Like many practices today, Pediatric Partners of San Diego is taking steps to keep up with industry change, whether that means participating in new payment models or collaborating with other providers in the community. But even as the practice pursues new opportunities, it's important to be able to maintain certain continuities — like using an EHR that its providers love.
When Pediatric Partners was approached by Rady Children’s Hospital to join its ACO, the EHR was a deal-breaker. Joining the ACO was contingent on switching to Epic, and Pediatric Partners had been using athenaClinicals since 2001, when athenahealth’s EHR was still in its beta phase. The practice turned down Rady’s offer. “I told them that I couldn’t pry athenaClinicals out of the dead, cold hands of my pediatricians,” laughs Tom Mohr, MD, President and CEO of Pediatric Partners.
Pediatric Partners’ long relationship with athenahealth continues to deliver positive outcomes. The practice is able to contract with Rady's ACO while keeping its preferred EHR because athenahealth manages the complex financial reporting and billing required. With this supportive partnership, Pediatric Partners is able to maximize efficiency to focus on patients.
Intuitive Workflows Help Focus on Patients
Pediatric Partners prefers athenaClinicals because it helps them remain efficient and focus on patients. athenaClinicals’ pediatric workflows are intuitive to make documentation faster and more natural for Dr. Mohr and his team. With easier documentation, providers can see more patients and maintain a fuller schedule, ultimately increasing practice revenue.
Integrated within athenaClinicals is Epocrates, a point-of-care medical application providing clinical decision support for safety, diagnosis, and treatment options. Epocrates surfaces critical information in the moment of care so providers are able to give patients their full attention. For example, many pediatric prescriptions are based on weight rather than age. Epocrates takes the guess work out of dosage when prescribing medication for children by giving providers access to best practice recommendations without having to leave the EHR. “When you make a diagnosis, athenaClinicals gives you knowledge of the whole network to suggest medication based on your past order history and based on what other providers have prescribed,” says Dr. Mohr. The built-in support “is a great fail-safe when you have a two-year-old who is 20 pounds versus 40 pounds.”
athenahealth’s cloud-based, easy-to-use documentation tools give providers access to the information they need, wherever they are. With this flexibility providers can maintain clinical efficiency and work-life balance. “They get a lot of choice as to how they use their time; [and] because [athenaOne is] cloud-based, they can use it outside of the office,” says Dr. Mohr. Providers can document encounters, complete paperwork (such as school and camp forms, which can be annotated directly in the patient chart), and even communicate with patients, from anywhere.
Accessing Important Information in the Moment of Care
With clear documentation, a consistent format, and a single EHR, all providers at Pediatric Partners have access to the information they need to provide the best care for patients. This includes real-time industry and local updates. For example, a recent outbreak of whooping cough in Southern California initiated a local change in vaccination schedule recommendations from six weeks to ten weeks. This information was disseminated to the entire practice at once. Pediatric Partners providers immediately had access to the new recommended schedule, embedded directly in their existing clinical workflows. “We retooled the whole office and practice so that everyone was on the same page.”
athenaClinicals gives providers easy access to patient information regardless of where patients went for care, so they can make more informed care decisions. With athenahealth’s bidirectional integration and interoperability capabilities, Pediatric Partners is able to share essential information like test results, clinical notes, and follow-up schedules with Rady Children’s Hospital and other providers in the community. This kind of communication and integration enables Pediatric Partners to focus on patients, rather than searching for information across multiple systems, and to deliver timely, quality care.
Effective Patient Communication with Less Work
Strong patient communication at each step of the visit is integral to Pediatric Partners’ daily operations. athenahealth helps Pediatric Partners drive patient engagement using pre-built, automated outreach campaigns, including wellness visit scheduling reminders, preventative care for at-risk populations, and seasonal reminders for vaccines and immunizations. “Before that, it was manual and we had to call each patient. Now we deploy outreach and it happens instantly,” says Dr. Mohr.
Providers continue to engage patients after the visit by using the patient portal to communicate lab and test results, collect payment, and message securely. These tools encourage patients and their families to take a more active role in their care while reducing hours of administrative work for providers.
athenaOne’s built-in, automated appointment reminders reduce no-shows to help maintain a full schedule. And eligibility checking confirms patients’ insurance coverage before they come in. “It keeps the revenue flow moving without having to call insurance companies and manually verify each patient,” says Dr. Mohr.
A True Partnership
After many years of using athenahealth’s services, Pediatric Partners has found a partnership that enables them to provide quality care, focus on patients, and increase clinical efficiency, while contracting with the ACO. “With athenahealth, we’re given the flexibility to be able to contract with multiple groups and keep care aligned and coordinated. We wouldn’t be able to do that with any other system,” says Dr. Mohr. athenahealth's dedication to support, through financial reporting and billing, provides Pediatric Partners with confidence to continue entering new contract opportunities. “It’s a true partnership. There’s a vested interest from athenahealth in your wellbeing and health as a practice. That’s a rare thing.”