How athenaOne helps your small practice maintain independence and drive growth

June 14, 2024

How athenaOne helps your small practice maintain independence and drive growth

The challenges small healthcare practices face as they grow

A recent study of one thousand physicians in the U.S. revealed that 62% of those interviewed don’t believe that their medical practice is financially secure.1 That puts physicians today in the position of fearing that they’ll lose their independence, or that they’ll have to make cuts to an already lean team of care providers. This pressure only increases for small, independent practices that must manage a variety of daily clinical and administrative tasks and processes with a multi-tasking team. Without that financial security, how can small practices strive to grow their business?

If you’re running a small healthcare practice, you don’t have the luxury of ignoring your business’ bottom line. If you do, it’s easy to slip into the overwhelming trend in US healthcare––the consolidation of independent practices into the larger groups and systems that have started to dominate the landscape. In fact, there was an 86% increase in the number of practices owned by corporate entities from January 2019 to January 2022.2

In order to maintain your practice’s independence from larger competitors, you need to reckon with a number of pervasive challenges facing the industry. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common below:

• Ever-changing regulations and policies at the national level, such as compliance with quality programs and MIPS
• Various barriers and blockers that payers impose on practices seeking reimbursement 
• Working claims that payers have denied, and resubmitting them for payment
• The introduction of new payment programs and staying up to date with their list of requirements 
• Obtaining and sharing clinical information with other care providers as needed

How can you combat these challenges to expand your business?

As we’ve seen, smaller healthcare practices face numerous obstacles to growing and expanding. Smaller practices need to begin combatting those obstacles with a strong partner that will prioritize their success.

So, what kinds of changes should your practice be implementing to help enable growth?

1. Switching to a cloud-based system that integrates updates in real time for all customers, whether you’re a doctor-owner practice or a large-multi-physician organization.

2. Choosing a tool that learns from the collective experience of all customers, instead of a siloed tool that forces practices to navigate complex healthcare industry requirements on their own.

3. Leveraging that tool to help with appointment reminders and patient outreach campaigns, so that small practices don’t have to work as hard to maintain, and increase, schedule density.

4. Finding a partner, not just software, who can act as an extension of your practice and take on time-consuming manual work, such as claim follow-up and payment posting. One that prioritizes digital data-sharing so that providers have the clinical information they need to deliver effective, informed care.

The hopeful news is that athenaOne may provide the tools and partnership you need to reach the next phase of growth for your business. athenaOne can help keep patients engaged and more likely to return (and recommend you to others), control your daily scheduling and patient density efficiently, and gain actionable insights into your revenue streams and performance.

Let’s see how this looks in practice.

The role of athenaOne in physician practice growth

So how can purpose-built technology help you grow your business? athenaOne not only helps you implement changes that can enable your small practice's growth, but it can also help you do it faster and more efficiently so you can focus on patient care.

Let’s look at a few key areas where athenaOne can help your business: strengthening patient engagement, creating clinical efficiency, and maximizing revenue.

Enhancing patient engagement and care coordination

One way that athenaOne can help strengthen your business’ bottom line is by helping keep patients engaged and coming back. A strong, dependable patient base serves as a solid foundation to continue to build upon. There are a few steps you can take to establish this foundation.

First, athenaOne provides tools to help keep your patients engaged. Your patients should know they have easy access to their health information, and a direct line of contact with you. athenaOne also provides you with outreach tools so you can stay proactive in engaging your whole patient population. This can be especially useful during seasonal outbreaks and larger-scale public health crises.

Part of keeping patients engaged is providing them opportunities for self-service. Patients want to be able to schedule appointments on their own, and message their provider when it’s convenient to them. athenaOne gives your patients the option to make and adjust appointments, ask questions, and review test results and diagnoses without an intermediary (i.e., your paid staff). Combining these self-service features with automated appointment reminders and other patient outreach can help you and your team boost productivity while simultaneously delivering the flexibility your patients want.

When it comes to health records, athenaOne gives you an up-to-date, comprehensive view of your patient’s care history with an EHR that automatically incorporates data from across the healthcare ecosystem. With athenaOne’s single-instance cloud system, all practices are part of an intelligent, nationwide network. Any information learned via supporting one practice can be submitted into the system and instantly shared with thousands of providers across the country. With a connected network, the care you provide your patients will be both informed and complemented by the care delivered by their other physicians. This interoperability also simplifies the receipt, review, and discussion of test results and other documentation with patients.

When your patients feel they have easy access to you and their own health information, and that you are working effectively with other care providers, chances are they’ll be happy. And happy patients keep coming back.

Simplifying documentation tasks to enhance clinical efficiency

One of the big benefits emerging technologies have brought to the business world in recent years is automation––the ability for sophisticated software systems to quickly and accurately perform common tasks and processes that were previously managed manually. The same is true in healthcare.

For example, how many of your patient encounters follow a similar pattern? athenaOne includes pre-built templates that provide workflows tailored to your specialty and style of care. Not only does this make for more efficient appointments––it allows you to focus on what you got into healthcare for in the first place—caring for patients.

athenaOne helps enable clinical efficiency, helping make your time with patients more effective and productive. athenaOne automatically surfaces clinical data from across our network of healthcare organizations, care sites, labs, and more, seamlessly into the patient record. That means you have a much more comprehensive snapshot of your patient’s health history the moment you start looking over their electronic chart. Not only will you see any previous diagnoses and other notes from your patient’s previous visits, but you’ll also see the same kind of information from their other care providers—and you can then choose whether or not to add it to your records. The more current and accurate information you have, the more coordinated and effective care you can deliver to patients.

Driving revenue with superior billing and claims assistance

Automation isn’t only useful for clinical workflows. One of the best places to apply automation within a healthcare practice is for your core tasks around billing and coding.

athenaOne’s robust revenue cycle management capabilities can help automate your processes for billing, patient verification, claim creation and submission, claim resolution, and more. athenahealth is helping many small practices similar to yours manage revenue—in fact, 83% of our customers represent small practices of 1-5 physicians.3

Our servicing personnel draw from this wealth of experience to share tailored, actionable insights into emerging trends and best practices we're seeing across the market.

When denials happen, athenaOne not only works them with a goal of claim payment. It also analyzes what could have prevented the denials in the first place, so you get paid from the get-go next time. That analysis informs our rules engine, which features over 33,000 rules that keep your claims clean and accurate.4

With so much valuable and important data about your patients and practice running through athenaOne, it also functions as an analytics tool. For instance, you can quickly view a revenue cycle dashboard and other reporting capabilities so you can track key financial performance indicators like collections yields, average time to get paid, trends in patient volumes, and much more. The better you understand your strengths and weaknesses today, the better positioned you’ll be to grow.

The path forward for small healthcare practice success

Healthcare technology continues to evolve and improve at a fast pace. Thankfully, with athenaOne, independent practices can harness the most impactful benefits of emerging tech to boost patient engagement, automate and streamline many crucial administrative and clinical tasks, build healthier revenue practices, and ultimately grow and expand to better meet patients’ needs.

See how athenaOne is helping small practices like yours expand their business using athenaOne®

1. athenahealth, Physician Sentiment Survey 2023-2024 via the Harris Poll;; IS093

2. Advisory Board, Nov 2023, What you need to know about rising medical group consolidation; pg.3;; IS054

3. Based on athenahealth data as of Dec. 2023; M004

4. Based on athenahealth data as of Mar. 2024; M017