Tolar Systems Improves Productivity for Abilene-based Orthopedic Group
Abilene Bone and Joint worked with Tolar Systems to implement Microsoft Teams and optimize their IT strategy. The result? Improved patient intake and payment processes, more productivity throughout their clinic, and less time dealing with technology issues – all while saving tens of thousands on technology infrastructure.
Abilene Bone and Joint (ABJ) is an orthopedic group based in Abilene with approximately 70 users across two locations. ABJ chose Tolar Systems to help them optimize their IT support costs, enhance communication within their business, and make technology a more strategic asset for their organization.
ABJ is led by six medical providers and has approximately 65 support staff. With such a large practice, it was often difficult to communicate and collaborate as the clinic’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system could not adequately support these efforts. According to ABJ Practice Manager Spence Southall, “our electronic medical records system has messaging, however it is cumbersome to use and is not able to reach multiple employees at once.”
This was a challenge for ABJ because, according to Southall, “Our clinic is extremely busy and each department relies on other departments to provide the best possible care, while and collecting accurately. Mistakes cause extra work for everyone on our team; worse, they create a poor patient experience. When issues arise, it is almost always because of either a lack of communication or a miscommunication.”
According to the client:
“We asked Tolar Systems if they had any ideas on how to streamline our interdepartmental communications and they did: Microsoft Teams.”
What we did
ABJ considered multiple alternatives and selected Tolar based on our client-first culture as well as the depth of the solution offered. Southall said, “We have monthly meetings to address issues that affect multiple departments. But problems aren’t solved in real time with this approach and it takes time away from our core business. We asked Tolar Systems if they had any ideas on how to streamline our interdepartmental communications and they did: Microsoft Teams.”
Tolar Systems proposed hardware and infrastructure upgrades to support implementation of Microsoft 365 email and Microsoft Teams to improve communication and collaboration in the office, along with ongoing managed monthly support and strategic quarterly VCIO sessions to ensure that ABJ continue to optimize their IT investments.
A major component of Tolar’s approach is helping clients get the most from the infrastructure they already have, rather than requiring new investments. Tolar’s solution for ABJ included upgrading and virtualizing their existing server within the first year, saving ABJ more than $30,000 compared with buying a new server to support their needs.
According to Southall, “Tolar’s suggestion of optimizing rather than replacing our servers was great. It’s something we never thought of and that saved us tens of thousands of dollars.”
Tolar began the project by migrating ABJ’s existing PopMail email service to Microsoft 365 Outlook, ensuring that the equipment and servers were able to accommodate the new requirements and providing user training on the new tools. Next, Tolar implemented the new cloud-based Microsoft 365 productivity suite.
As more than 98 percent of ABJ’s users use Outlook web access or mobile apps to access their email, installing Outlook and other applications on user devices was not a major focus. However, one software application that was implemented for all users was Teams, which was installed on all mobile phones, workstations and other devices.
Tolar also upgraded ABJ’s existing server to accommodate their electronic medical records (EMR) software, ensuring that all systems were fully HIPAA compliant and met security requirements. This included setting up encryption for outbound emails.
To improve patient intake in the waiting room, Tolar also helped implement tablets to replace previous paper-based processes. These new systems allow patients to check in and make payments directly from the tablets; implementing them required installing a new server to accommodate the tablets, as well as upgrading the wireless network within the office.
According to Southall, the process was streamlined, with most of the work was completed behind the scenes. When the time to came to cut over to the new systems, the transition was smooth. “It was so easy,” said Southall. “Tolar simply provided me with a list of log-ins, instructions on how to install Teams on our computers and phones if we needed it, and they were on site to help with those installations.”
According to the client:
“Tolar’s suggestion of optimizing rather than replacing our servers was great. It’s something we never thought of and that saved us tens of thousands of dollars.”
Working with Tolar has had a positive impact on ABJ’s business. The addition of mobile tablets has streamlined patient intake and payments. Renewed emphasis on compliance and security across ABJ’s IT systems has reduced risk related to HIPAA violations and cybersecurity breaches. And with more regular data back-ups of all email content, the risk of email loss has also been reduced.
Perhaps more importantly, the addition of Microsoft Teams has improved collaboration and communication within ABJ’s offices. According to Southall, “Teams has helped us streamline our operations and improve the patient experience. We are now able to communicate more easily between departments, share information clinic-wide, delegate, provide feedback and address issues immediately, decreasing our need for meetings.”
“Teams is also HIPAA compliant,” said Southall. “We’re able to communicate patient information from our desktops right to our physicians’ phones so they can respond to patient questions more quickly and accurately. Everyone in our clinic uses Teams now. It’s one of the first tools new employees are trained on.”
“Everyone inour clinic uses Teams now. It’s one of the first tools new employees are trained on.”