athenahealth Improves Patient and Physician Practice Interactions with Launch of athenaCommunicator

WATERTOWN, Mass., Mar 22, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- athenahealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN), a leading provider of Internet-based business services to physician practices, today announced the launch of athenaCommunicatorSM, a new patient communication service that is fully integrated with athenahealth's established web-based physician practice management and electronic health record services. With the addition of this new service, athenahealth provides physicians with a unique and comprehensive suite of web-based services aimed at freeing them and their staff from cumbersome administrative tasks, ultimately improving practice operations and the quality of care delivered.

athenaCommunicator offers a set of communication tools and services designed to manage patient interactions triggered by practice staff or by automated routines within athenaNet(R), athenahealth's web-based platform. Specifically, from a centralized inbox, authorized users can view a record of all patient communications conducted via a patient web portal, automated messaging platform, or an athenahealth operator. Like other athenahealth services, this new service is web-based and does not require doctors to invest in costly software, servers, or phone lines.

Features of the athenaCommunicator service include: 

  • Automated Messaging Platform - Consists of automated phone calls and e-mails to patients for appointment reminders, past due balance alerts, disease management initiatives, and other compliance-driven campaigns. Integrated messaging solutions include:
    • ReminderCallâ" - Generates messages to patients for appointment reminders and pre-appointment instructions.
    • GroupCallâ" - Creates broadcast outreach campaigns to select patient groups regarding self-pay balances, annual visit reminders, weather-related office closures, disease management messages, and pay-for-performance programs.
    • ResultsCallâ" - Automates the secure delivery of test results to patients.
  • Patient Web Portal - Gives patients a secure and efficient, 24-hour, web-based approach to scheduling appointments, retrieving test results, viewing personal health information, updating insurance and demographic information, viewing educational health content, reviewing financial statements, making secure credit card payments, and more.
  • Live Operator Services - With virtual access to the same athenaNet screens currently used by practice staff, athenahealth operators can answer patient calls on a doctor's behalf and provide convenient and intelligent assistance, easing the burden of high call volume on a practice's staff while granting greater access and flexibility for patients.
  • Self-Pay Reminder Service - With scheduled messaging based on balance amounts and ageing thresholds, athenaCommunicator aims to improve collection rates and self-pay days in accounts receivable. Additionally, automated balance due reminders via phone and e-mail coupled with soft-collect letters delivered via the patient web portal can improve the speed and quantity of dollars collected.  

Combined, these capabilities will bring a host of valued benefits to physician practices, including expanded accessibility for patients after-hours and on weekends; re-captured staff and physician time; reduced no-shows and improved arrival rates; and the elimination of expensive paper-based mailing campaigns.

athenaCommunicator Leveraging Advanced Healthwise(R) Knowledgebase and Healthwise(R) Ix(R) Conversations

As part of the athenaCommunicator patient web portal sites, patients will now have access to the advanced Healthwise(R) Knowledgebase. The 8,000 evidence-based topics in the Knowledgebase are easy to use--in patient-friendly language. When patients access their test results via the athenaCommunicator web portal sites, patients can simply click to the information in the Knowledgebase that helps them interpret their results. The Knowledgebase also helps people check their symptoms to know when to call or visit the clinic. Additionally, it guides people through decisions about treatment options. And, patients with chronic and acute conditions can gain the knowledge they need to better manage their health.

The athenaCommunicator patient web portal sites will also soon offer thirteen Healthwise Information Therapy (Ix(R)) Conversations. These multimedia "virtual coaching conversations" are short, interactive programs where patients can learn about complex health issues (for example, Beta Blockers to Prevent Another Heart Attack) and how to make behavior changes (for example, Quitting Smoking). Through an engaging use of voice, animation, and storytelling, each conversation guides the patient through a series of questions and provides a custom experience based on the patient's answers.

"We have been a long-time client of athenahealth, and our group has already seen the tremendous benefits this new patient communication service can deliver," said Usman Mirza, CEO of The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, one of Texas' leading orthopaedic centers and one of the original athenaCommunicator development sites. "What is often not discussed when addressing physician practice challenges is the massive volumes of phone calls, faxes, letters, and messages that are required to best serve patients. We had recognized that patient communications have not evolved to take full advantage of mobile communication, internet, and email, and athenaCommunicator is clearly designed to help us manage a wide variety of patient interactions from one centralized inbox on athenaNet."

Listen to Family Medical Associates' experience using the new athenaCommunicator service for their medical group in South Attleboro, Massachusetts:

"Physician practices are increasingly challenged to remain accessible to patients 24/7 while facing a rising volume of daily phone traffic and administrative tasks that require prompt attention and can bog a practice down. Our new athenaCommunicator service, built on our web-based platform, improves patient and doctor interactions outside of the office, leading to better access, care, and profitability." said Jonathan Bush, athenahealth's Chairman and CEO. "athenaCommunicator will now play a crucial role in seamlessly closing the growing and critical activity of physician practices' various communications with patients across a number of fronts, which will become increasingly more important as doctors and medical groups look to successfully participate in emerging pay-for-performance programs like the HITECH Act."

As of its launch, athenaCommunicator joins an integrated suite of web-based medical practice solutions used and trusted by more than 23,000 providers across the U.S. These solutions include a network-based electronic health record (EHR) service, athenaClinicalsSM, and a revenue cycle management service, athenaCollectorSM, which combined offer continually updated payer-specific billing rules, advanced e-prescribing capabilities, back-office processing specialists, and coding support tools that help medical providers to enhance patient care and obtain appropriate reimbursement.

About athenahealth

athenahealth, Inc. is a leading provider of Internet-based business services for physician practices. athenahealth's service offerings are based on proprietary web-native practice management and electronic health record (EHR) software, a continuously updated payer knowledge-base, integrated back-office service operations, and automated and live patient communication services. For more information, please visit or call (888) 652-8200.

About Healthwise

Healthwise is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people make better health decisions. Nearly 120 million times a year, people turn to Healthwise information to learn how to do more for themselves, ask for the care they need, and say "no" to the care they don't need. Healthwise partners with health plans, hospitals, disease management companies, and health Web sites to provide up-to-date, evidence-based information to the people they serve. To learn more about the Healthwise Information Therapy (Ix(R)) Solution, visit or call 1-800-706-9646.

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the expected benefits of the service offerings of athenahealth and Healthwise, the planned integration of those offerings, and the timing of such integration. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. In particular, the risks and uncertainties include, among other things: the risk that our service offerings will not operate in the manner that we expect, due to design flaws, security breaches, or otherwise; potential interruptions or delays in our internet-based service offerings; our reliance upon third parties, such as computer hardware, software, data-hosting, and internet infrastructure providers, which reliance may result in failures or disruptions in our service offerings; errors or omissions included in our payer and clinical intelligence rules engine and database; and the evolving and complex government regulatory compliance environment in which we and our clients operate. Existing and prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. athenahealth, Inc. undertakes no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances, or otherwise. For additional disclosure regarding these and other risks faced by athenahealth, Inc., please see the disclosure contained in our public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, available on the Investors section of our websites at and on the SEC's website at

SOURCE: athenahealth, Inc.

athenahealth, Inc.
John Hallock, 617-504-0958
Director, Corporate Communications
[email protected]