In April 2016, Quorum Health spun out from one of the largest publicly traded hospital companies in the United States with 160 affiliated hospitals in 22 states, as an independent, publicly traded entity. At the time of formation, Quorum Health operated 38 hospitals across 16 states and primarily in rural locations. The new corporation focused on making each hospital essential in the community it served.
Establishing Quorum Health as a new entity involved defining itself and handling numerous facets, from large overarching legal and operational decisions down to more granular considerations, such as interfaces.
New processes had to be defined and contracts created. The previous organization had successfully used athenahealth as its EHR and revenue cycle vendor, and athenahealth showed itself to be a valuable vendor that was willing to work closely with both entities to see that they succeeded, said Edwin Corns, vice president of physician services at Quorum Health.
Quorum created a separate agreement along with securely and accurately transitioning its patient data, plus reestablishing key interfaces, so there would be continuity of care.
“We examined every aspect of Quorum Health to determine what systems and processes could be transitioned from the former entity and what should be built new,” Corns said. “Also, we identified areas for potential efficiencies to make this birth of an organization a successful one.”
The top priorities for Quorum Health were its patients and communities. With that as a guiding factor, Quorum Health developed a comprehensive migration plan that showed its true current state and offered a clear path to reach Point B.
“Executive leaders were identified and engaged among the former and new organizations along with athenahealth as a technology partner to help guide the journey and make it as seamless as a major reorganization can be,” Corns explained. “These leaders also worked together on creating the vision of the new company, establishing the foundation that would turn its vision into a reality.”
This was an opportunity to create the ideal organization from the ground up. To that end, the physician services’ revenue cycle was closely examined and areas for improvement were identified and addressed.
“Whenever data is transferred and systems untangled from each other, it is a daunting challenge with risk of something unforeseen happening that could impact care,” Corns said. “We really leaned on athenahealth to transfer systems into new contracts and standalone entities without losing data, especially those related to patient care.”
There are many vendors with electronic health records systems on the health IT market today. Some of these vendor include Allscripts, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, Greenway Health, HCS, Meditech and NextGen Healthcare.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Cloud IT vendor athenahealth implemented a new instance of its EHR and revenue cycle technology across Quorum Health, successfully migrating the required patient data and establishing key interfaces with other vendors, including MedHost, CareHarmony, Par80, MediMobile and Alpha II.
“The athenahealth team also worked with us to examine clinical workflows, making sure they supported care goals,” Corns said. “These included standardized templates and workflows around chronic care management and Medicare wellness visits. Providers were educated throughout the transition with their feedback helping guide next steps and minimize the potential for a negative impact on patient care. This included tips on how to use the EHR system better.”
There are three key factors, he added, that made establishing Quorum Health successful. First, taking the time to develop a comprehensive migration plan. Second, key executives from all sides calmly working together from a well-crafted roadmap to make this happen. Third, close collaboration with the athenahealth team as a technology vendor that was willing to put in the resources to ensure a positive outcome.
In addition to creating a sustainable new healthcare organization that serves the needs of many rural communities, Quorum Health has achieved several positive results, including a 33% savings during the first year alone through renegotiated technology contracts. $10 million in savings during 2018 from improved performance, $5 million of which was from the revenue cycle component, plus additional cash in bottom-line net revenue.
“There also has been increased network utilization by providers and communication to patients via text,” Corns said. “Quorum Health has increased utilization of Medicare Wellness, with 45% of patients receiving annual wellness visits, and that number is increasing and rolled out the Chronic Care Management program to 60,000 Medicare patients. Most important, this transition occurred with no disruption to patient care.”
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