athenahealth’s open platform allows a national physician group to create integrated, innovative user experiences
Privia Health™ is a national physician organization that works in partnership with health plans, health systems, and employers to better align reimbursements to quality and outcomes – and the company partners with athenahealth to realize these goals. In addition to using athenahealth’s medical record, patient engagement, and revenue cycle services, Privia also builds its own applications and workflows on the athenahealth platform to tailor its health IT system to its organization’s and providers’ unique needs.
Privia’s technology team works with business leaders across the organization to identify those needs and the various ways that technology can help drive results for the business. In doing so, the team evaluates whether to partner externally or build something themselves. Before making these decisions, Chief Technology Officer Chris Voigt asks, “How do we meet providers where they are? They’re in athena. So we’re looking for integrated solutions that don’t require a separate login, a separate web page, or additional steps.” Increasingly, the best approach to meet Privia’s strategic needs is to develop a solution internally that connects seamlessly to the athenahealth platform, using athenahealth APIs.
Online direct scheduling is easy for patients and providers
One of the first tools that Privia built using athenahealth’s Platform Services was online direct scheduling functionality that saves time for patients and providers. Privia wanted to offer patients a scheduling experience that didn’t require logging into the patient portal, which brought together all of Privia’s care centers in one space. “We really wanted to make sure we were personalizing the experience for the patient, allowing them to seamlessly schedule an appointment in the care center where they already had a relationship, and also to prevent that login step that can be a deterrent,” says Stacy Lutz, Vice President of Product Engineering.
To build the experience, Privia leveraged athenahealth’s APIs. “It was pretty straightforward. The data was as we expected it to be,” says Lutz. The result, “Find a Doctor,” allows patients to search for available appointments without logging into a patient portal. Once they book their appointment, data seamlessly flows into the doctor’s schedule. Four years after “Find a Doctor” launched, about 15 percent of all appointments with Privia providers are scheduled through this functionality each month.
This resource helps providers across specialties deliver a better experience for their patients. As consumers, “we use OpenTable or Uber or other services all the time, and they offer instant satisfaction,” says Voigt. “At Privia, we wanted to deliver that same experience to our patients.” Providers and staff like it, too, since the functionality saves time on the phone.
Virtual visits meet the patient and provider where they are
With patients responding positively to “Find a Doctor,” Privia has built new functionality that extends the online tool to allow patients to schedule virtual visits that take place via secure web conferencing. The technology takes into account both providers’ availability and whether they accept virtual visits. Using the same athenahealth APIs as “Find a Doctor”, information regarding the patient’s virtual visit gets pushed back into the athenaClinicals EHR so that a provider sees it in his or her schedule just like any other appointment. Then providers can conduct the visit through the same workflows they use for their in-office visits.
Patient-reported data saves time reporting on quality measures
As an organization, Privia is focused on taking on more risk and continuously expanding its providers’ ability to participate successfully in value-based care programs. Privia teams were reviewing all the options available to providers to report on quality measures, which included talking to patients during office visits to gather data or hiring staff to follow up with patients and track down data outside the visit – both resource-intensive options.
Privia found an opportunity in the quality measures that payers allow patients to report. The organization decided to try collecting information on some of these measures through patient portal message campaigns. “We took the four most common quality measures, which are flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, colon cancer screening, and breast cancer screening,” Lutz explained. Any patient who appeared to have a gap in one of these measures received an automated message through the patient portal.
As patients replied, Privia automatically pushed the patient-reported data back into each patient’s chart using athenahealth APIs. The first customer to build such an application, Privia worked closely with athenahealth developers on this innovative partnership, and they were able to complete it quickly – in a mere three months, according to Privia’s estimates. Privia ran the campaigns twice in six months, and during the second run, Lutz calculated they closed 12,000 care gaps. She estimated five minutes of time saved per gap closed, which added up to 125 business days.
In addition to capturing quality data that would impact the organization’s contracts, the initiative also prompted patients to schedule appointments for preventive care, as they remembered that they hadn’t yet had a screening or vaccine. And it left providers with a little less busywork. “We don’t want our doctors to have to consume their brief time with the patient in an encounter asking about flu shots or pneumonia shots. If it’s already been taken care of, it doesn’t even come up. So, we’re enriching that time that the provider has with the patient during an encounter, by taking these things off their plate,” said Voigt.
The athenahealth platform helps Privia innovate faster
When it comes to innovations built in-house at Privia, Voigt credits the ease of working with athenahealth’s Platform Services for enabling his team to quickly produce integrated solutions. “The openness of the API and the ability to read the documentation online are super easy, enabling us to do minimal testing inside the site it’s presented in – that’s really big for us,” he says.
Lutz’s Product Engineering team also appreciates platform tools that allow them to test ideas quickly before building them out, such as IO Docs, which they can use to investigate the parameters of an API before sending it to developers.
“As new challenges arise, we’re finding we can deliver solutions very quickly because we’re tightly integrated with athena and we can leverage the API. That definitely expedites our efforts,” says Voigt.