University General Surgeons in Knoxville, Tenn., is a busy general surgery, acute, trauma and critical care specialty practice, affiliated with the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. Due to the chaotic and unexpected nature of not always knowing what care they’ll be providing that day, the team of nine surgeons, 10 extender staff (including nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and 17 staff members needs streamlined workflows and easily-managed communications systems to thrive. The practice has two locations, one located at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and an outpatient clinic that serves 40 patients a day. In total, the practice treats 7,000+ trauma patients and schedules more than 1,000 surgeries annually.
Updox Tops for Cost, Productivity and Compliance Criteria
When Marcy Hatch, CMPE, arrived in her role as practice administrator, she saw an opportunity to streamline operations via an efax solution. She had three key criteria for evaluating technology solutions – cost-efficiency, productivity enhancement and HIPAA compliance.
She compared options that were integrated with Intergy, the practice’s EHR and Updox rose to the top.
“Before Updox, it was common for staff members to have their own fax machine and scanner. That led to too much paper, too much expense and too much printing, scanning, filing and shredding. It made no sense and I knew Updox offered a much better way of working,” she said.
The practice started with electronic fax and soon added other Updox Patient Engagement solutions, including Reminders, Secure Text and Video Chat. Now, she estimates they’re saving more than $12,000 a year with Updox but the impact on patient and staff satisfaction has been invaluable.
“The dollar savings is great but that is outnumbered by workplace improvements Updox gives us. Staff are less stressed and just genuinely happier with their workday. At 3 p.m., we’re not looking at six hours of scanning. That’s gone. Our surgery scheduler saw the biggest benefit and became our strongest Updox advocate. We used to snail mail pre-op and post-op orders and instructions. You’d have to allow a few days for mail to process and hope it all arrives. Now, we securely text all that information out, in just a few clicks. Patients love it also. They have all they need on their phones, no papers to carry. They can just text us questions or updates. It’s so much easier and people actually respond to texts.”
Implementation began with the practice outlining their existing workflows, mapping out conversion points and determining who needs access to what documents. They identified super users and developed a small-group training schedule with Updox staff to fit the clinic schedule.
“Honestly, there was some push back at first. Change isn’t easy. But, once staff saw how much time it saved them, we got to the point where they love it and can’t work without Updox,” says Marcy. “With queues and tags, you can easily sort through and find certain items. We can print multiple documents into one outbound fax. Updox eliminates all the redundant work of printing, signing, scanning, filing and shredding. The audit trail is great. We have so much time back in our day.”
Video Chat Boosts Patient and Staff Satisfaction
The practice is also starting to use Video Chat. Due to the size of the hospital campus, a patient might have to reserve 2-3 hours for a simple 15-minute post-op appointment, taking into account the time to drive to the hospital, park, navigate to the office, complete the appointment and then get back to their car and drive home. Not to mention the staff time to greet patients, get them registered, escort to the room, etc. “When you consider telehealth, even if it’s not eligible for reimbursement, you have to think about the full cost for that visit. You don’t have to bill for everything you do. A post-op appointment is not something we’re going to bill for anyway,” says Marcy. “Video Chat just makes so much sense. Patients are happier. Staff is happier. It’s a win-win.”
“I think the best indicator of how much we all love Updox is when we run into another location that doesn’t use it. When the hospital sends over a packet of forms needing review and our doctors roll their eyes as they are signing – that’s when I know how much we appreciate Updox.”
Learn more about how Updox supports Health Systems