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Rhode Island Practice Earns National Award Using Clinically-Focused IT Strategy

Coastal Medical of Providence, R.I., has been named winner of the 2012 Ambulatory HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence, an honor given to a select group of practices able to demonstrate exemplary use of their electronic health record (EHR). According to chief operating officer (COO) Meryl Moss, it was a “care-first” strategy spearheaded by strong physician leadership that helped the practice achieve this prestigious recognition.

Coastal Medical has a large clinical quality leadership team that helps determine the practice’s EHR needs from a patient care perspective, and then recommends how IT can best support those needs. Their team is comprised of physicians, nurses, MAs, pharmacists, office managers, IT staff, the COO and more. They also have two full-time team members who are tasked with training all new staff members and providing updates to everyone through ongoing training.

“There is a lot of physician leadership driving the use of the electronic record at Coastal Medical. While our IT staff is very valuable, our physicians are also critical drivers of meeting clinical quality goals,” says Moss.

This same team helps determine how other technologies, such as a practice management system and clearinghouse, are best able to integrate with the EHR to achieve care quality goals with the help of automated benchmarking and reporting. Moss notes, for instance, that Coastal Medical’s clearinghouse integrates seamlessly with its integrated EHR/practice management solution. Their automated clearinghouse solution also helps them determine eligibility before a patient visit, which in turn helps them reduce costly rejections and denials, so they can increase productivity and profitability.

The three IT systems working together—combined with a team approach to billing—help keep average days in A/R at about 14, which as most practices know is no easy feat. Moss says one of the most critical things to remember when working with EHR or clearinghouse vendors is that they are a partner—not just a product provider. Developing a strong relationship with them can help improve workflow processes, implement new industry regulations or trouble-shoot any problems that might arise.

As practices search for ways to embrace the Triple Aim of higher care quality and patient satisfaction at lower costs, they need to begin thinking about processes and technology in brand-new ways, adds Moss. “Technology and relationships: both are necessary to succeed.”

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