NueMD Helps New Orleans Ophthalmologist Weather the Storm : A Case Study

In 2004, Dr. Notaroberto determined that Eye-Care 20/20 needed a new practice management (PM) system to address the following:

  1. Resource heavy processing to tied up resources from document and image management;
  2. Dr. Notaroberto and his staff couldn’t run the application on the multiple platforms his office used, including Apple and Windows;
  3. A high cost of ownership, with limited users and limited locations, and additional server costs, plus fees for backups and upgrades;
  4. The need for more efficient practice operations;
  5. The need to place mission-critical information off site for disaster management.

After an extensive RFP process, Dr. Notaroberto and his team ultimately selected NueMD. Unlike EyeCare 20/20’s previous system NueMD stores patient data in the cloud, which can be accessed in seconds from anywhere, at any time. Dr. Notaroberto pointed to platform independence and low cost as the primary factors in the selection.

NueMD Brings Immediate Results

Almost immediately, NueMD addressed the issues that prompted EyeCare 20/20’s RFP process:

  • Dr. Notaroberto and his staff converted space previously used for a server to a patient testing room. The increased square footage now produces revenue by allowing patients to be seen faster.
  • Tech support costs of their old system were totally eliminated, for an annual savings of $8,500. Also, annual upkeep and maintenance costs decreased from $1,200 in 2004 to $800 in 2005.
  • Collections increased by $30,000, insurance reimbursements were faster and denied claims decreased.
  • EyeCare 20/20 was able to audit their patient flow, and increase flow and recall by 25%.

Hurricane of the Century

The benefits of a cloud-based PM were immediate, but the EyeCare 20/20 team had no way to predict how fortuitous it was to consider the potential for a disaster when choosing NueMD for their PM

“When it comes to planning for disaster management, I guess my hindsight was 20/20. At the time we were looking at practice management options, we knew it was important to keep our patient records off site, but we were thinking about the potential for damage from a fire or a theft, not a flood.”

-- Dr. Neil Notaroberto

In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina raged through southern Louisiana. A Category 4 storm, Katrina has been billed one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history. Dr. Notaroberto’s practices were located near some of the worst hit areas.

“Our Harahan office is 10 miles from the center of New Orleans and only two miles from the levee of the Mississippi River. The Slidell office is next to New Orleans East, which was totally obliterated.”

City officials in Harahan and Slidell issued mandatory evacuation orders before the storm hit. Notaroberto and his staff closed both offices, left town and hoped for the best.

Weathering the Storm with NueMD

Despite widespread destruction across the region, Dr. Notaroberto’s practices escaped without structural damage. On Sept. 7, 2005, local and national officials permitted residents back into the area. On Sept. 15 – just two-and-a-half weeks after the storm – Dr. Notaroberto and half of his office team (those who did not lose homes in the storm) came back to work and started seeing patients.

“We were up and running from day one, with our data safe and secure on NueMD’s servers, far away from the storm’s path,” said Notaroberto.

In fact, thanks to NueMD, Dr. Notaroberto …

  • was the only ophthalmologist in the entire New Orleans metro area seeing patients September, 2005
  • saw more patients in September-October, 2005, than all of the other EyeMDs in the surrounding area
  • was the first physician in his community to start operating in the local surgery center after the hurricane

“The increase in patient load that we saw immediately following the storm has been sustained,” said Notaroberto. “Pre-Katrina, we averaged 21-27 patients daily. Now we average 33-39 daily.”

Blue Skies Ahead

Since Katrina, life has slowly been returning to normal. Dr. Notaroberto and his team, however, are quick to point out that things are not exactly “normal.” They continue to absorb patients from other practices, accounting for a 50% patient load increase.

“We now have a disaster plan, an employee call list, and an algorithm to follow and we’ve increased our insurance on the business to replace all equipment."

 

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