Success Story: Listening, Caring and Healing with Kareo

Cecilia Berumen, APRN-FPA, founded Our Medical Center with two simple goals. First, she wanted to create an empathetic clinical environment that would improve outcomes for mental health patients. Second, she wanted to enhance the quality of life for both patients and providers.Her first step was hiring Ronald Trinidad as administrator, tasking him with launching her practice. And his first step was to put a system in place to automate as much as possible. “We selected a well-known EMR, and quickly grew frustrated,” he says. “They didn’t answer their phones. I could never get hold of anyone when I needed help. Once I waited on hold for 40 minutes. I knew that once we ramped up our volume we’d be in deep trouble.”

Trinidad then checked out Kareo. “Not only did Kareo answer their phones, but they delivered everything we needed, and more. They even called and offered me a dedicated coach for 60 days, to help me get more out of their program. I could call the coach any time I wanted. Kareo’s service was over the top,” Trinidad said.

Challenge: Responsive to Requests
Trinidad notes that he implemented all of the Kareo coach’s suggestions. And to his surprise, Kareo also implemented many of his own requests. “We wanted to avoid paper faxes and eliminate manual intake, which Kareo couldn’t help us with at the time," he says. "But shortly after I mentioned it, they started offering a short form with basic intake information. Then they added electronic uploading, and more complete intake data. We asked them to include additional forms for things like credit card authorization, controlled substance releases and office policy handouts, and they did them all. It has been amazing.”

Solution: Empowering Patients
Patients book their own appointments online, and complete intake forms before they arrive. They can also complete consent, medical
history, credit card, ADHD NICHQ and telehealth authorization forms online.

"Our patients can use their home computers or mobile phones to upload data to Kareo. If they are not tech savvy or don’t have a computer, they can use a Kareo kiosk in our office,” says Trinidad.

Solution: End-to-End Automation
Behind the scenes, Trinidad notes that the Kareo system verifies insurance, helps check in patients, tracks whether a patient is roomed, records vitals, and performs all billing functions. “Kareo has a box you can click on to check all forms of insurance eligibility," he says. "I do this in the evening, so we’re ready for the next day’s visits. I just have to review the cases that pop up as not covered. This really frees up time I would otherwise spend on the phone with insurance companies.”

He also appreciates Kareo’s billing capabilities. “We don’t have to mail invoices. Everything is electronic. Patients pay online through a portal, at a time that’s convenient for them. This makes their visit more comfortable, as they don’t have to worry about financial details. I can customize Kareo to email bills whenever I like. I’d estimate that e-billing saves at least an hour a day.” Gone are the days of handwritten scripts at Our Medical Center. Instead, all prescriptions are electronic. “When we signed up for Kareo, we couldn’t do e-meds for controlled substances, which can be significant for a mental health practice like ours. So, we were really happy when Kareo released this feature," says Trinidad. Because of Kareo’s efficiencies, Trinidad says that he has been able to manage both front- and back-end office duties singlehandedly, even as the practice has grown to 2,000 patients. Only now that they are
surpassing 6,200 encounters a year, have they needed to hire a front-office manager.

Solution: Easier Documentation
Electronic practice notes have been a key time saver for Our Medical Center. “Most providers go home and spend three or four hours every night documenting their patient sessions. It’s the most frustrating part of their job,” Trinidad explains. “Kareo lets a provider copy previous notes, repopulate fields, and make edits for the current session. This saves at least 20 minutes per patient. With a case load of 14 patients a day, it means a provider can have a personal life after hours again.”

Solution: Engage
Our Medical Center uses Kareo Engage to communicate with patients via text or email. “Think about the time you waste trying to reach someone by telephone," Trinidad explains. “Nobody answers phones anymore. You leave messages and often don’t get a call back or you miss the callback, which wastes time. But when I send a text through Kareo, it’s seen right away," Trinidad continued. Patients can respond at their leisure. What’s more, I can create templates to reuse our most frequent texts, like to confirm appointments, reschedule, send prescription reminders or do mass notifications. I can send the same text to many patients, and it looks
like they’re unique messages. What a beautiful concept – one that cuts several hours a day from my workload!”

Result: Telehealth
The practice makes frequent use of Kareo’s telehealth features. “Telehealth is huge for us in mental health, because life happens. Anxiety builds up. Even changes in the weather can affect people adversely. Our biggest concern is with patients adhering to their plan. With Kareo’s telehealth, there’s no excuse for them not to contact
us. We can easily switch to videoconferencing," notes Trinidad.

Conclusion: Instant Web Presence
Our Medical Center’s speedy growth has been mostly powered by positive internet reviews. “Most people look at online recommendations before selecting any type of service these days, says Trinidad. "But it can be a hassle to establish yourself. We’re thankful to Kareo, who sent our provider information to all the important websites. I didn’t have to do individual listings. We therefore had an immediate web presence, with no work on our end.

”Our patients have found it easy to leave organic reviews and share how they’ve felt about our services," he continues. "They even comment on little things like the unique lavender smell of our office, and the way it feels like a spa instead of a clinic. As a result, our provider now has an amazing five-star rating on several sites including HealthGrades, Google and Kareo. Of course, this drives more business to us."

In fact, after just one year after starting Our Medical Center, the practice continues to grow and new patients have to wait two months for an appointment. The practice is hiring more providers as a result.

About the Author

Alesa Lightbourne is a prize-winning author, professor and former dean of an international business school. As a freelance writer, her clients have included Fortune...

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