Bloom Pediatrics of Birmingham, MI underwent substantial changes over their first year with PCC. They transitioned to a new office manager, battled a pandemic, and hired an expanded staff, all on top of switching their EHR. But all along, their partnership with and support from PCC assured them they had made the right decision — in their first year with PCC, Bloom Pediatrics formed a partnership with their EHR vendor that has helped them overcome obstacles and look to the future with excitement. “Every time someone in my office hangs up the phone with someone at PCC, they’re like, ‘They’re just so nice!’,” says Dr. Katie Schafer, DO, FAAP. Jokingly, Dr. Schafer responds to her colleagues’ surprise: “‘I know. I’m telling you guys, it just doesn’t seem right!’”
When Dr. Schafer proposed to the office manager at Bloom Pediatrics that they change their EHR, she thought perhaps it was a task too tall to be accepted by her colleagues right away. But if Dr. Schafer expected pushback, she was pleasantly surprised when instead, her colleagues were ready for her to lead the charge to change.
She now says that any physician or manager seeking to make a big change at their practice may only need a single champion to lead the way, without as much resistance as you might fear. “I liken it to a kid when they want to ask their parent for a raise in their allowance at dinner,” she says.
“‘[Deciding to switch EHRs] was this aha! moment where I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m actually going to be able to do this!’”
Starting Over from Scratch
Dr. Schafer knew their current EHR arrangement wasn’t working for her professionally. She wasn’t sure how to run a report, find data, or how to touch anything outside of her work in patient charts. When she asked her colleagues, they weren’t sure how to answer her questions — as it turns out, they’d been quietly struggling, too.
With their current, non-pediatric solution, the practice couldn’t perform adequate recall tasks and remind patients to come in for visits. Since preventative care is the majority of pediatric visits and important factors in a pediatric practice’s revenue, Bloom knew that consistently losing patients for their regular preventative appointments was costing their patients important care. Since generally, adult medical care focuses less on preventative visits, their EHR was simply not built to provide the reminders, messaging options, and alerts that help pediatricians keep kids on track.
Rather than fight with an EHR that wasn’t working for them, Dr. Schafer decided it was best for them to start over by staking out a new plot of land that would help their practice grow instead of stagnate. Dr. Schafer began to ask around about other pediatric EHR options at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition, as well as on Facebook groups and forums such as SOAPM. While she learned about PCC’s EHR early, she was surprised at one thing — how often PCC rose to the surface.
“PCC just kept boiling up. I would ignore it, then I would be on a Facebook group and someone would ask the question about, which EHR do you use? It was resounding: PCC. Totally unsolicited, people just kept saying PCC, without question. When I decided we were going to do this, I didn’t actually even entertain anything else. We were either going to stay where we were, or we were going to go with PCC. I think that’s what stood out to me the most — the unwavering and unsolicited support and admiration of PCC clients.”
The idea that clients both enjoyed and built relationships with their EHR vendor was new to them, but Bloom gained a whole new perspective after making the jump and inviting PCC’s practice management team into their office. After some inquiry, Bloom and PCC discovered that they had outgrown routines they’d lived with for a long time, and didn’t even realize it. “We’re like, should we have another biller? It was all we knew and this practice had been in existence for many years before I joined,” says Dr. Schafer.
Switching to a new EHR isn’t easy, and Dr. Schafer admits making the change can be difficult, but her advice to other pediatricians remains:
“Sometimes, I look around at just how much we’ve learned, how much I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, the transformation within our practice, and the one big elephant in the room was this transition that we made. It was not easy, it’s still not easy. We’re still working through some of the stuff because it’s only been about nine months and we went through a pandemic in the middle of it. Things were a little hazy, but without hesitation, to other pediatricians considering PCC, I would say jump.”
“[Deciding to switch EHRs] was this aha! moment where I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m actually going to be able to do this!’”Dr. Katie Schafer
A New Community
With a team of new hires and an office manager still learning her way around the practice, Bloom Pediatrics courageously took on an increase in staff, a new EHR, and a pandemic. While the changes have been many and often unexpected, Dr. Schafer says PCC’s support has made all the difference.
From the beginning, PCC’s culture assured Bloom that they had a partner who would help the practice succeed in any way they could. “No amount of time goes by when things just don’t get addressed quickly,” Dr. Schafer says. “If we have questions, I can work with our client advocate, I can send a message to support, I can send a text message to some of my new friends at PCC. I can send an email. I think that’s why it’s so fast, it’s because it’s so hands on. It doesn’t sound like that ever goes away from the people that I know who have been clients for many years, who’ve now become my friends. That doesn’t really go away.”
PCC’s work with Bloom over the first months of their partnership was both insightful and revolutionary for the practice, providing them the practice management, technical, and educational support they needed to learn a new EHR, revise old business practices, and adjust to the many changes in store. During their first year, the practice has also enjoyed making connections with other PCC clients to compare notes and learn from their colleagues across the country. “We’re our own little practice, we have our ways of doing things,” reflects Dr. Schafer. “In our line of work, it’s not necessarily easy to get exposure to other offices unless you meet and talk to people.”
