EHR for RHCs: How the right technology can transform Rural Health Clinics

If you are reading this blog, then by no means are you a stranger to the challenges Rural Health Clinics face comparatively to their urban counterparts. You might be a part of a Rural Health Clinic yourself, and know the unique challenges well- financial instability, geographical challenges and lots of regulatory red tape, to name a few. These are all barriers to care that hinder patient care and provider profitability.  

In this digital landscape, technology can be utilized to improve business across all aspects of its operations and goals. For a medical practice, this means using any technology or tech-enabled solution to improve a process that may currently be done manually or even introducing a new process to the practice that may not have been able to have been done before to achieve a new business goal. For example, using electronic health record software instead of paper charts can help streamline a process. Healthcare practices can use data and analytics, or even artificial intelligence, to assess their practice’s performance and help make strategic decisions. The right technology can simplify an RHC’s processes, keep compliance, and facilitate higher revenue.  

Top 5 Ways an EHR can Support an RHC

1. Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

Everyday tasks should be made easier with your system. No system is perfect, but if your EHR is not taking some burdens off of its providers- it’s not good enough. The EHR application should be seamless- the technology should be so easy to use, almost invisible, so that patients can be the focus and allow for providers to be more present. It’s not just the patients that suffer due to bad technological outcomes, it’s the physicians who are burnt out charting during ‘pajama hours’. Complex workflows and charting means less time to take a much needed break to effectively deliver care.

2. Applications for Patient Engagement

Patients in rural areas are separated from care, literally. Because of this, and many other factors, patients miss important yearly and follow up exams- allowing for prolonged health conditions and the worsening of comorbidity. Patient engagement applications like patient portals, telehealth, and easy to use patient billing are must haves. 

3. Ease of Billing

High numbers of denials, rejected claims, and declining reimbursements make getting money back into the clinic difficult and clogs processes and operations. With unique billing encounters, and a lack of access to billing codes- having software that can rise to the challenge of splitting claims is a big plus. 

4. Strong Support

Offshore support is unfortunately very common these days. These support teams are not as familiar with your specific needs, are harder to get in contact with, and lack the necessary knowledge to address rural needs and questions. When buying a new EHR, you aren’t just getting new software, you are entering into a new partnership- and what is a partnership after all, without a strong support base? 

5. Compliance and Regulatory Assistance

Across healthcare, in general, the struggle to be compliant with CMS standards and additional regulatory requirements is a constant challenge. For RHCs, having data documented properly, accounted for, and abstracted easily is key to for regulatory compliance. 

The Complete Guide To Selecting An EHR Vendor

The EHR vendor selection process is no small task. An EHR system is a significant expense and most EHR vendors have a long onboarding and data migration process that could interrupt your day-to-day workflow. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that your business and patients are depending on a reliable, user-friendly system with accurate data.These are 7 important steps when choosing an EHR vendor, we examine each in this article

How Azalea Supports Rural Health Clinics

"Azalea Health is geared toward rural health clinics, and that is a big help. I have worked with other companies in other practices, and I am not so sure that they would be able to address the unique rural health issues as well as Azalea Health does." - CEO of an RHC

We at Azalea Health use technology to pursue care without barriers. Our team has witnessed how care providers struggled using the electronic healthcare record systems they were forced to use—because EHRs were built to minimize risk and meet legislative needs, not to make their critical jobs any easier. Azalea started in rural Georgia and recognized an opportunity to help the providers closest to us- to this day, though we have grown, we still make it our mission to help underserved providers improve patient care and profitability.

  • Strong PM and RCM services
    Azalea RCM has Certified Rural Health Coding & Billing Specialists (RH-CBS) on staff, who have gone through extensive training and have years of institutional knowledge. Our software can accommodate all required billing functionality for RHCs like split claim billing and both UB04 and HCFA-1500 claim formats. Additionally, our billing reports can be conveniently, and automatically pulled to be used for quick and accuracte cost reporting.
  • Ease of Use
    In a recent ease of use and return on investment study, completed by a leading research company, Hobson & Co, they interviewed multiple RHC clients of Azalea. Here are some interesting ease of use stats that they found:
      • 30% time reduction in time spent charting
      • 50 % time reduction in time spent managing billing (75% if they also had our RCM services)
      • 10% reduction of days in A/R and reduced number of denials
      • 25% time reduction in registering patients
  • Analytics
    Our VP of Analytics loves to say “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. We are passionate about performance management and data analytics. Our software, Azalea Analytics, is fully integrated into our EHR and RCM solutions. Turnkey analytics and customizable dashboards can provide insight for any function within your health clinic. We don’t just provide insight, it’s actionable insight that can save your RHC money, help you work towards strategic goals, and even manage crucial areas like population health management.
  • Patient Engagement 
    Accessibility, convenience, and well integrated systems are key for effective patient engagement solutions. Our patient portal and telemedicine services allow for quality one-on-one patient communication. Our patient and physician portal provides an efficient outlet for patients to receive access to billing and medical history, while keeping their data secure. Patients can access this portal from anywhere on the web from their mobile devices.
  • Rural Expertise
    Azalea was founded in rural Georgia in 2008 and many of our employees still live and work in rural Valdosta and see the challenges of clinics first hand. Our mission since 2008, has always been to serve rural providers and enable them to better serve themselves, and their patients with simplified EHR software. Additionally, Azalea has hired in-house experts like Helen Williams, who has over 50 years of experience in rural healthcare. Not only are they consultants, but true sources of truth and insights into rural complexities. Azalea strives for software and solutions that are continually evolving along with the rural healthcare environment.

22 Tips & Tricks to Increase Practice Reimbursements

Ask yourself: Are we consistently collecting patient co-pays? Are our patients paying on time? Are more than 4% of our claims being rejected? Do we have a monthly period close process? If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, this list is for you! Learn quick and easy ways to enhance your collection process and increase practice reimbursements