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   RE: Emr /practice management
 From: John Brady
 To: Member Forum
 Posted: 11-25-2016 15:31

Hi Margaret,

I was on e-MDs for 13 years and switched to Athena in March of this year because I joined in with a horizontally integrated network which highly encouraged the change. The change has been awful. The workload involved in changing systems is IMMENSE. Even if the demographic info gets pulled over, every patient is essentially a new patient in terms of having to put in the current medical problems, FH, SH, Allergies, and potentially even Meds (Surescripts through Athena automatically loads that which is nice). That does not even include the downloading of the old information off my server and then uploading it into Athena as a pdf (which is nice to have but not nice to try and search through). Suffice it to say it will take at least a year for you to get back up to full speed when you change over. In regards to which EHR I like the best, e-MDs is really quite intuitive and nice to use but, at least as of early this year, its portal was horrible. Athena is bloated and slow and I believe far more difficult to document in. However, it has a nice portal and the fax server seems to work nearly flawlessly--which is nice. I am changing over to the "streamlined" version of Athena in the next month, so some things might be better, but I am guessing that some things will be worse as well. 

One other comment. I would disagree with Jean that "no doctor should do their own billing." I did mine until I changed over to Athena. Here is the way I would think about it. With automation and clearinghouses and Previsit checking of insurance eligibility, about 97% of your claims should go through without issue. The real issue is the amount of time it takes to post the claims and send out statements (and much of that can be mitigated by keeping a credit card on file). In my experience, it would take me about 50 minutes/week to package up the claims and send them to a clearinghouse (10 minutes/day). That time would be nearly the same if you are sending the claims to a billing company so I am not certain there is any way to save there. BUT, at least in my experience with e-mds and gateway edi, it would only take about 1 hour/week to post the EOBs and send out the statements. So doing the billing and collections is really about a 1-2 hour/week job. To pay someone 6% of ALL collections for 1-2 hours/week seems nuts to me. I mean if you collect $200,000 and pay 6%, you would owe the biller $12,000 = around $160/hr based of 75 hours of work/year which is more than I make. Personally, I would set up everything to be as automated as possible and try and find someone to upload the EOBs into the billing system and send out statements to the patients for $15/hour. They can even track down the denied claims--though, unless you are using codes you do not normally use, my experience is the claim is more likely to be paid if you send a patient a note and have them call. 

I hope this is helpful and I wish you the best in your transitions!


John Brady
The Village Doctor
Newport News VA
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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