As one of the largest independently owned primary care groups in Central Kentucky, Family Practice Associates of Lexington has been a leader care delivery and practice management for many years. The practice, consisting of 9 physicians 2 mid-level providers, and one licensed family therapist, was an early adopter electronic health records—implementing these information systems more than a decade before most of its peers. Family Practice Associates’ expertise and willingness to embrace technological change has allowed it to become one of the only Level II Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) in Lexington, Kentucky.
During its internal PCMH assessment, Family Practice Associates identified a weakness in the manner in which after hours patient care requests were managed. PCMH guidelines were very specific with respect to the documentation of after-hours calls, and the requirements for providers to respond in a timely manner to care requests. To improve their processes and procedures for the management of after-hours calls, Family Practice Associates sought alternatives to the traditional answering service.
At A Glance
- Family Practice Associates of Lexington
- One of the largest independently owned primary care groups in Central Kentucky
- 9 physicians, 2 mid-levels, 1 licensed family therapist
- PCMH Level II designation
- The local answering service was expensive and did not satisfy PCMH requirements
- On Call Central automated call management system directly connects patients to physicians in private, secure phone consultations
- On call physicians can respond to notifications from their personal phone without displaying that personal number
- Comprehensive recordings and documentation trail exceeds PCMH guidelines
- Customer support exceeds other medical technology vendors
- Implementation was fast and painless
Family Practice Associates’ patients were for years directed to the local answering service. The answering service used software developed decades prior, lacked modern documentation standards, and provided no permanent record of a provider’s response to patient requests. The practice’s management team recognized the documentation shortfall and began investigating ways by which to to improve the documentation of after hours care requests. Shannon Riddell, Family Practice Associates’ Clinical Manager, said, “Before On Call Central there was very little documentation of after hours patient care requests, no documentation of notifications the answering service sent our physicians, and little or no record of the actual physician phone interaction with the patient.” Furthermore, when messages were left for physicians, providers sometimes waited on hold to retrieve details of the message that had been left for them. Providers were wasting time, responding inefficiently, and paying too much for a service that did not meet PCMH requirements.
On Call Central is a secure, automated call management system that utilizes web-based technologies to directly connect patients and physicians in private, secure phone consultations. On Call Central’s ability to deliver fast, secure results comes from its innovative core features. Callers are first presented with a customized interactive voice response (IVR) menu that plays a recorded greeting. This brief menu filters non-urgent calls at the point of first contact. The menu separates urgent issues from those that can be handled the following business day. For urgent requests, On Call Central notifies the on call physician when a message is pending on the system.
Once a message is received, a notification protocol is executed until the on call provider has listened to the message. Following message delivery, providers have the option of pressing a single button to return the patient’s call. Since the return call is placed through the On Call Central servers, the physician’s caller ID is masked, the call is recorded, and the recording is permanently archived on On Call Central’s secure servers. Furthermore, since the patient is notified that the call is being recorded, the practice automatically satisfies the requirements of Federal and state wiretapping laws. The practice management team at Family Practice Associates noticed an immediate difference. Physicians were responding to patients more quickly than through the local answering service. The entirety of the phone interaction was permanently recorded and securely archived. Practice managers were able to quickly and easily document physician response times, thereby meeting PCMH guidelines.
The physicians and staff at Family Practice Associates of Lexington are very satisfied with the time savings, cost savings, and automated documentation On Call Central has provided their practice. However, these benefits were not the only advantages observed.
Simplicity. On Call Central’s intuitive user interface made it easy for the practice management team to quickly configure the call schedule, and allow providers to receive notifications of messages according to their personal preferences. The On Call Central system eliminated several steps that were previously required with the local answering service, and significantly sped up the process of meeting patient care requests.
- Cost Effective. On Call Central saved Family Practice Associates approximately 20% relative to the local answering service. The flat rate pricing structure eliminated nuisance fees such as long distance charges, charges for text messaging, call patching, and charges for service on holidays or non-standard business hours.
- Privacy. Unlike the local answering service, On Call Central automatically blocked the providers’ home or mobile phone number, thereby protecting their private information. Providers simply returned the call through the On Call Central phone interface, and their information was automatically protected from public view.
- Support. Family Practice Associates has described On Call Central’s support as significantly better than almost any other IT vendor with which they have dealt. The practice managers have joined On Call Central’s client advisory board, and provide feedback that helps to incrementally improve the product over time.
- Easy Setup. Even for a large practice, the setup process for On Call Central was rapid. With just one on-site visit, and a couple of phone calls, Family Practice Associates was up and running in less than one week.
- PCMH Recognition. Family Practice Associates achieved Level II PCMH recognition on its first assessment. On Call Central helped the practice surpass the phone documentation requirements specified in the PCMH standards.
- Improved Reimbursements. Successfully completing the PCMH review allowed Family Practice Associates to negotiate more favorable reimbursements with leading payers, driving a strong ROI on their On Call Central investment.