Key Takeaways from the AAOE 2019 Annual Conference

June 17, 2019

Each year, the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives (AAOE) hosts a conference to discuss new developments in the orthopaedics industry, give attendees a chance to network with solution providers, and gather resources to help them improve the business aspect of their orthopaedic clinics.

The AAOE 2019 annual conference was the biggest event yet for the organization—marking the 50th such conference hosted by AAOE. Where the AAOS conference focuses on orthopaedic surgeons, the AAOE conference instead focuses on administrators and business management.

Phoenix Ortho attended this orthopaedic conference alongside Cheyenne Brinson from KarenZupko & Associates (KZA). Just in case you couldn’t make the AAOE 2019 annual conference, here are a few highlights:

Consolidation/Integration is a Key Focus for Orthopaedic Executives

Managers of orthopaedic clinics continue to seek ways to simplify processes, save time, and reduce labor. Consolidation and integration of their practice management tools is one option many orthopaedic executives have expressed interest in—but has proven to be frustratingly elusive.

For example, while many Practice Management and Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools claim to integrate fully with picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), they merely interface with a third party solution using an HL7 programming interface instead. Because HL7 technology wasn't really designed for this; it's clunky, time consuming, and inefficient. With very few exceptions, the x-ray technician still has to manually type in the image (X-ray, MRI, ultrasound, etc.) order at the imaging console (modality). This data entry typically requires the tech to manually enter the patient’s name, an eight- or ten-character patient ID number, the name of the physician ordering the study, and the actual study itself (e.g. 3 views of the knee, weight-bearing). . When mistakes occur, the clinic’s workflows come to a screeching halt.

Phoenix Ortho’s integrated imaging workflow doesn’t use HL7 technology. Since these images are in DICOM format, we use a DICOM Worklist Server (the same technology used by hospitals and large imaging centers) to order diagnostic imaging such as x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, etc. One click in the Phoenix Ortho EHR sends the order to the imaging console. Because the patient name, patient ID number, physician name, and study type are all already in the system, there’s no need for manual data entry that can suffer from human error.

Finding an EHR | PACS | PM solution that is truly integrated can help orthopaedic practices reduce labor expenses by improving efficiency and avoiding downtime from clunky and outdated interfaces. For example, Phoenix Ortho’s platform integrates:

  • Machine Learning. The software is able to “learn” the preferences of each user, streamlining charting input to save orthopaedic surgeons/doctors time on paperwork by putting frequently-used items first.
  • Image Ordering/Management. The integrated PACS solution is part of the platform, not a separate third party interface. It’s designed to eliminate errors in the image ordering process, saving time and labor.
  • Real Time Charge Capture. The Phoenix Ortho software captures procedure codes in real time as the orthopaedic surgeon and staff chart the encounter, eliminating the need for a paper fee ticket.
  • Evaluation and Management Coding. PO also has an evaluation and management (E & M) coding engine that analyzes data points in the charting and suggests, based on AAOS guidelines, a visit-level E & M billing code. When the visit is over, these charges (E & M, procedures) are electronically submitted to PO's integrated PM, eliminating not only the paper fee ticket, but also the manual entry of these charges in the PM. This helps minimize the risk of errors in assigning billing codes for orthopaedic visits.
  • Simplified eFax Management. The built-in iPHax AI system helps to cut time and labor spent on fax management by up to 75% for many orthopaedic practices. The system is simple enough to facilitate ease of management, but robust enough to meet even California’s notoriously stringent Workers’ Compensation case requirements.

AAOE Conference Attendees Extremely Interested in DME Inventory Solutions

Durable medical equipment (DME) inventory management is crucial for many orthopaedic practices. However, not many EHRs are optimized for tracking current DME inventory levels and facilitating ordering. This leads to many orthopaedic practices acquiring a separate DME inventory management software to track their durable medical equipment supplies. This, in turn, adds a layer of complexity to their orthopaedic practice that consumes more time and labor for paperwork (and for dealing with yet another software vendor).

Many conference attendees were surprised to learn that Phoenix Ortho’s solution has built-in DME inventory tracking and order alert systems. If an orthopaedic surgeon or physician prescribes a piece of durable medical equipment, the patient is sent to a room with the practice’s DME specialist who fits it for the patient and documents the transaction in the software. The equipment can be entered into the inventory by part number and/or manufacturer for ease of management.

Additionally, when the clinic’s DME inventory runs low, the Phoenix Ortho software generates an alert to whomever is in charge of ordering. The inventory level at which this alert triggers can be customized as needed. For example, an orthopaedic clinic that prescribes certain equipment infrequently might set the alert to trigger once they have fewer than four or five pieces left of a given type of DME. Meanwhile, a busy clinic might trigger the alert once they have 10 of a particular type of DME available.

DME inventory tracking helps orthopaedic clinics avoid running out of important equipment when their patients need it. It also prevents over-ordering less frequently-used equipment.

Curious about how your orthopaedic practice could save time, money, and frustration? Reach out to Phoenix Ortho today!


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