She notes that PCC resources such as the clients-only forum PCC Community and the annual Users’ Conference have been helpful in learning more about how other practices operate, helping Bloom seek options and advice as they grow. Before joining PCC, Bloom was invited to a Users’ Conference and Dr. Schafer and her staff were able to meet other satisfied client practices, solidifying their desire to join the community.
In fact, about a year after their decision to join PCC, Dr. Schafer came to know another PCC client, Dr. Robin Warner, MD, FAAP, as a result of 2020’s virtual Users’ Conference. The two physicians collaborated to film a video of PCC clients dancing in their offices, as a celebration of the virtual conference.
“As a result of our intention to do that, Robin and I became fast friends and she has been an excellent mentor to me! Would you believe that Robin and I have never even met in person and yet we talk almost every day? It was our common use of PCC and our common desire to show our gratitude to PCC that has united us in friendship.”
Hands-On Tools to Help Growth
Dr. Schafer, meanwhile, is pleased to have an EHR she can really get familiar with. She especially likes that even if she has a question, she knows she can get answers from PCC Support, from her Client Advocate, or from other practices on PCC Community. This familiarity and support is one way she expects PCC to help Bloom as they look to the future.
A well-known way to look at a pediatric practice’s growth and management needs is to look at their newborn count, or how many newborns a practice is seeing each day. Bloom’s newborn count before PCC was very approximate, because Bloom’s previous EHR couldn’t search by age in a given time frame, only by CPT code. Since newborn visit CPT codes also apply to older babies, searching by CPT code cannot distinguish newborns from their older infant counterparts and fails as an accurate way to search for the answers Dr. Schafer needed. At the time, the biller’s guess was that Bloom saw 50 newborns a month. By searching PCC EHR for her preferred visit type, Dr. Schafer was astounded to see that over the previous year, they had seen anywhere from 65 to 90 newborns per month, almost double the biller’s estimate.
“When we’re trying to plan for growth, we’re trying to plan for buying vaccines, and ordering lab stuff, we have to be able to know what we’re doing, who we’re seeing, and what their needs are. In our old system, we couldn’t do that accurately. This has just given us a tremendous ability to be able to track that kind of stuff. Really, it exposes some weaknesses and also some strengths in that we’re really busy, which is a great problem to have.”
“PCC cares about what we care about. It’s just little things that make our workflow easier, then of course just actually doing our job better.”Dr. Katie Schafer
Pediatric Solutions for Pediatricians
Bloom knew from the beginning that they wanted a pediatric EHR solution. When asked if choosing a pediatric solution is important for all pediatricians to consider, Dr. Schafer said, “Absolutely. One of the things that we were really not good at in our previous EHR was keeping track of preventative care visits, which is like the fundamental foundation on which we practice medicine. We had no good way of doing recall. I can’t tell you the number of times that a parent said to me, ‘I didn’t know there was a 15 month visit.’
“We didn’t have a good system by which we tracked our patients who weren’t coming in. Now, at the end of every single visit, I set a task. If they don’t schedule it at checkout, then the front desk moves the task to next month where they can call the family and say you need to come in.”
There are more pediatric-specific benefits too: “The last well visit pops up in the medical summary when you go to make an appointment,” explains Dr. Schafer. “Now, we can better track our ADHD kids who come in for their med checks and well visits.” She goes on to list other favorite pediatric features: immunization forecasting, growth charts, eRx.
“PCC cares about what we care about. It’s just little things that make our workflow easier, then of course just actually doing our job better.”
PCC’s regular software updates have helped Bloom handle many transitions, not least of which was the COVID-19 pandemic, which rocked practices across the country. The staff and physicians at Bloom now trade Snap Text notes with one another to create efficient notes, and they love being able to text their patients waiting outside that a room is ready for them.
While the many changes at Bloom Pediatrics, not to mention the ongoing nature of a pandemic, have presented unique challenges, Dr. Schafer isn’t worried about slowing down any time soon: “We’re not settling down, we’re just getting ramped up.”
Dr. Schafer knows the future is uncertain, but she has many goals for Bloom’s future, including a move to a larger location and winning a “Dashy” award at next year’s User’s Conference, an award for outstanding improvements in the practice’s Dashboard, which measures important clinical benchmarks such as HPV vaccinations, financial goals, and more.
In all, she’s glad that her practice now benefits from not only the services, software, and support that PCC provides, but the community of physicians, experts, and educators that will help Bloom continue to flourish. Her final advice to pediatricians is something PCC also advocates — find a champion for any big undertakings, and ask for help from others when you need it, because the odds are in your favor that someone has tried something similar, and is more than willing to help, especially if you too are dedicated to the health and welfare of kids in your community.