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   RE: Emr /practice management
 From: Mamatha Agrawal
 To: Member Forum
 Posted: 11-19-2016 07:18

I used Athena for 3 years and when the MU dollars dried up they were changing platform, customer service was not good, billing processes were slow, they wrote things off, and they had some mandatory changes to workflow with document labeling, collections and forcing people to give a reason they did not invite to the portal! They took 6.5-8.5% of collections including charging $1 per prescription because they called it an "order". 

I went totally for the cheap solution - I switched to Practice Fusion EHR =  $60 per month to get the Updox fax solution, and NueMD =$204 per month for basic billing but there was a discount to $154 per month for this first year (a year ago). NueMD charges extra for many features but for eligibility, claims, automatic EOB posting it's all there and support and training was good. I took the absolute minimum. If you want to do phone appointment reminders, electronic statements, online payments it is extra through NueMD. I just put a paypal button on my website for online payments. 

The PF portal is not as good but it's functional.  PF has e-mail appointment reminders and that seems to work well enough but you must manually enter the appointments that you put in NueMD into Practice Fusion. This works for small practices but double entry of demographics and appointments can be frustrating for high volume, larger practices. There is also double entry for insurance when labs are ordered but all of this is typically done one time per patient. 

EHR is always a labor of love. I spent many hours doing chart transfers. Once I gave my 90 day notice to Athena, I immediately began using the 2 EHRs side by side to be able to easily do chart transfers and really focused on getting a good picture of the Athena A/R and getting it collected. Practice Fusion IMMEDIATELY transferred my demographics from Athena, e-prescribing, Lab interface was done in a couple days, fax interface set up overnight. NueMD also transferred insurance info and demographics from Athena but I had to make sure the data was in the format they wanted and that took a few weeks to get straightened out. 

Whatever the problems with PF, at least I can always tell myself it is free. You can pay for billing interfaces but I did not do so. 

I also looked at Kareo EHR, Elation and drchrono. Those all seemed like possibilities and all had trial version to play around with. I downloaded them all and played around with all of them. I almost went with Elation but they got into this long corporate process about implementation. However, that seemed like a good EHR --they did not have templates for office notes at the time I looked at them.  

When EHR first started, it used to be choice between "best of breed EHR only" or "integrated system with EHR + PM". I went back to the idea that one company cannot do everything and that I would look at EHRs which is what we need to be happy with daily as we see patients. 

Things I miss about Athena:  **How robust their medication history feature was. It always pulled in every prescription the patient had previously filled including vaccines from pharmacy. The PF version of this is not as good and must be done manually. However, as they changed platform, I don't know what they did with that feature at Athena. **family balances were visible, **integrated credit card payments (I bought the Groov payments machine as a replacement and it's worked fine), 

In the end, Athena gave us excellent pdfs of our charts. I am still able to copy and paste chart info into PF charts with those pdfs! I am able to see the patients' last heights, weights, vaccine records, last visits easily. There was actually a contact person for terminations and they handled that well. 

Mamatha Agrawal, MD
Family Doctor CaryNC
Cary, NC
Live in Raleigh, NC
Solo since 2012
Practice Fusion and NueMD
Original Message:
Sent: 11-18-2016 06:37
From: Margaret Coughlan
Subject: Emr /practice management

Hello all,

I have been using Athena for over 4 years. It is quite expensive but very comprehensive.  They do my billing and posting as well as patient portal, etc. However I have issues with customer support lately so in the market to switch vendors. Two questions,  anyone love their emr/pm program?  Second, anyone switch after several years, how hard is it? That is one of the issues with this whole thing, we almost get stuck to keep the same one due to inertia...

Margaret Coughlan MD
Millbrook, NY

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