Manuka Health Clinic Success Story: Improving Lyme-MSIDS Care With Telemedicine

By Alesa Lightbourne  |  June 18, 2019

Multiple systemic infectious diseases syndrome (MSIDS), a complication of Lyme disease and other infections and allergies, is a complex illness. Symptoms can include multiple neurological, orthopedic, endocrine and rheumatic disorders, and are typically unique to each patient. This makes diagnosis and treatment difficult, requiring collaboration between numerous medical experts—a process much like solving a mystery.

But Dr. Ginger Scoggin loves a challenge. A pioneer in MSIDS treatment, she founded Manuka Health Clinic (MHC) in Anchorage in 2008. The two-person practice is renowned worldwide as a leader in vector pathogen treatment. Dr. Scoggin is consulted by other healthcare experts daily. As testimony to her expertise, her practice has a five-year waiting list.

Challenge: Improve Remote Treatment

Getting to Dr. Scoggin’s office for an in-person appointment can be an insurmountable challenge for her patients. Many are very ill, connected to IVs or PICC lines, and cannot easily travel. Others live in remote and hard-to-reach parts of Alaska where unpredictable weather conditions and transportation issues might prevent an office visit. Dr. Scoggin had to communicate with patients remotely, often spending as much as 25% of her time on the phone or Skype.

One problem, however, was that she couldn’t see patients’ symptoms on the phone. She needed sophisticated imaging, unavailable through Skype. In addition, HIPAA regulations prevented her from billing for the time she spent with patients on the phone or screen, resulting in considerable lost revenue.

Solution: All-Inclusive Management System—with Telemedicine

Ever since its inception, MHC has used Kareo for practice management. “We have always been big fans of Kareo,” says Gen Ellis, clinic director. “The system takes care of everything for us, from billing and online scheduling to ordering lab work and clearinghouse functions. It’s really easy to use, because there are multiple ways to locate any given piece of information.”

“One day we heard that Kareo was offering a webinar on its telemedicine module,” Dr. Scoggin adds. “We watched it and knew that this was something we had to have. We literally made one phone call, clicked once, and within minutes were up and running with a super-sophisticated telemedicine system.”

Solution: Seamless Telemedicine

Kareo Telemedicine is a cloud-based solution, and thus requires no downloads for either providers or patients. Appointments can be set up through Kareo’s online scheduling capabilities. Patients get an email or text when it’s time for their virtual “visit”, and link in by clicking on their computer or mobile device. Patients provide their insurance information, eligibility is checked and credit card information and payment is collected before the appointment starts. Dr. Scoggin and the patient see one another over a secure network where she can easily share lab results too.

Although she can’t touch the patient, Dr. Scoggin gets a detailed view of symptoms and the overall patient’s condition. “I need to see things with my eyes,” she says. “Kareo Telemedicine is the next best thing to an old-school home visit.”

Results: Bottom-Line Revenue Boost

The immediate result of implementing Kareo Telemedicine was not only better patient communication, but also better billing of Dr. Scoggin’s valuable time. “It’s not that we are seeing more patients,” she explains. “We have no bandwidth for more. Instead, we are finally able to bill for all the time we were already spending on remote care. Since adopting Kareo Telemedicine, our billings are up by at least 25%, with no extra time or effort on our part.”

Those billings translate into speedy earnings, thanks to Kareo. They work closely with insurance providers to streamline and expand telemedicine eligibility. “We have yet to have an insurance submission denied since adopting Kareo Telemedicine,” notes Ellis.

“Since adopting Kareo Telemedicine, our billings are up by at least 25%, with no extra time or effort on our part.”

Dr. Ginger Scoggin,
MSIDS Specialist
Manuka Health Clinic, Alaska

Results: Improved Care During Emergencies and Disasters

A good example of the benefits of Kareo Telemedicine came during the 2018 Alaska earthquake. “Vast portions of the region shut down,” says Ellis. “Roads were blocked, and water lines ruptured. Pharmacies remained closed for days."

“We used Kareo Telemedicine to provide uninterrupted care. We advised patients just like they were in the office. We could tell them which pharmacies were open nearby, so they could get the medications they needed. It made an enormous difference – providing reassurance, and in some cases potentially life-saving information.”

Zero Learning Curve

“The greatest thing about Kareo, whether we’re talking about practice management or telemedicine, is how easy it is to use. We rarely even have a question. But when we do, our rep gets back to us immediately. I can’t say enough good things about Kareo’s customer support,” says Dr. Scoggin.

“We have yet to have an insurance submission denied since adopting Kareo Telemedicine.”

Gen Ellis, Clinic Director
Manuka Health Clinic, Alaska

“Every medicine comes with its own NDC number,” she continues. “They’re really long, and they differ between manufacturers. But insurance companies require standardized information to be imbedded in the billing. With Kareo, the number auto-pops up for me. This is just one example of the way Kareo saves us valuable time every day.”

Ellis agrees. “We didn’t realize how great Kareo was until a temporary office assistant convinced us to try Advanced MD and NueMD. It was a total mess – hard to use, buggy and impossible to access historical records. Lucky thing we kept Kareo running in the background, and could switch back easily.”

The partners at MHC joke about their loyalty to Kareo and its logo color. “Orange is the new green around here,” Dr. Scoggin says. “Seriously, though, if we didn’t have Kareo, we’d have to hire two additional people. Our efficiency, quality of care and profitability all hinge on the system.”

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