Specialty-specific EHR enables urgent care group to slash patient throughput time
While working in the emergency room, Dr. Brian Bearie realized that perhaps 80 percent of ER activities could be done more efficiently, affordably and with a better patient experience in an urgent care setting. So he founded Yucaipa Urgent Care Center, a six-location provider organization headquartered in Yucaipa, California.
"For this new urgent care business, I knew we needed an electronic health records company that specialized in the urgent care space to provide the functionality and efficiency required to make it work," said Bearie, president and medical director of Yucaipa Urgent Care Center. "In my experience, working with hospital-associated urgent care clinics, many were using EHR solutions built to serve larger health systems and it was clear that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach wouldn’t be enough."
It was important to choose technology that would serve the unique needs of the urgent care business, as the wrong EHR could result in time-consuming delays, decreased patient volumes and poor patient satisfaction, he added.
To stay competitive in the increasingly popular and competitive on-demand healthcare space and to best serve the needs of the evolved consumer patient, Yucaipa Urgent Care needed a purpose-built platform designed to serve its needs, he said.
"It had to be customizable, intuitive for staff, and enable the clinic to create a better experience for patients," Bearie explained. "Yucaipa Urgent Care wanted industry-leading solutions that would enable seamless operations and efficient healthcare delivery."
Yucaipa Urgent Care did its due diligence in researching and exploring all of its options. In the end, it chose to implement DocuTAP at its first urgent care clinic.
"DocuTAP was the only company that said they were built for urgent care clinics, which helped seal the deal in going with them," Bearie said. "The company understood that one size doesn’t fit all when it came to EHRs and the other services we needed and because of that, they could make our jobs much easier.
"A large part of our decision was based on the company’s sleek and easy-to-use interface," he added. "This included DocuTAP’s EHR, practice management, analytics and reporting functionality, and consulting and revenue cycle management services. But primarily, DocuTAP was incredibly intuitive, making it easy to implement and onboard our staff."
"Choose a solution that allows you to make it yours and best serve the needs and priorities of your business."
Dr. Brian Bearie, Yucaipa Urgent Care Center
The vendor’s technology was built to serve the unique needs of the urgent care industry and offers opportunities to tailor and customize their systems to not only serve the industry but meet the specific needs and functions of a particular practice.
"The company’s EHR platform would help streamline operations at the front desk, for clinical and billing staff, to enable the full team to deliver a seamless experience and operate at peak efficiency," Bearie explained. "The vendor had all the offerings and capabilities we were looking for."
Urgent care-specific EHRs represent just a sliver of the overall EHR market. In addition to DocuTAP, vendors that offer urgent care-specific EHRs and related systems include CureMD, DrChrono, Practice Velocity and PulseCheck.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Implementing DocuTAP’s suite of systems has significantly streamlined and improved Yucaipa’s entire workflow from the front desk to the billing department, Bearie said.
"The efficiency provided by the EHR has improved the care provided at Yucaipa as well," he added. "Our physicians are able to quickly and easily complete patients’ charts in real time during a visit, which has eliminated the need for physicians to step away from appointments and defer attention from patients to finish charting. The patient is seen, the prescription is sent, post-appointment instructions are waiting for patients at the front desk, and they are all set to go."
Yucaipa Urgent Care staff often work both at the independently owned sites that use DocuTAP and the hospital-associated sites that do not, which has garnered plenty of internal feedback.
"It was made clear almost instantly that DocuTAP is much more intuitive and efficient at facilitating daily clinical duties and patient visits," Bearie reported. "What was even more surprising was we soon realized that using DocuTAP, we could get done in two hours what took almost a full day at our other locations. The value of purpose-built solutions has been evident since the start."
Since the initial location opened, Yucaipa Urgent Care has continued using DocuTAP as the software and services provider for its additional five urgent care locations. Additionally, it implemented Clockwise.MD by DocuTAP in those locations to better engage all patients.
"It is important to also note how easy it is to reproduce the EHR for business growth," he said. "The EHR and practice management technology can automatically be replicated across urgent care sites to keep Yucaipa consistent, they also allow different care sites to communicate easily whether it be another Yucaipa clinic or another care provider."
Using DocuTAP’s suite of systems including Clockwise.MD patient engagement technology, Yucaipa Urgent Care has been able to reduce patient door-to-door throughput time to 30-45 minutes, where it used to average two hours from check-in to checkout.
"We are now able to connect with patients throughout the entire patient journey and eliminate any time wasted waiting in the waiting room," Bearie said. "In addition, check-in has been transformed to be faster and super-efficient with iPad kiosks available for patients to check-in once or check the queue of appointments ahead of them as soon as they come through the doors."
And after the visit, staff can follow up with patients using automated Clockwise survey options to measure patient satisfaction. This has helped ensure patients are happy when they leave Yucaipa, further helping ensure patients come back to the facility again, he added.
Since using the new technology, about 50 percent of Yucaipa patients have acknowledged their appointments have improved now that physicians chart in real time using the EHR on an iPad. He reported.
"The EHR has helped save time and money at Yucaipa," Bearie said. "With customized templates and same-time documentation, charting takes less than two minutes for our physicians. The EHR is intuitive and eliminates the need for tasking staff training. Because we are able to see patients faster, from the point of check-in to the discharge process, this has helped boost satisfaction for our patients and staff."
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
"The EHR technology a healthcare provider chooses is one of the most important business decisions we make," Bearie said. "It can provide great value and elevate your business to the next level or it can prove to be a significant disadvantage to the overall operation and success of a practice."
Nowhere is this truer than in the urgent care space, he added. By choosing purpose-built technology that was created to serve the urgent care industry, Yucaipa Urgent Care has significantly improved its business, he said.
"Another key component is customizability," he concluded. "Every business wants and needs different things from their technology. Choose a solution that allows you to make it yours and best serve the needs and priorities of your business. This tailored approach will provide a new level of efficiency to your practice that is unattainable otherwise."