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HL7 Medical Data Interface Success

Horizon MIS™ Links Easily with Freestanding Clinical Records System

Horizon Serves as the "Heart" of New Paperless Medical Office

Elkin Pediatrics and Adult Medicine in Elkin, North Carolina is focused on providing the best patient care possible -- and one means of achieving it is employing advanced information technology.

By aiming for a virtually "paperless" office, this newly formed medical practice has been able to accomplish a number of goals. Among them:

"Last fall, we had the advantage of starting a brand new practice from scratch," said Office Manager Donna Hutchens. "That 'blank slate' allowed us to design the BEST system for our needs. Our doctors wanted to adopt state-of-the-art technology to see us well into the 21st century.

"One of our first decisions was to install Horizon MIS™."

According to Hutchens, Horizon has become the "heart" of their system. "Our entire practice has run on Horizon since practically the day we opened. The software handles just about every activity, making it possible to run with far less paper than most practices."

The secret was interfacing Horizon with a third party clinical charting system and a laboratory application. "We investigated numerous billing and charting programs, and selected what we thought were the best: Horizon for its billing and practice management functions, and the A4 HealthMatics EMR system for clinical charting. Horizon feeds appointment and patient data to the charting and lab systems (both the PCs and the doctors' hand-held units) every 20 or 30 seconds. Lab billing is returned to Horizon. Everything's fully coordinated."

As to the installation, Hutchens said "It went very smoothly! We were extremely surprised at how easily things meshed. Our goal was to achieve a 100 percent paperless environment from day one. At the end of that first day, we had seen more than 50 patients -- all without the creation of a single paper chart!"

In addition to the ability to interface with external systems, Hutchens cited several other features of Horizon that have increased efficiency and reduced costs. "We automate everything we can, because saving time means saving money. It also means improving accuracy. We let the computer do all the detailed and repetitive tasks it can so we're able to focus on our patients.

"For example, we rely on electronic claims and electronic statements and let Horizon do most of the internal pre-checks of information to make sure they're correct. We utilize the automated collection letters for a consistent collection procedure. We use Open Item accounting which saves so much time in reconciling insurance and patient payments. We use internal electronic messaging extensively. I could go on. Suffice it to say, we didn't realize until after we installed Horizon how many time-saving capabilities it had."

Elkin also achieved significant savings in hardware due to Horizon's multi-user THEOS® operating system. To begin with, everything is controlled from a single PC server (expensive AS400 or RISC processors are NOT required as with many competing systems). Furthermore, they were able to "pick and choose" what type of equipment to use for each individual workstation (dumb terminals, PCs, or a PC network) depending on the type of work required at that site.

"Overall, I don't think we could have configured a better system for our new office. We've achieved our initial goals ... and feel we're set to capture new opportunities in the future."