athenahealth: Let Doctors be Doctors '

athenahealth: Let Doctors be Doctors

 Jonathan S. Bush, CEO, athenahealth The current healthcare practice management is witnessing a plethora of changes, stemming from financial regulations, inundating administrative workflows, and altering regulatory compliance. While the medical practice manager oversees a varied range of issues arising in a medical facility, the searing workload of the tasks is often overbearing for a person to single-handedly attend. From dealing with lawsuit and legislations to arranging a plumber for a malfunctioning sink, the day-to-day operations of a medical officer is expansive and tedious, regardless of the medical group size. “The role of a medical facility is to focus on care delivery and practice managers should not be entwined in remediating complex technological setbacks,” says Jonathan S. Bush, CEO, athenahealth [NASDAQ:ATHN]. Bringing unparalleled visibility into every practice, athenahealth provides cloud-based services and mobile applications for medical groups and health systems. Reimagining patient processing and practice workflow by making it more efficient; the company's athenaCollector, is a cloud-based billing and practice management solution that renders a complete view of daily staff responsibilities with real time insight.

Aligning Practice Management with Success

Encompassing patient activity from check in through check out, athenaCollector tracks information on claims, creates robust reports that are simple to run, and generates actionable insights from data related to staff productivity and payer revenue. Since one of the most core challenges in practice management revolves around monitoring and analyzing medical billing, with athenaCollector a client experiences escalated financial benefits owing to—more claims approved on first attempt, visibility into performance metrics, fewer days in accounts receivable, and an increased opportunity for better time management among office staff. “Our clients see an average six percent increase in collections. And because most of our claims are resolved on first submission, clients see an average 32 percent reduction in Days in Accounts Receivable (DAR),” remarks Bush.

To help healthcare organizations to collect more revenue, the company’s patented billing rules engine, a database of more than 40 million payer rules, flags any issues before a claim is submitted. After which a team of experts at athenahealth follow up on claims and manage denials. The team also tracks new government Pay-for- Performance (P4P) rules to help ensure a customer receives regular incentive payments. While some vendors provide conventional software that needs to be updated periodically at additional cost, athenahealth constantly updates their software and rules database to deliver faster access to insurer coding changes with no extra cost. athenaCollector also powers decision making through an intuitive workflow dashboard. Facilitating comprehensive reporting functions and bringing enhanced visibility through performance metrics Bush states that, “Everyone hates big pieces of software systems that are stuck in hospital systems where they can’t access their charts.”

To help healthcare organizations collect more revenue, the company’s patented billing rules engine, a database of more than 40 million payer rules, flags any issues before a claim is submitted

Additionally, with the firm's online patient portal, patients can pay online, as well as update information, request prescription refills and more, saving practices valuable time and effort.

Disseminating Value Based Care

Keeping in mind, value based healthcare, the company’s unique network intelligence collects and curates real-time data from providers nationwide which brings transparency in healthcare prices and reimbursement programs. According to reports by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), 90 percent medicare payments will be tied to quality by 2018. “By monitoring our network of more than 72,000 providers, we know what helps a practice thrive, and can implement those tactics for an organization,” states Bush. Moreover as current healthcare quality reforms such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are more in favor of value-based healthcare over the long-standing, fee-for-service reimbursement models; providers must meet certain quality thresholds, while containing costs.

Before joining the athenahealth network, a five-physician pediatric practice located in Milford, OH struggled with their medical billing and practice management. Other issues faced by the customer included, inability to adequately check patient eligibility and coverage before sending out claims and wasted staff time. After implementing the athenaCollector the client could identify and correct billing errors before it posed as a challenge. The practice can now track and access information on any claim, from its starting point to its payment date with simple, point-and-click reports. By joining the athenahealth network, the practice could also collaborate with thousands of providers across the nation in a powerful industry network that couldn’t have been achieved independently.

Connecting every step of the care continuum from patient outreach to cost analysis, the company's population health service, athenaCoordinator helps absorb critical population health tasks. With athenaCoordinator enterprises can seamlessly manage interoperability services, network-wide direct scheduling, and monitor financial and clinical analytics and insights. Coupled with athenaText, a secure text messaging service, athenaCoordinator enables health care providers and care teams to collaborate immediately and conveniently, disregarding their location. athenaText enables the HIPAA-compliant exchange of text, images, and patient information.

Hand-in-Hand with a Mobile World

Always aiming for utmost physician satisfaction, athenahealth compliments existing practice management strategies through a full range of mobile health apps.

“athenahealth constantly updates their software and rules database to deliver faster access to insurer coding changes with no extra cost”

In the Smartphone era, mobile health technology caters to the needs of patients and providers alike. While patients expect health information, prescriptions, and reports on their phone; physicians are providing consultation and responding to patient messages via tablets. The athenaClinicals mobile app allows medical firms to manage out of office workflow. With it, you can create patient cases, view patient charts, prescribe medications, manage the athenahealth inbox and review schedules.

To maximize efficient care through optimal connection with patients, athenahealth offers athenaClinicals, a cloud based Electronic Medical Record (EMR) which comprises an intuitive user workflow. athenaClinicals is powered by a Quality Management Engine which automatically prompts providers to fulfill quality measures at the point of care. The software also identifies quality management programs that best fit a practice, enables population health campaigns, and generates reports and submits data electronically on a client's behalf.

“By monitoring our network of more than 72,000 providers, we know what helps a practice thrive, and can implement those tactics for an organization”

In the case of a family medical practice in South Attleboro, MA, the client was burdened with under performing systems and expensive medical billing service. After deploying athenaCollector and athenaClinicals the customer significantly improved patient satisfaction. On implementing athenaCollector, the claim denials of the medical practice plummeted to less than three percent and DAR was reduced to half and a significant increase in revenue was observed. When the practice took the next step and implemented athenaClinicals as its EHR service, it achieved a 100 percent utilization rate. Since athenaClinicals is a low-investment, high-return clinical solution—its implementation required minimal start-up costs with no hardware or software installations or upgrades.

More Disruption Please

Guided by a vision to fuel disruption in healthcare, Bush remarks that, “We are proud to be recognized for the connectivity we bring to our customers but we still have a long way to go.” In the near future, the company is committed to making meaningful information sharing inherent in healthcare regardless of the IT systems in place. Over the past two decades, hospitals and physician groups have transitioned their health records from one disconnected platform to another. This fragmented health IT system has led to ineffective sharing of patient information, amongst health care institutions. “Information must follow the patient across the care continuum and we will continue to innovate and remain transparent on this very important issue,” explains Bush. Navigating through the massive technological and administrative advancements in healthcare with their competent suite of software, services, and a proprietary rules engine; athenahealth aims at further extending their reach and ability to help physician practices be informed and stay light years ahead of industrial changes in healthcare.

- Sandeepa Majumdar
    December 17, 2015