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An EHR that delivers results

Arizona doctors credit EHR with helping them grow their practice into the largest of its specialty in the state.

B By LaShonza Alexis

efore implementing an electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) system, Drs. Goodman & Partridge, OB/GYN was a seven- provider specialty practice. Today, the Chandler, Ariz.-based practice has 37 providers, including 26 physicians in seven offi ces, and is the largest OB/GYN practice in Arizona. In addition, it has boosted bottom-line revenue by more than 26 percent. Perhaps even more astounding than its revenue growth, the practice also has been able to reduce expenses by more than $1.5 million a year while improving patient care and satisfac- tion. The practice credits much of this growth to an EHR system that has virtually eliminated paper from operations and provided invaluable, extra features, such as customizable templates, automated recalls and marketing ROI reports. Much of the cost savings the practice has realized can be traced to a reduction in paper costs and transcription fees, but it also comes from greater effi ciencies gained at each of the practice’s offi ces. For example, multiple providers can work in the same chart at once, all offi ces share the same chart information and real-time billing information is available for instant analysis.

Most importantly to the providers, the EHR system has helped Drs. Goodman & Partridge, OB/GYN deliver better patient care. The practice communicates more effectively with women about their pregnancies and personal health; it also helps patients stay involved in their health and adherent with their care plans.

Eliminating paper saves millions Drs. Goodman & Partridge, OB/GYN went live with its EHR system on May 1, 2005. The most immediate and tangible fi nancial benefi t for the practice was eliminating paper from daily operations, as well as the labor involved in recording and sharing patient data on paper. With seven providers at the time, the practice employed four full-time, in-house transcriptionists who were paid $31,200 each per year. Four “chart runners” each were paid $19,968 per year plus mileage reimbursement to drive charts between the practice’s various locations. (In order to best ac-

18 February 2012

commodate the practice’s OB/GYN patients, Drs. Goodman & Partridge encourages patients to visit whichever location is most convenient for each visit. Paper-based charts, therefore, had to be routed to the right location for each scheduled visit.) The practice had long faxed prenatal information to local hospitals for unex- pected and expected patient visits, but implementation of the EHR eliminated

LaShonza Alexis is the billing supervisor at Drs. Goodman & Partridge, OB/GYN. For more on NextGen Healthcare:

the need for chart transport between offi ces and hospitals. By sending prenatal records through its EHR system, the hospitals and on-call physicians can review any patient’s previous and current conditions.

The practice’s IT staff helped providers transition to the EHR by taking advantage of the system’s template editor. Dur- ing training and rollout, physicians and other providers worked with electronic documents that were nearly identical to the paper forms they were used to. Furthermore, the system’s document builder allowed staff members to design fi les similar to those their transcriptionists created. By initially customizing the forms and fi les to mimic the

paper-based processes providers and staff were familiar with, the practice quickly gained crucial buy-in. Over time, the practice gradually has enhanced its templates to collect more relevant information at the point of care, but still using formats preferred by providers.

IT staff members have developed several customized templates for the practice to document procedures that require specialized equipment and specifi c documentation. For example, when the practice recently began offering uro- dynamic testing, the IT staff developed a custom template to record the procedure using the providers’ specifi c input, while integrating the new service with the template suite providers access daily. Today, it would require 22 transcriptionists and 22 chart runners to support the 37 providers if the practice still used paper records. Factoring in infl ation, switching to an EHR has saved the practice more than $1.4 million a year in salaries plus more than $86,000 annually for 215,280 reimbursed miles.


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