Delivering Paperless Efficiency to Occupational Healthcare
Healthcare is perhaps the last major industry that hasn't been revolutionized by technology in terms of the productivity and efficiency gains that many other industries have seen. One healthcare segment in particular—occupational and industrial medicine—is particularly laden with paperwork and highlights the need for a technology solution to bring healthcare management into the 21st century.
Providers of occupational and industrial medicine treat injured workers and ensure that an employer's workforce is fit for duty. State regulations impose significant paperwork and reporting requirements— tasks that are exacerbated by the high patient volume of many clinics. For a typical clinic, the burdens of record keeping and reporting have encroached significantly on the primary duty of ensuring the occupational health and safety of its patients.
ChartBase, an innovative practice-management and electronic medical records solution from Morpheon Corporation, fully automates the operation of an occupational-industrial medical clinic with a simple, intuitive and elegant interface that is robust and yet enjoyable to use. ChartBase automates scheduling and patient flow while also providing documentation and assessment tools for doctors and other providers.
The application also automates the completion and submission of state-mandated forms and reports while eliminating the use of paper. In addition, to comply with the special claim-filing requirements of workers' compensation insurance carriers, ChartBase automatically compiles and submits all of the required supporting documentation along with the claim so that doctors are reimbursed for their services in a timely manner without complications.
Sybase PowerBuilder Streamlines Development
Because Morpheon is a pioneer in this market segment, developers had to create ChartBase from scratch to meet the unique needs of the occupational-industrial healthcare sector. To build the application, Morpheon spent a significant amount of time researching workers' compensation and other regulations as well as observing the staffs of medical offices as they struggled in their attempts to utilize medical software that was not designed for occupational-industrial healthcare providers.
For the technology to build the solution, Morpheon turned to the Sybase PowerBuilder development environment. PowerBuilder enables rapid, iterative development of applications with rich, interactive, data-driven features.
"Sybase PowerBuilder is the core programming technology we relied on for creating ChartBase," says Ronnie Po, Founder and Principal of Morpheon Corporation. "PowerBuilder makes it very easy to write complete applications, and it allows you to do it very quickly. PowerBuilder also makes it easy to design the look and feel that you want for your application, and to hide complex operations with a simple and intuitive interface. This is important in the medical sector, which has arcane rules to follow and requires a lot of customized functions. Users don't want to be aware of this, so the application must take care of it for them. This gives ChartBase a distinctive advantage since many medical practices would otherwise have to turn to complex, fragmented solutions that require end users to do more."
DataWindow Plays A Key Role
One particular ChartBase innovation that PowerBuilder technology helped facilitate is a unique graphical query tool that assists doctors in recording diagnosis codes. To properly document a work-related injury, a doctor must record the appropriate diagnosis code after assessing the patient. Rather than looking up the code on paper or entering search terms and scrolling through a list of results, ChartBase enables the provider to simply click on an image of a human body and then select from a narrow list of possible conditions and diagnosis codes related to that part of the body.
ChartBase also offers a unique view of a clinic that shows a live patient sign-in sheet along with the status of each room, doctor and patient as well as waiting times and alerts for late and missed appointments. Office personnel update the status and manage patient flow by dragging and dropping objects on the screen. In addition, PowerBuilder's Web Forms deployment option provides Morpheon with a seamless path to implement the ChartBase Employer Web Portal, a web application that gives employers a live view of the status of injured employees, as well as drug screen and exam results.
The PowerBuilder DataWindow has played a crucial role in developing all of these innovations.
"The DataWindow is key to what makes PowerBuilder so useful and unique among development environments," Po says. "We can use the DataWindow in all sorts of ways, some of which go way beyond what's suggested in the PowerBuilder documentation. We've used the DataWindow to implement everything from a point and click report builder to a drag and drop appointment scheduler."
Database with Enterprise-Class Capabilities That's Also Easy to Manage
Morpheon turned to Sybase SQL Anywhere to handle the highly complex queries and large volumes of data that ChartBase manages. Existing ChartBase implementations involve anywhere from half a dozen users to a few hundred users, and SQL Anywhere has scaled seamlessly with the size of the implementations.
"We selected SQL Anywhere because it's easy to deploy and administer for non-technical users in organizations don't have an internal technical person on staff," Po says. "It has all the features of an enterprise database platform but is easier for small and medium-size business to manage. It also integrates easily with PowerBuilder, which allows us to simplify the implementation process. We can package SQL Anywhere with our application so that the whole thing can be deployed from just one installation package."
Customer Case Study Highlights Level of Efficiency That ChartBase Provides
One organization transforming its operations through its implementation of ChartBase is Healthpointe Medical Group, which has 60 physicians and 300 support staff deployed in 10 offices throughout southern California. James Aviles, the company CTO, says that ChartBase is the end-user application that Healthpointe relies on most since it has automated so many processes including patient exams, billing, and the completion of regulatory forms.
"ChartBase allows our employer clients to start the process by filling out a form online when they have an employee that needs medical treatment due to a work-related injury," Aviles says. "As each patient goes through the steps of checking in, seeing a medical technician and then a doctor, the form automatically progresses from one person to the next—with all the previous information that has been entered. Once the visit is completed, the employer receives the final exam report along with any other necessary forms."
Aviles emphasizes that the automation provided by ChartBase has had a definite positive impact on patient care: "We don't have to go looking for any paper forms, and doctors can complete exam forms much faster. This frees up doctors so that they can spend more time on each patient and see more patients per day. This ultimately leads to patients recovering faster."
Another key benefit that Aviles points to is the ability of ChartBase to integrate with any other medical-office system. "ChartBase links with our x-ray application so doctors can easily pull in x-rays and attach to other paperwork associated with a patient," Aviles says. "We can also connect ChartBase to our VoIP call center to assist with billing collections. ChartBase truly interconnects our various systems so that the entire office runs more efficiently, which in turn allows us to increase the level of service we provide to patients."
Flexibility to Meet Evolving Future Medical Industry Needs
With the flexibility that Sybase technologies offer, Morpheon will continue to add and modify ChartBase features based on evolving business and regulatory conditions. As an example, unlike the case with Medicare and most private and group health plans, many insurance carriers are only just now beginning to accept electronic claims for workers' compensation. As a result, Morpheon will make ongoing adjustments to ChartBase to enable users to achieve an entirely paperless claim-submission and reimbursement process.
Additionally, the U.S. government has mandated that healthcare providers switch from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 classification system for recording diagnosis codes. When this mandate takes effect in 2013, the number of diagnosis codes will greatly expand from approximately 50,000 to approximately 200,000. ChartBase will play an increasingly important role in providing tools for providers to comply with this change. Morpheon is also extending ChartBase capabilities to serve medical specialties outside of occupational and industrial medicine.
"Sybase PowerBuilder and SQL Anywhere are key components of our ChartBase application and a big reason why we have succeeded," Po says. "Both technologies will play a key role going forward as they continue to enable us to develop a rich and broad feature set without a large number of developers. They also allow us to offer a solution that's easy to manage so that our clients don't need a lot of technical support."