their bills via the portal using Credit Card Plus. This has improved our ability to collect and streamlined the billing process.” Thanks to athenaCommunicator, calls to the local help desk have dropped by around 1,500 calls per month, saving significant staff time and money.**
A Partner Looking to the Practice's Future

San Antonio Orthopaedics feels it has a true partner in athenahealth, one that provides continuous, seamless, real-time introduction of upgrades and new features. "That kind of improvement and integration just keeps going and going," says Miller.

"I don't think athenahealth gets enough credit for that," says Mirza. "With all the capabilities that are integrated into athenahealth's products, we save money in many areas. We save on reminder calls, on hiring experts to deal with managed care contracts, on loading in data, on employee training, and because of clean claims we are able to collect our money faster. Instead of having multiple products that do these things—and maybe not do them as well athenahealth—we accomplish it all with one company."

* These results reflect the experience of this particular practice and are not necessarily what every athenahealth client should expect. Our clients see an average 9.2% increase in collections and 37% decrease in days in accounts receivable. Our average client metrics are 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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