Meet Dr. Sloan, long-time physician and long-time STI client:
History with STI Computer Services
Sloan Robinson MD, a long-time physician at Meetinghouse Family Physicians, a small practice located in Marlton, NJ, has been a customer of STI Computer Services since 1992. Initially Dr. Sloan, as he likes to be called, and the other physicians at Meetinghouse Family Physicians were looking for a medical billing system to electronically transmit insurance claims, primarily to Medicare. They chose STI’s Practice Management system.
About five years ago, they realized that the medical landscape had changed significantly, requiring the use of more sophisticated technology to continue to efficiently provide the highest quality of healthcare to their patients. Recognizing they lacked the technical savvy to achieve this on their own, they needed a strong partner like STI who had gained their confidence and that offered the expertise, services, and customer support their small practice needed. In 2010, they purchased ChartMaker® Clinical and began the process of getting the EMR in their office up and running and the staff fully trained, which eventually prepared them for Meaningful Use.
As a small practice, they also needed IT help in the development and customization of the EMR to fit their practice style. “These days it’s too difficult to do everything all on your own,” Dr. Sloan says. Within two years, their office had transitioned from an outdated method of providing healthcare, to a fully computerized and integrated method of care, that combines technological sophistication with a personal touch. Dr. Sloan admits this transition could have been quicker, “but our technical inexperience and the fact that we were so far behind everyone else held us up.”
When the trainers brought in the EMR system to be installed, it was a difficult time for STI and Meetinghouse. The other two physicians were more knowledgeable with computers, but Dr. Sloan didn’t even know how to turn on the laptop and was just lost – but STI helped him. According to Dr. Sloan, , ‘if Dr. Sloan can do it, anybody can do it!’
Favorite Solution: Patient Portal
One of Dr. Sloan’s favorite solutions that STI provides is the ChartMaker® PatientPortal. The patient portal is an online service that allows a patient, or patient representative, to keep track of their personal medical information; while also allowing practices to share and receive information easily with patients.
“The ChartMaker® PatientPortal is wonderful!” exclaims Dr. Sloan. “The patient portal has reduced the number of phone calls we receive by 85%.” Meetinghouse currently has over 4,000 patients using their patient portal, allowing Dr. Sloan and the other physicians to provide and maintain more immediate, informed care, as well as to easily answer any patient inquiries. “This has really brought the doctor and the patient closer, allowing a shared relationship in healthcare to emerge.”
Getting Ready for Telemedicine
The future of medicine is intertwined with telemedicine, because Millennials want to do everything on their smart phone. Allowing patients to use their smartphone allows them to visit with their doctor virtually.
An increasing need for efficient access to healthcare led Meetinghouse to implement a Telemedicine solution at the practice. Dr. Sloan turned to STI for help, and Al Toper, the Director of Technical Services responded by coming out to the office himself to set up the hardware technology they would need to succeed with telemedicine.
“To have Al come all the way out to our office on a Friday afternoon to ensure that we were set up for success in this technological endeavor is truly something special. But these are the types of things that have happened over the years. Whenever we face a difficulty or complication in providing care, it’s great to know that we can turn to STI and we will be able to overcome whatever obstacle we face.”
The Future of Healthcare
Dr. Sloan sees the future of healthcare as being broken down into two types of service: Primary Care and Chronic Care Management. He sees primary care as encompassing the typical sick visit or an urgent need, where the patient does not have any persistent medical issues, and therefore does not need sophisticated technology, but still needs to be taken care of in a case by case capacity. On the other hand, those patients that do have persistent health issues would fall under Chronic Care Management rubric. And it is for these patients with chronic health issues that programs like MIPS, CPC+, and Meaningful Use were developed.
“In the past a doctor’s visit was typically having the patient going to the doctor’s office, report to the front desk, see the doctor, pay the bill and leave,” Dr. Sloan explains. “But today we have to become more engaged with patients to ensure that they are receiving the care they need. We must be sure they attend their appointments, get their test results, and have their questions answered. This requires a sophisticated process to be in place.”
The patient is now the center of attention. While this renewed focus on the patient through technology requires doctors and staff to spend additional time on the computer to record patient activity and progress, to send reminders and answer patient inquiries, Dr. Sloan feels the rewards, such as fewer human errors when prescribing medications, are worth it.
Most patients want their doctor to have an EMR, but one EMR does not fit every doctor and every practice. According to Dr. Sloan, “STI helped us configure the EMR to meet the needs of the practice and also the individual physicians. Doctors need to believe in these rewards. We can improve our patient’s lives, while also cutting costs. And the patients see this and not only become more engaged, but are now a partner in their healthcare.”
Over the past couple of years, Meetinghouse Family Physicians has achieved many healthcare goals, as well as receiving various certifications. They have been certified with NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance), and have earned NCQA PCMH Recognition — an honor given to only one in six primary care physicians in America that practices in an NCQA-Recognized practice. Likewise, they have completed Meaningful Use, and participated in the pilot program CPCI, which became CPC2+ in 2017 where Meetinghouse is in Track 2. And through all these accomplishments, STI’s Professional Services resources has been there to assist them.
STI provided the man power and services to allow Meetinghouse to implement these programs. Without STI’s individual assistance none of this would have been possible. “Three cheers for STI, who have helped us as a practice improve our relationships with our patients, insurance companies and government agencies,” say Dr. Sloan. “STI has helped us to achieve each of these certifications and awards. Without being able to lean on STI’s expertise and support we would not have been able to achieve these honors. For a small practice like ours, I can’t tell you how invaluable STI is to us.”
Dr. Sloan has talked to other comparable CPC+ practices, and discovered that many of the practices have transitioned to a second, or even third, EMR company. He attributes this turnover to poor service and lack of customer support from those EMR companies. In contrast, the staff at Meetinghouse has freely interacted with just about every employee, in every department, at STI, bolstering their long-lasting relationship.