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Integrating and Partnering

As ‘The Intelligent Office’ becomes more automated, communication systems network more partnerships


ECPs continue automating their offices with electronic health records (EHRs) and practice management systems. According to the latest CMS figures from November 2013, a total of 13,469 optometrists have registered for the Medicare EHR incentive program. As electronic health records become more and more commonplace in practices throughout the country, there’s an ever increasing need for patient communication systems to integrate with them.

When asked which programs they’re compatible with, providers of communication systems will invariably say that they are capable of working with all of them. This is because integration is possible as long as the system can generate a simple report, according to Jeffrey J. Guterman, MD, MS, chief medical officer with 4PatientCare. He said that 4PatientCare has maintained a “Switzerland” approach, integrating with every major practice management system on the market today. Most recently, 4PatientCare announced partnerships with MyVisionExpress and with VisionWeb’s new Uprise electronic health records software in 2013.

4PatientCare also announced a partnership with ECP alliance PECAA in November 2013. And Dr. Guterman said, “4PatientCare has partnered with every major system vendor in the eyecare industry and associations such as the Optical Women’s Association. We were the first communications company to become a certified Eyefinity partner and have our True Webscheduler connect directly to the EyeMed ‘Find a Provider’ locator.”

Solutionreach partnered with Eyemaginations last year to provide automated animated education to the patients of its users. In addition, Solutionreach has also established relationships with Eyefinity, Cleinman Performance Partners, IDOC and The Williams Group.

After entering the optometry market just two years ago, Demandforce now partners with a range of industry leaders including: Carl Zeiss Vision, Vision Source, Essilor, ABB Concise, Eyefinity, Compulink, MaximEyes, RevolutionEHR, Crystal Practice Management, My Vision Express, Red Tray and Optometry Giving Sight.

Websystem3 took its alignment with industry leaders to extremes last year when the company announced that it was purchased by contact lens company, CooperVision, Inc., in December 2012.

Beyond partnering with electronic health records, practice management systems and companies within the optometric profession, patient communication and engagement systems are also aligning themselves with mainstream technology leaders as well.

For example, Demandforce works with partners such as search engines and social media sites to generate more attention for the reviews posted by customers using the system. “Partners such as Bing, Facebook and CitySearch provide automated syndication of the reviews we collect for our customers to the other major sites/search engines,” said Aimee Leifer, head of Demandforce’s Health Services Division.

A few of TeleVox’s partnerships are with GE, NextGen, and Allscripts.

Mobile – The Next Big Thing

Demandforce began designing for mobile when the company realized 45 percent of users were interacting in that way.
Soon after Demandforce realized that approximately 45 percent of those interacting with emails were doing it on mobile, according to Leifer, “we made all of our products ‘mobile first,’ designed for a user experience on a mobile phone,” she told Vision Monday. “When you build it, you deliver it so it’s optimized for mobile. The old way it was developed for the computer first then adjusted and squeezed to fit mobile,” she explained.

The results were immediate and dramatic. “We saw a massive increase in the number of people completing reviews,” she said. “It increased interaction because it was user friendly.”

Reviews and Surveys
David Golden, OD, of the Golden Optometric Group practice in Whittier, Calif., has also noticed an increase in post-visit survey responses when he gives patients a chance to reply at their convenience. “People don’t take the time in the office to respond to a survey,” said Golden, who uses 4PatientCare in his practice. “They like to do it on their own time.”

Intelligent surveys from 4PatientCare include both traditional email-based communication after a visit and a new in-office survey with real-time alerting. “With our real-time alerting system, practices now have the ability to directly speak with an unhappy patient or customer prior to them ever leaving the office,” Guterman of 4PatientCare told Vision Monday. “Your staff can now help prevent a negative patient experience from going viral through social media and review outlets.”

Websystem3 directly links satisfied patients to popular online review sites. The software enables eyecare practices to deploy survey requests, push text messages to patients and integrate with Facebook.

Solutionreach has helped Beaumont Family Eye Care grow 20 percent in its second year since moving to a new location.
Peter Cass, OD, of Beaumont Family Eye Care in Beaumont, Texas, has been using Solutionreach’s survey feature for about a year now. “We’re getting a little more aggressive with them so we can monitor how the visit went, how we are doing things, and tweak if necessary to try to improve things if we have a problem,” he told Vision Monday. But he also takes it further than that by replying to every survey completed and posting them to the internet to gain more traction.

“We reply to every survey,” he said. “If somebody sends us a survey, it automatically gets posted to the website. We reply to every survey, and if it’s bad, we start with an apology. We had a new patient choose us specifically because we went back and responded to every single survey. We’re also posting all the surveys to the Solutionreach website, which Google picks up as a secondary website for search, grabbing the better ones and embedding them on a page of our website.”

Not only has this enabled Cass to promote his practice, but it’s also helped him improve it based on real experiences from his patients. “We’re getting a lot more feedback than in the past,” he said. “I would much rather know about problems and have the opportunity to address them than have unhappy patients out there.”

He explained his procedure for dealing with a negative survey: “We print it out, find out where the problem is and what we can do to fix it. Then we call them within a few minutes. It often surprises them that we call. We apologize and make it better. Patients respond really well to that. In the past, the patient would probably just go away mad and probably tell others.” ■