Allscripts/Tellurian/Healthfirst Case Study
Multi-Specialty Clinic Implementation
HealthFirst Physicians of Arkansas
- 26 physicians in 6 specialties
- 200+ employees
- 9 locations, plus administrative office
- Faster reimbursement
- Improved patient flow
- Easier system usage/navigation
- Reduced IT infrastructure and support costs
HealthFirst Physicians of Arkansas, PA is a multi-specialty physician group with nine locations formed in 1997 by the merger of several local clinics in the Hot Springs, Arkansas area. The practice is made up of more than 200 employees, including 26 physicians in the following specialties: internists, orthopaedic surgeons, physical medicine, urologists, general surgeons, family practice and urgent care.
Integrating Data Across Practices
Following the merger of its clinics, HealthFirst was faced with nine locations that maintained their own sets of patient charts and patient accounts. Duplicated efforts and redundant information often resulted when patients visited more than one clinic within the practice to see specialists. Other challenges included the UNIX-based practice management system that was used by the clinics. HealthFirst consumed precious staffing resources to maintain the systems, and contracted with a local networking and UNIX consultant to keep the systems running.
For HealthFirst to continue its growth and streamline operations, the practice leadership had a vision of accomplishing two things. First, the practice needed a solution that could integrate information among its practices. Second, the clinics needed a solution that would enable it to focus more on the practice of medicine, and less on maintaining complicated systems.
Allscripts Enterprise PM: Handling the Unique Requirements of Multiple Specialties
HealthFirst began its search for a new solution in the Fall of 2006 and took nearly a year to evaluate systems. "We shopped nearly every vendor out there, but most couldn't accommodate the needs of a multi-specialty group," said Michael Tankersley, CEO of HealthFirst. "We finally selected Allscripts Enterprise PM because it was a solid solution, the company had a reputation of providing good support, and because Allscripts is financially stable - unlike many of the other vendors. We wanted a company that was going to be around for the long term."
Another important factor affecting HealthFirst's decision was that Allscripts Enterprise is an integrated practice management and electronic health record (EHR) solution. HealthFirst planned to implement Allscripts Practice Management (PM) first, shortly followed by installing Allscripts Enterprise EHR. HealthFirst licensed both solutions and the first three clinics went live on Allscripts PM in February 2008. The remaining clinics are scheduled to go live by the end of the year.
Allscripts Practice Management combines sophisticated scheduling and financial management tools into a single cost-effective package that includes:
- Rules-based appointment scheduling
- Referral and eligibility indicators
- The ability to review and resolve claims issues prior to transmittal to payers
"Implementing Allscripts PM at just three clinics initially gave us to the opportunity to learn from the process and make it less disruptive as we go live at practices with higher patient volumes," said Anna Bowen, HealthFirst's software conversion project leader. Although only three clinics went live initially, all of the clinics were able to use Allscripts PM for patient scheduling.
Managing Separate Accounts
Key to the selection of Allscripts PM was the solution's ability to segregate accounts and charges at the different practices. "With Allscripts, our patients could have one patient record in the PM used by all of our clinics, but we could still maintain separate accounts at each practice, which is important to our operations," said Andi Otwell, Human Resources and systems administrator at HealthFirst.
Allscripts' ability to provide their Enterprise system as a hosted solution further influenced HealthFirst's purchasing decision. Allscripts' strategic business partner, Tellurian Networks, provided the hosting and configuration for the solution, as well as all of HealthFirst's Internet connections. "Today's software systems require sophisticated networks and computer systems that require you to have a big IT department, and we simply didn't want to get into the IT business," Tankersley said.
Shortly after implementing Allscripts PM, one benefit that HealthFirst quickly realized was that they were receiving reimbursement faster. HealthFirst attributes this to the improved workflow within the system that improves productivity to get claims submitted faster, plus the business rules in the system that check claims for errors before submission to avoid rejections. In addition, the claims submission process is further streamlined by the interface between Allscripts PM and the electronic claims network that is used by HealthFirst.
Improved Patient Flow
The scheduling capabilities of Allscripts PM have helped HealthFirst optimize scheduling to improve patient flow within its clinics. "The system is simply easier for people to use and gives them more scheduling capabilities," Otwell said. "With the hosted version of Allscripts Enterprise having a Windows-type of interface, as opposed to our previous UNIX-based system, it is easier for people to learn and enables them to do their jobs quicker."
Reduced IT Infrastructure
Using Allscripts PM as a hosted solution has eliminated the need for HealthFirst to maintain an IT staff which contributed to additional savings for the practice. For occasional network-related issues that occur within one of its clinics, HealthFirst contracts with local technical expertise as needed that works directly with Tellurian to configure routers and resolve the issue. "Tellurian has top-notch professionals. They know servers. We know about the practice of medicine. I sleep better at night knowing that they are looking after our IT needs 24/7," Tankersley said.
HealthFirst plans to go live on Allscripts PM at its remaining clinics by the end of the 2008. "We learned a great deal during the go live at our first three clinics, so I expect that the go live at our other clinics will be an even smoother process," Bowen said.
Planning for the roll-out of Allscripts Enterprise EHR is currently taking place, and HealthFirst expects the first clinic go live to occur in late 2008 or early 2009.