StrideCare drops 10 EHR systems and unifies Texas-wide practices with athenahealth

"With consolidated data, we now can measure areas where we were unable to before the transition. Now we can access the data quickly and are able to focus our attention on actions to improve performance."
By Bill Siwicki
11:56 AM
StrideCare headquarters Dallas

Based in Dallas, StrideCare has practices across the vast landmass of Texas. It's a fast-growing physician group focused on delivering comprehensive lower-extremity care. Its providers offer multidisciplinary treatment for common and complex problems involving lower leg, foot and ankle conditions.

THE PROBLEM

As the largest podiatric group in Texas, StrideCare faced several challenges due to the pandemic – and knew it needed to use this time to improve clinical workflows, operational efficiencies and financial results while enabling growth.

But StrideCare was operating multiple electronic health record systems – an operational challenge it knew could be fixed by streamlining onto one platform for its providers.

PROPOSAL

Transitioning to athenahealth's EHR platform, athenaOne, offered StrideCare the opportunity to accelerate care coordination, align provider workflows and meet quality measures using the vendor's cloud-based solutions for medical billing, patient engagement and patient care, said Al Wilson, vice president of operations at StrideCare.

"While initially engaging with the team at athenahealth, we could tell they understood our vision and unique challenges, and have helped us seamlessly and successfully integrate the company's intuitive technology in a matter of weeks, enabling us to immediately improve how we manage our business and, ultimately, how we care for our patients," Wilson said.

"If the system is intuitive, relatively easy to follow for the providers, and provides support services to providers to improve their daily work, your chances of success are greatly increased."

Al Wilson, StrideCare

Another big factor that went into StrideCare's decision to move forward with the vendor was the vendor's readiness to get the provider organization up and running quickly. The two companies converted 10 EHR systems to athenaOne in summer 2020 in about seven weeks, which Wilson found "extremely impressive."

MARKETPLACE

There are many vendors with electronic health records systems on the health IT market, including Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, DrChrono, eClinicalWorks, Epic, Greenway Health, HCS, Meditech and NextGen Healthcare.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

The new EHR has increased visibility into each practice's data, which offers StrideCare valuable insights into operational trends, including patient volume. Additionally, the new EHR has improved StrideCare's care coordination and referral processes, since providers now can be managed within one system.

The new EHR also has helped StrideCare more easily adhere to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) quality program. This has enhanced the overall level of care the medical group provides to patients, Wilson noted.

"As the partnership grows in the coming months, we aim to harden our operational processes among all staff and practices," he explained. "We're looking to accelerate our claims process and ensure consistent billing to improve the patient experience and financial outcomes for the business. Additionally, we look forward to being able to more easily refine care protocols based on care outcomes through working on one EHR system."

RESULTS

StrideCare was able to transition all of its providers to athenaOne. Within four months from go-live it acquired four new practices that originally were on four different EHR platforms and transitioned them to athenaOne.

"The most significant impact is the ability to access practice data from one common source and to benchmark and compare our practices with one another," Wilson stated. "With consolidated data, we now can measure areas where we were unable to before the transition. We spent more time trying to get the data and measures, but now we can access the data quickly and are able to focus our attention on actions to improve performance."

There were several key areas StrideCare selected to measure success through the transition to athenaOne, Wilson said. These included:

  • Physician adoption. Some 100% of providers are engaged, and have a same-day encounter close rate of 70%. As part of the implementation process, athenahealth provides one-on-one consulting sessions with providers to help with questions, and is developing accelerators and building efficiencies to allow for improved documentation.

  • Revenue cycle efficiencies. AR days improved from 68 to 35. Electronic remittance increased from 90% to 99%. The integrated billing and clearinghouse functionality allows for improved clean claim rates, thus reducing denials from the payers and increasing cash flow. The reporting functionality in athenaOne highlights key performance metrics easily visible to managers and providers, where management can easily set targets and monitor improvement.

  • MIPS quality. StrideCare was able to secure baseline MIPS quality measure performance for 2020 reporting period. Before the new EHR, many of the providers were not participating in quality performance reporting. The athenaOne quality program, dashboards and support have allowed StrideCare to quickly select the measures for the group, while they educate physicians and staff and monitoring progress on achieving performance targets.

With consolidated data, StrideCare now can measure areas where it was unable to efficiently track on multiple systems before the transition, Wilson said.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

"While there are many EHR options on the market today, we needed to consolidate on a platform that would provide long-term value to a growing organization like ours," Wilson explained. "The key for us is that we needed a system that is intuitive and comprehensive, and [one that] offers significant resources for both staff and provider support.

"I would recommend other provider groups consider the key driver of success with any EHR system – and that is provider adoption," he concluded.

"If the system is intuitive, relatively easy to follow for the providers, and provides support services to providers to improve their daily work, your chances of success are greatly increased."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bsiwicki@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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