Athenahealth Software Overview

An overview of the medical claim billing software packages offered by Athenahealth, including their advantages and disadvantages...

There are many practice management packages to choose from. Athenahealth is one of the most technologically up to date and comprehensive.

athenahealth logo

Athena provides a web-based practice management software that includes full patient access, claims and clearinghouse processing, and payer reports.

On the other hand, though, the package comes with a hefty price tag (see: medical billing software prices) and requires full technological compliance. Another great resource for medical professionals is Practice Management. This software aides medical professionals and medical office staff to help daily office tasks, like calling patients to confirm appointments.

Practice Management Software: athenaCollector

Athenahealth's practice management software athenaCollector is a combination of web-based software, an extensive rules database, and back-office services aimed at working claims until they're finalized.

A great advantage of this program is that you don't have to pay Athena anything until your claims get paid. There's no start-up fee or hidden costs. You pay only after your claims have been paid by insurance.

Athenahealth's web-based software takes most of the work out of sending and processing claims. The program includes claim tracking, denial management, and checking patient eligibility.

They update their extensive rules database continuously with the newest medical billing and coding guidelines. Your claims are always sent correctly the first time using the most up to date information available. It's like having your own personal medical billing clearinghouse to scrub, correct, and refile your claims for you.

A team of specialists staff the back-office services. They take on the administrative burden of claims paperwork. This means that your office staff won't have to send appeals, work denied claims, or send claim corrections...

...the athenahealth staff will do all this for you!

Electronic Health Records: athenaClinicals

In addition to the athenaCollector practice management software, Athena offers athenaClinicals, a full service electronic health records (EHR) database.

This EHR software is similar to most others, but is internet-based. This means that all your records are online, so you don't have your office cluttered with hefty patient charts and computer servers.

Because it's online, you won't need to worry about buying additional expensive servers, paying licensing fees, and installing software upgrades. All updates are done automatically through the athenaClinicals online service, free of charge.

This EHR software is fully integrated with athenaCollector (the practice management software) for a seamless transition from patient clinical data to patient insurance and collections.

Patient Communications: athenaCommunicator

athenaCommunicator allows patient access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Patients can communicate to their doctor's office via email or web messaging. athenahealth provides an after-hours phone service for patients who need nurse triage.

Furthermore, athenaCommunicator will help remind patients of scheduled appointments, reducing the amount of no-shows and missed patient appointments. This service also includes a soft collections process for collecting patient debts.

athenaCommunicator also includes:

  • an automated messaging platform
  • a patient web portal
  • live operator services
  • a self-pay reminder service.

Payer Rankings: PayerView

PayerView is a comprehensive breakdown of the way providers and insurance companies work together, which strives to make these dynamics more transparent.

Athenahealth is particularly suited to follow these transactions because they track the details of thousands of provider to insurance transactions every day.

This means that they collect and compile every detail from each and every claim that gets processed. The resulting data can tell if certain codes are continuously denied and why, and what needs to be done to change them.

Furthermore, PayerView distills this information per insurance company, to provide a list of quantitative rankings of medical payers. They further use this information to communicate with payers about how to improve their processes.


With all of the great features offered by athenahealth, it may be hard to see any disadvantages...

The truth is that there are few disadvantages to the Athena system. It's a complete, up-to-date, and technologically advanced medical claim billing software. It includes everything that an office needs to run a medical practice smoothly and efficiently.

That being said, this program isn't free. Although you don't have to pay up front for services, the athenahealth fee may be larger than what your medical office is already paying for its medical billing, coding, and administrative budget.

If you're considering using this system, don't assume it will automatically save you money.

Crunch the numbers yourself: find out how many claims you send each year, what your average annual reimbursement is, and understand how much of your budget is available to spend on a new practice management system.

Another disadvantage that you need to take into account is that your office will lose control of claims processing.

This may be a bit of a mixed blessing. Although you won't have to spend time correcting, refiling, or appealing claims, neither will you see what claims were denied, appealed, or refiled.

In this scenario your office will always run the chance of losing control of claims. If athenahealth doesn't complete the back office procedures correctly, you may not be able to do anything about it until it's too late.

In order to reduce this possibility, continue to keep track of your reports, including your annual reimbursement and denied claims, to help make sure everything is going smoothly.

The last major disadvantage the technology. Because all athena programs are web-based, your office will have to have a reliable, fast connection to the internet, as well as the required hardware for each staff member to access the internet.

Before you purchase the system, take into account any money you'll have to spend on buying additional computers, securing your internet access, and training staff.

The Bottom Line

Either way you look at it, the athenahealth system is a great tool to improve the inner working of your office, as well as patient communications and tracking claims. Just don't assume that one simple program will relieve you of all your administrative duties.

No matter how you look at it, no software will erase all your headaches. Make sure you continue to monitor your reports, cash inflow, and cash outflow, to make sure the program is worth it.

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