Piedmont Healthcare is a private, not-for-profit, integrated healthcare system based in Atlanta, Georgia. Caring for 3.4 million patients across 1,400 locations – including 22 hospitals and 21 surgical centers – Piedmont provides high-quality care for 80% of Georgia’s population.
In order to broaden their reach and care for more patients, Piedmont Healthcare has been expanding its footprint through a series of strategic acquisitions. But as more hospitals and operating rooms were integrated into their electronic health record (EHR) system, they found that new locations didn’t always speak the same language when it came to surgical terminology and procedural codes. For example, while one site referred to gallbladder removal cases as removal of gallbladder, another site may use cholecystectomy. What was missing said Allyson Keller, Piedmont’s Executive Director of the Patient Connection Center & Patient Access Support Unit, was a standard way of documenting their surgical procedures.
“As we added facilities, we took procedure lists and manually combed through, trying to figure out the best naming conventions and how they matched,” she said. “We used this approach to onboard five facilities and always experienced data quality issues like inconsistent procedure descriptions and duplicate terms, to name a few.”
Furthermore, procedure terms were not mapped to Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) codes that help ensure accurate scheduling and prior authorization approval. This forced Piedmont to dedicate time and resources to manually standardize and map data from each site as they were integrated. Without a uniform dictionary of codes and terms, scheduling accuracy and efficiency suffered, as measured by their realistic scheduling percentage.
Piedmont had been partnering with IMO since 2011, utilizing their industry-leading problem and diagnosis terminology which maps clinical terms to the accurate standardized codes. Seeing the success of this partnership, and the benefits of IMO’s seamless integration with their EHR, discussions began to assess if IMO could help address challenges facing their operating rooms.
In 2015, Piedmont integrated IMO’s surgical terminology and scheduling solution into their EHR system. This quickly streamlined the maintenance of procedure terms and codes in their surgical dictionary, helping Piedmont to improve scheduling, reduce denied prior authorizations, and easily identify inpatient-only procedures at the time of scheduling via automatic notifications. Having each term accurately mapped to corresponding CPT codes made a substantial impact throughout the organization.
“CPT codes gave us the ability to speak the same language,” Keller explained. “IMO helped us bring in even more aliases and match them. More than just standardization, IMO’s OR solution improved our surgical case scheduling accuracy and ensured we were doing things similarly across all facilities.”
IMO’s robust surgical terminology and precise code mapping provided a consistent language and repeatable process for all Piedmont sites as they managed their surgical procedures. As a result, when new sites are onboarded existing and new ORs will be spared the scheduling headaches of the past. Moving forward:
All surgical procedure terminology will be detailed and consistent across the organization, with each term accurately linked to necessary CPT codes — minimizing resources assigned to manually maintaining data
Inpatient-only procedures will automatically be flagged at the time of scheduling, supporting operational workflows and reducing denials
With improved case duration accuracy, Piedmont will be able to continue improving their KPI of realistic scheduling percentage
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