When Pinnacle Physical Therapy opened in Maple Valley, Wash., in 2004, the practice had some basic billing software. Within a year, though, it was obvious that Pinnacle was rapidly outgrowing its rudimentary billing system. “We needed something much more dynamic to support our growing practice,” says Joshua Lyons, Pinnacle’s business administrator.

He expected the big challenge to be finding something suitable for physical therapy. “Most medical billing software is overly complicated for our needs,” he says. “Physical therapists only use 6 or 10 codes, not the hundreds that a family practice doctor might use. I didn’t want us to have to fight our way through all those irrelevant codes.”

The Solution: Go Beyond Billing with a Customizable EHR System Geared to Physical Therapy
When he found Compulink’s Physical Therapy AdvantageTM, Lyons recognized that he could set his sights a little higher than just improving the billing system. “The concept of going paperless with electronic health records (EHR) really resonated with us,” he says. “As a younger, tech-savvy group, we jumped at the opportunity to use a system that could help us automate our SOAP notes in addition to billing and scheduling.” And because the system offered powerful customization capabilities, he could modify screens, databases, and even business rules to reflect the way his therapists practice. “We didn’t have to make any changes in our patient flow or the way we do things,” says Lyons.

The Result: 2,000 Visits Per Month With 1 Billing Staffer and a Faster Reimbursement Cycle
Today, Pinnacle has 16 practitioners offering physical and occupational therapy, as well as massage, at 4 clinical locations. “We still only have one billing staffer, even though we are approaching 2,000 patient visits per month,” says Lyons. “Most groups with our volume have 3 to 5 people to do the same thing. It speaks to the efficiency of the software that one person can handle that volume with it.” Not having to hire additional staff saved him well over $100,000 per year. And as he opened new clinics, Lyons said he didn’t have to factor in chart space. “At $32 per square foot, that also represents a significant savings,” he says.

Electronic claims submission through Compulink reduced Pinnacle’s reimbursement cycle from 30-45 days to a maximum of 14 days. “Plus, having the billing linked to the patient record helps ensure that our claims are clean,” he says. “Compulink has built-in safety measures to check that we are billing accurately for the services provided.” Lyons loves the accessibility of records that EHR offers to a multi-office practice. He says they still have more to gain from EHR as they further customize templates and move towards becoming a completely paperless office.

Pearls for Success
“We’re only at the beginning of how electronic records are used,” Lyons says. “Anyone who doesn’t understand and prepare for that is going to be in a tough spot in a few years.” He says many referring doctors have already moved to EHR and have little patience for faxing progress notes back and forth. “In the future, if you want to do business with them, you’re going to have to send electronic notes,” says Lyons. “Our colleagues will demand that we get on the EHR train, whether it’s federally mandated for PT or not. There will be challenges, but it’s time to just make the decision, dedicate yourself to it, and don’t look back.”

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