Staff at health centers reported overwhelmingly positive experiences using Medical Manager. The most effusive comments were made when comparing current use of Medical Manager to the systems for practice management and billing they had in place prior to HCN. Health centers uniformly noted improvements in operational and administrative efficiency. While there were some functionalities that people indicated could be improved, most were satisfied with the application as implemented by HCN. Furthermore, most health centers believe that their satisfaction with Medical Manager was largely a result of HCN’s buying power and ability to work effectively with WebMD on customizations and problem resolution.
Billing and administrative simplicity. Respondents consistently indicated that the implementation of Medical Manager through HCN has allowed them to more effectively collect from payers with less investment on their part. In many cases, this enhanced efficiency followed not only on the use of Medical Manager but the outsourcing of their entire billing operation through HCN. In particular, health centers noted that Medical Manager does a better job than other applications in supporting sliding-scale billing. Health center networks have indicated that billing errors have been greatly reduced using Medical Manager and, when they occur, they are largely the result of inadequate user training rather than an application issue. While some health centers did suggest that more flexibility around billing formats would be desirable given evolving payer requirements, overall satisfaction was very high.
Reporting functionality. Health centers also indicated satisfaction with reporting capabilities provided through HCN and supported by Medical Manager. In particular, health centers noted that Medical Manager facilitates development of required reports such as the UDS and helps with tracking specific disease populations and procedures as required by some funders. While health centers indicate that the reporting capabilities provided through Info point and Crystal Reports are robust, many do not have the in-house expertise to produce custom reports and rely instead on standardized reports produced by HCN.
These standard reports are useful, particularly because some of them elucidate utilization and management trends associated with specific diseases. However, some health centers note that they would like to see better reporting from Medical Manager around administrative or business issues, including reports that assess health center productivity, reports tracking use of volunteer hours and reports describing experience with specific high cost diagnoses and procedures.
Ease of use. Some health center respondents reported problems with making full use of the Medical Manager application. Many health centers indicated that their staff was routinely unable to use the system to realize specific functionality that they were told the application supports. For example, respondents indicated that they have had difficulty using Medical Manager to track instances where patients do not show up for scheduled appointments or to track which user (health center staff member) was responsible entering data for a particular encounter. Other health centers indicated that they would like to use Medical Manager to “flag” veterans, school-aged children or patients who have been seen at another of the health center’s sites, a function they have not been able to make work.
Some health centers felt that these problems were a result of inadequate training, other cited lack of appropriate skill among some of their health center employee users. HCN is able to address these issues through the development of standardized reports or functionalities where they “do the work” for the health centers. However, HCN is not able to satisfy all of these requests, especially when the demand for them is restricted to one or two health centers.