Few things strike greater fear into the heart of a pediatrician than the thought of an EHR switch. And for that reason, many pediatricians stay stuck with an EHR vendor that doesn't work for them. For these physicians, the prospect of downtime, the upheaval, and the chaos of data conversions is too strong a deterrent. And with that, the motivation to change what's not working fades.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
We sat down with one of our clients, One Family Pediatrics (OFP) in Cumming, Georgia, to hear their story.
At the helm of OFP is Dr. Hiral Lavania, and working close by her side is Nurse Manager, Laraleigh Windom. OFP is a shining example of how to plunge into an EHR implementation as a small startup practice and come out the other side, successful.
After working in a group setting, Dr. Lavania dreamed of starting her own practice. She wanted to create a true patient centered medical home; a place where she could educate parents and positively impact kids' health. The EHR vendor she had been working with had become problematic, with software updates that crashed upon installation, hidden fees, and support that didn't fit the bill. She knew there had to be a better vendor for her new startup, and set about researching options. That's when she found PCC, and in 2016, plans to make her new practice a reality began.
Getting this new startup ready to open its doors was not without challenges. Dr. Lavania kicked off her training with PCC in May of 2015, thinking she'd open in June. But then the build-out of her new office space was delayed by 6 months. When opening day finally came the following March, OFP was slated to open at 8am with 17 people scheduled and.... no certificate of occupancy. So the morning began with patients being seen in a room at the Urgent Care next door, waiting in a makeshift outdoor "lobby" so the fire marshall could complete the inspection and they could go inside the new office!
Listening to this story, you'd expect Dr. Lavania to have come away from opening day with a negative feeling. However, what stood out for her was the support she felt from PCC's Implementation Specialist - he had traveled from PCC's headquarters to be there in person for opening day and oversaw the whole event from start to finish. And, she said, he had prepared them well in the months leading up to their Go Live.
Dr. Lavania stressed,
"If you follow the timeline PCC provides, there is no fear involved because you familiarize yourself with everything. There are videos online. There are people available to teach you. And you really need to attend the kickoff meeting. We also refined our protocols in the interim [between kickoff and GoLive] so that made everything great."
Following up on this, Laraleigh shared,
"PCC even came back a few months later to help us refine. We opened in March and they came back in August to fine tune where we might have been slowing down. Who does that?!! They helped with stuff we weren't familiar with. Some of the front office things were still new. PCC helped us speed up our processes - things like verifying insurance or checking demographics. They took the time to train us on non-EHR things and showed us what to do to get through certain processes. They went above and beyond every time. There was a learning curve, especially on the front end. But they got us to a place of feeling comfortable with it before they left. They also gave us a list of checks and balances to look at so that we could double-check our work."
Dr. Lavania also shared that she spent time creating patient charts in the EHR ahead of opening day. Exploring the charting aspect in advance of GoLive helped her to feel comfortable with the software. She also took her PCC trainer's advice to "develop a workflow and do it that way every time so that you remember to do everything." Dr. Lavania said,
"We had no idea our trainers would know so much about practice management. This just shows that with PCC you learn all aspects of a pediatric office."
Fast forward to the present, and after a couple of years of using their EHR, the practice has had time to assess whether the implementation process was worth it. Their takeaway is a resounding "yes." Making the decision to go with a brand new vendor who was tailored to their specialty brought many benefits. It could have been easy to stick with the software they were used to, and put up with the aspects they disliked in order to avoid change, but taking the plunge into working with a new vendor despite any fears about the process has proven to be a great decision.
One Family Pediatrics has utilized many of the software's features in order to increase their success. One of the main tools they've come back to regularly is the Practice Vitals Dashboard – a tool for taking the financial and clinical pulse of the practice. As Dr. Lavania enthusiastically says,
"I love the Dashboard! We bring it up in team meetings all the time to show how we're doing as a practice. We use it to take the overall pulse and see how we're functioning compared to everyone else. It motivates us to stay on top. For example, we dropped our no-show rate significantly from 12-15% to about 3%. Just having the numbers made us aware and then take action. We just changed how we were notifying patients and that was enough. When we began to see progress, we doubled down. The Dashboard is great for stuff like that – it helps motivate our team. And with monthly updates, it gives us a monthly deadline to work on things. When you start seeing changes, you start getting addicted to the improvement of the practice. Just start with baby steps."
Speaking of working on things, workflow is another prominent topic at OFP. Dr. Lavania says, "We talk about workflow like it's air. 'How's the workflow'? 'What's going on with the workflow'? We're always talking about it." She continues, "We've very much about efficiency. Time is money. When you have to spend time to go back and fix problems, it sucks up money. Our staff is used to implementing change and everyone is committed to it. Having something like a Dashboard lets us see where change is needed, and to follow up and see how it worked."
It's not just the Dashboard that has increased OFP's success. According to Dr. Lavania, their software has also helped to improve their revenue cycle. She says,
"If it weren't for the robust practice management aspect of the software, we wouldn't have found all the times insurance companies were underpaying us, or not even paying us at all. With this software, it's easy to pull up reports like that, to help you see what's wrong or right."
In the same vein, Laraleigh adds,
"The ability to see at a moment's notice what you've been paid for a code keeps revenue coming in at the correct rate. When we first opened, one payer wasn't paying at the correct rate. Because of our software, we were able to give that payer examples of claims very quickly, which rectified the problem."
These are just a few examples of the many ways this practice has found success since opening. Listening to Dr. Lavania, the key message that repeats is to let go of the fear of change, that change may have challenges but it is not a reason to remain stuck, and that when you challenge yourself to the growth that comes from walking into that change, success is the most likely outcome.
For more stories of how PCC has helped clients surpass their expectations, visit our Client Success Stories page.