Busy clinic needed expert guidance to better utilize its existing technology.
• Increased efficiency
• Stronger data security
• Reduced costs
• Enhanced system utilization
• Improved patient communications
Abilene Eye Institute and Cataract and Refractive Surgery Center (AEI) has provided state-of-the-art surgical procedures and LASIK technology to Abilene, TX and its surrounding areas for over 30 years. Christy Talamantes started working at AEI as a surgical and ophthalmic tech in 2002, and transitioned into the Practice Manager role in 2015.
AEI implemented NextGen’s Electronic Practice Management (EPM) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) solutions in 2005. When Christy became Practice Manager, the clinic was considering moving to another EPM/EHR. They faced multiple challenges including hardware issues, constant equipment upgrades and lack of staff knowledge about how to use the technology. “It seemed like we were working too hard and spending too much money, but were still always struggling,” said Christy. “I knew we could improve but didn’t know how to do it.”
Moving to a new system was cost-prohibitive. Christy decided to work with a third party to help the clinic be more successful with its existing technology. “I’m not an IT person and I didn’t have a strong NextGen background,” she notes. “I knew companies were out there that could help us and convinced our management team that it was in our best interest to partner with a technology expert.”
Responsive, one-stop shop
Christy researched multiple options online and talked with other practices to identify companies who could meet AEI’s needs. She ultimately selected ITelagen because of its strong references, responsiveness and end-to-end suite of services. “ITelagen called me right back, and really stood out as a one-stop shop for hosting, software support and IT support. Most of the other companies didn’t do all three,” she adds. “I thought it would be easiest to have one company handling everything for us instead of scattering it among different vendors.”
ITelagen provides multiple services to AEI including EPM/EHR hosting, white glove support, EHR optimization and training, as well as revenue cycle automation. The partnership delivered positive results to Christy and her staff from day one. “Being able to tap into ITelagen’s expertise has helped us so much, even the very first phone call we had was like a godsend,” says Christy. “Before, we just didn’t have enough internal knowledge or training and we’d get tossed around to different support teams without issues getting resolved. Today, we call ITelagen and things are fixed right away. I can’t believe how easy it is for us now.”
Strong rapport and teamwork
AEI and ITelagen have developed a close working relationship. “We’ve built a rapport and it’s really like ITelagen is a part of our team,” says Christy. “It’s great hearing someone’s voice on the other end of the phone, and knowing exactly who they are and that they are capable of handling an issue. I never had that level of familiarity with the big software vendors that I worked with before.”
Accountability is another important factor in the partnership. “I always know ITelagen is going to take care of business for us,” says Christy. “Their techs have stayed up very late nights with us when we had a major problem, and not stopped until it was resolved. We haven’t seen that with other support companies, especially the smaller local guys who sometimes run out of options before an issue is fixed.”
Greater speed, savings and security in the cloud
Prior to working with ITelagen, AEI’s technology was housed onsite. It was costly and time-consuming for the clinic to maintain its servers, stay current on technology and protect against escalating data security risks. Today, ITelagen hosts AEI’s EPM/EHR and back-up servers in its fully HIPAA-compliant, state-of-the-art, 100% US-based data centers which offer 99.999% (“five nines”) uptime and 24/7 monitoring.
The cloud hosting model delivers many benefits to AEI, including:
• Speed: the clinic’s computers run faster because the in-house servers aren’t bogged down with duplicate information. This enables the staff to be more productive and efficient.
• Savings: since moving the ITelagen cloud, AEI has downsized from four to two servers onsite, which saves money as well as space that can be reallocated to higher-value activities.
• Security: patient data is fully protected and HIPAA compliant. In the event of a natural disaster, the practice can access its data and get back up and running quickly.
“Using ITelagen for hosting has taken a lot of responsibility off us for things that we’re not experts at, like HIPAA,” says Christy. “I know their virus scans and security are much better than anything we could do in-house. They’ve also taught me a lot about our technology infrastructure, so the office is more self-sufficient because I can troubleshoot much better than previously.”
Support drives productivity and ROI
ITelagen ensures that AEI runs at peak levels by providing white glove level support for its technology infrastructure and NextGen solutions, including upgrades. ITelagen’s support team is a single point of accountability to quickly address issues, with 80% of inquiries resolved on the first call and a 97% average user satisfaction. “We worked with a local IT person before, but he wasn’t always able to help us, even with basic things like upgrades,” says Christy. “There’s always someone at ITelagen who knows how to do what we need to get done.”
In addition to providing day-to-day support that keeps AEI staff productive, ITelagen has been instrumental in helping the clinic maximize ROI on its equipment. For example, ITelagen recently advised AEI on which replacement scanner to purchase for maximum compatibility, including HIPAA compliance and security considerations. ITelagen also helped AEI develop a beneficial networked printer strategy. “ITelagen has been very helpful in showing us how to be smarter about replacing equipment,” notes Christy. “Instead of having 12 printers, we now have four that run more efficiently and save money on things like toner.”
Optimizing system utilization
When Christy became Practice Manager, a few key staff members had recently left the billing department and the new team lacked knowledge about how to use the systems. ITelagen performed an assessment and worked with the clinic to optimize system settings and improve the billing workflow, which has saved time and money. ITelagen also trained the new staff so that they were more comfortable using the technology. “We knew the technology could work, but we just didn’t know how to make it work,” says Christy. “ITelagen helps us get more out the system and improve staff confidence using it.”
In addition to optimizing billing workflow, ITelagen has helped AEI streamline internal communication by linking the surgery center and satellite offices. “Now the surgery center can see charts from other practices, which they couldn’t do before,” says Christy. “This gives everyone faster, easier access to information which improves the staff and patient experience.”
Accurate patient communications
AEI had a manual process for patient billing, which often led to incorrect or missing statements and questions from frustrated patients. Because there was no way to easily run an outstanding A/R report, it was difficult to assess the clinic’s outstanding balances with a high degree of confidence. ITelagen helps customers take a proactive approach to revenue cycle management, leveraging technology and automation to ensure clean claims, streamlined communications and accelerated reimbursement.
ITelagen recently automated AEI’s patient statements, which has improved accuracy and uncovered lost charges that the practice wasn’t billing for previously. According to Christy “Since ITelagen automated these important patient communications, some patients have commented that it’s the first time they’ve received a bill from us. We are already seeing increased cash flow and an overall healthier revenue cycle which will lead to greater long-term success for our practice.”