Case Study: Bay Urology Manages 30,000+ Patients With CareCloud CentralNovember 5, 2013 by Victoria Garment
With nearly 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Sheila Stokley has just about seen and done it all. The practice administrator for Bay Urology Services, Stokley worked her way up through the ranks to her current position, amassing 15 years of healthcare management experience along the way.
Though she has spent the past 11 years in urology—where her true passion lies—Stokley has worked in numerous other specialties, including home health, internal medicine and outpatient surgery.
“I decided a long time ago that if I was going to be in top management, I needed to know different aspects of different specialties,” she explains.
Stokley credits her multi-specialty experience and ground-up career path with making her a better administrator.
“I learned a lot about billing and administrative work from the bottom up,” she says. “Now I know exactly what everybody is going through and how they feel because I’ve actually gone and done that same work.”
Located in the city of Mobile, AL, Bay Urology has 14 staff members in addition to Stokley: five nurses, two doctors, two physician’s assistants and five clerical employees. Most of the employees have worked together for the past eight or so years, making them a close-knit group.
While Bay Urology is considered a small practice, their patient census is anything but. One of the many specialty practices in the same complex as Providence Hospital, which receives approximately 160,000 outpatient and emergency room registrations per year, Bay Urology sees many of the hospital’s patients. As a result, there are a whopping 30,000 patients listed in their database.
Bay Urology holds two patient clinics daily: the first from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and the second from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Approximately 100 patients are seen in each, so it’s not unusual for the practice to see over 200 patients per day. In order to effectively handle this capacity, Bay Urology requires a high-functioning, easy-to-use practice management system.
Finding their previous software to be inadequate, the practice made the switch to CareCloud Central in October 2010, and has experienced significant benefits as a result.
A/R Requirements Drive System Replacement
For seven years prior to implementing CareCloud Central, Bay Urology used a urology-specific practice management system that wasn’t up to the challenges the practice faces every day. “We learned to live with it, but on a day to day basis, we needed certain shortcuts that the system didn’t have,” Stokley says.
Among the deficiencies was the ability to quickly run A/R reports—all reports had to be batched to run overnight and weren’t available until the next day. “Hardly anything in the system was real-time, and that was a big holdup for me,” says Stokley, who handles all of Bay Urology’s financial operations.
The system also didn’t download explanation of benefits (EOB) statements into patient accounts. EOBs, which are sent by insurance companies, indicate how much of a patient’s bill the practice will be reimbursed for, and how much the patient owes.
Instead, staff had to manually key this data in—a time-consuming process that made it difficult to view accurate patient balances. “We have a large Medicare-age census of patients,” Stokley says, “so being able to make sure that their balances are correct is critical.”
In July 2010, Bay Urology learned the vendor that sold the system they were using planned to discontinue their software by the end of the year, so Stokley decided to search for a new practice management solution.
A Quick and Easy Implementation Process
Bay Urology only had a few months to find and implement new software, so Stokley wasted no time in getting started. She knew she wanted a web-based, user-friendly system that could handle the practice’s patient capacity and generate reports in real-time—while also falling within their budget.
After initially evaluating 13 systems, she narrowed the decision down to three, and in October 2010 the doctors at Bay Urology chose CareCloud Central.
Once the decision was made, the implementation process began right away. Stokley traveled to CareCloud’s offices for a day to learn the system inside and out, and says their team was “wonderful.” Stokley trained Bay Urology employees on the system herself, and contacted CareCloud along the way if any issues came up.
“They were so good about showing me everything I needed, so we were able to hit the ground running and get everything transitioned quickly,” she says.
Appointments App Streamlines Office Operations
The reception area at Bay Urology serves as the practice’s main hub of activity, and Stokley says the phones are constantly ringing. Staff answer all calls—the practice doesn’t have an automated phone system—which means receptionists need to be able to make appointments and scheduling changes quickly and easily to handle the flow of patients.
When a patient calls in to request an appointment, staff use CareCloud Central’s Appointments app to easily find an open slot and schedule a time for them to come in. Staff can also include a note explaining what type of visit is planned for the patient. If they’re scheduled for something such as a vasectomy, nurses can ensure the necessary room is available.
CareCloud Central’s Appointments app
Staff find the app incredibly helpful. “The doctors and PAs love to be able to pull up their schedule whenever they need to,” Stokley says. “It makes their lives a lot easier.”
Another benefit is the blocking feature, which allows staff to block off certain hours—or even days—at a time in the physicians’ schedules to allot for the surgeries they routinely perform.
Insurance Verification Saves ~$35,000 per Year
After an appointment is made, Bay Urology staff use CareCloud Central’s insurance verification feature to see if the patient’s insurance is accepted, and if they have a deductible. “Nobody gets in my office without paying their co-pays and their deductibles, so I love being able to check their insurance like that,” Stokley says.
Stokley says insurance verification is one of the biggest benefits CareCloud Central offers, as it allows staff to tell patients how much of a co-pay they will owe when they arrive for their appointment. This leads to higher collection rates and saves Bay Urology several thousand dollars per month, which amounts to as much as $35,000 per year.
“Many practices are notorious for not checking patient insurance up front, and as a result they complain about their money flow,” she explains.
“With the way reimbursements work now, if you don’t get that money up front, chances are you’re not going to see a lot of it. It’s been a godsend for us to be able to check patient insurance so quickly, and it makes a big difference in our practice because we’re more efficient and our reimbursements are higher.”
Stokley says she also finds the claims summary report feature particularly helpful because it allows her to view the status of claims and keep tabs on Bay Urology’s financial operations.
CareCloud Central’s Analytics app
In addition, CareCloud Central has a feature that flags any patients with outstanding balances, so when they call to schedule an appointment, staff are alerted that they’re behind on their payment.
“If a patient owes us a balance and we never got paid, it’s on their account, even if it’s from three or four years ago,” Stokley explains. “For me, that’s huge. If people want to come in, they have to pay their balance, so that feature is incredibly helpful.”
Patients App Stores Essential Information Together
The Patients app is another useful feature in CareCloud Central. It allows staff to view all patient information in one place. This includes their demographic and insurance information, financial history, appointment history, clinical summary and even their preferred pharmacy, so Bay Urology can order prescriptions for them.
The CareCloud Central Patients app
“Everything is right there, on that page,” Stokley says. “I hate having to click around in a system to find things, which is why I love it. A lot of offices are so blind, but with CareCloud Central, everything is at your fingertips.”
CareCloud Central is also tied in with the US Postal Service, and will automatically correct zip codes if they’re entered incorrectly. This is a key benefit for Bay Urology, as the practice is located very close to the Florida and Mississippi borders and receives many patients from out of state, so mistakes are common.
CareCloud's Small Features Make a Big Difference
Stokley has been so impressed with how CareCloud Central has helped Bay Urology that she recently referred a physician at another practice to CareCloud. She says she truly believes in the system’s ability to help practices overcome the biggest challenge they face daily: getting paid by insurance companies.
“It all starts from that first phone call, when the patient calls in,” she explains. “There’s a whole process that goes into getting paid, and If you don’t have the insurance set up right and you don’t have notes and comments and things like that set up along the way, you’re going to get denials. It’s the little things that can make or break your practice, and it’s those things CareCloud Central has helped us with.”