The Practice Growth Podcast is an educational resource for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers about how to market and manage a thriving healthcare practice.
In Episode 10, host Lisa Christy chats with Product Manager Sarah Tsunehara about PatientPop EMR integrations. PatientPop integrates with more than 60 EMRs (and counting!) to deliver greater patient connections and efficiencies for customers. Click below to listen.
Lisa Christy: It’s been a few years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act required healthcare providers to adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of electronic medical records (EMRs). By the end of 2016, 62 percent of all office-based physicians demonstrated meaningful use of certified health IT, according to CMS EHR Incentive Programs data. That number is likely higher today.
EMRs are designed to help you tackle some of the most burdensome tasks at your practice. You might not know it, but the PatientPop solution is designed to help you get more out of your EMR. How? Stay tuned for this episode, because my guest will tell you all you need to know.
Hello and welcome to The Practice Growth Podcast, the doctor’s resource for marketing and managing a thriving healthcare practice. I’m Lisa Christy.
Recently, we shared a conversation I had with James Owen, PatientPop director of product, about online scheduling. During that conversation, we learned online scheduling tools like PatientPop online booking help reduce administrative work for staff.
What we didn’t talk about is the fact that PatientPop offers integration with many of the most widely used EMRs in healthcare, which improves the overall online scheduling experience, among other benefits. We’d be remiss not to share more information on this topic with you, which is why I have invited PatientPop Product Manager Sarah Tsunehara to join me today.
Sarah Tsunehara: Thanks for having me, Lisa.
Christy: Let’s start with the very basics, Sarah. First tell me what is an integration in general.
Tsunehara: An integration is a way for one or more different software systems to talk to each other. In the marketplace, they’re pretty common. You may have an integration between your email client and maybe a payment system that you use. That’s how your payment system knows to notify you that you’ve made a credit card payment, for example. There’s something that software companies can use to talk to others pieces of software and to help people do more work.
Christy: Great, that makes sense. Now, a little bit more specifically, tell me what exactly is a PatientPop integration?
Tsunehara: For PatientPop, what we try to do is take our platform and integrate it with the practice management solutions and electronic medical record systems that our doctors use. What they really do is they empower our platform to do a whole lot more.
Our platform works by knowing what appointments are on the schedule so that we can do real-time availability, knowing what patients have been in to see you, and also knowing what their contact information is so that we can ask them to give some feedback.
Check out: A step-by-step look at how PatientPop works
Christy: You said that integrations between two software solutions are pretty common. Are integrations between two healthcare software solutions common?
Tsunehara: Healthcare is a really difficult space. There’s just a lot of healthcare software, there’s a lot of specialized EMRs and practice management solutions for specific specialties.
What’s happened is that, for the most part, when an integration is built, it’s built very custom. A lot of times a hospital that has a big budget will go out and hire a company to build them an integration to whatever system they want. They’ll maybe have them build five or six custom integrations.
It’s a lot harder to get a platform that just has a series of integrations across multiple systems that you can just connect to without having to do more custom work.
Christy: Obviously, a small independent healthcare practice doesn’t have the budget that a giant hospital system would have. That’s a huge benefit to them.
Christy: Great. According to the PatientPop website, the PatientPop solution integrates with more than 60 different EMRs, which serve a wide variety of healthcare markets. Can you tell me a few of the EMR that PatientPop integrates with?
Tsunehara: Yes. One of the big ones we integrate with is athenahealth. We have a lot of integrations. We actually have about 96 percent of the market for the dental integration. Any dentist, almost any EMR that they’re using, we can integrate with. A big one is Dentrix. Some others we integrate with are ChiroTouch and AdvancedMD.
We have pretty good coverage right now. We’re always looking to grow and expand that to more EMRs, and that’s something that my team is working on very hard right now.
Christy: You mentioned that you guys are working to expand that to more EMRs. What criteria does PatientPop use to decide whether it should pursue an integration partnership?
Tsunehara: There’s a few different factors. One of the factors that’s in play is just what technology exists on the side of that EMR or practice management system.
Some of the practice management systems are a lot more advanced, and they’ve created platforms that make it very quick and easy for us to do in integration. When we can find a partner like that, we like to do that because it’s a quick win for us, and it’s a stable win. It’s one that we feel confident, it protects our customers’ data.
The other thing we look at is market share, so both for our current customers and also customers that we’d like to reach out to. We just look at the market and say like, “What EMRs are people using right now?” “What practice management solutions are they using?” We try to go after those ones first.
It’s a combination of people we have partnerships with, people who have made it easy to integrate, and people who have a lot of market share with our current customers and our prospective customers.
Christy: That completely make sense: You would go after the ones that most people are using so you can satisfy the most people.
Christy: Let’s talk about integration benefits. First, what are the benefits of a PatientPop integration for a practice’s patients?
Tsunehara: There are a few benefits. I think one of the big ones is that the patients will get appointment reminders depending on how their practice is configured, which is something that they can choose to do through their implementation manager or their customer success manager. Their patients will get reminders by email or text or both to tell them that they have an upcoming appointment, and ask them to confirm that they’re coming to the appointment. Then when the patient confirms they’re coming to the appointment, they no longer have to get a phone call from the front office. That can save everybody a phone call.
The other thing it does is, when patients are looking to book a time and you’ve got book online set up on your website, what it can do is let a patient know the real-time availability of a doctor. If they really want to come in after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, they can open the calendar and immediately know if there’s an availability there without having to get on the phone, call during office hours.
One of the things that makes the online booking tool really powerful is that people don’t have to catch a front office desk person when they’re available. They can look any time, and the integration lets us show close to real-time availability, so that they can book a time tomorrow that both the practice knows is open and now the patient also knows it’s open.
Christy: You mentioned a little bit with the appointment reminders that that’s a benefit for the staff, as well, because they don’t have to spend that time calling patients, which gives them a little bit of time back in their day, which I’m sure they appreciate. What are some other benefits of a PatientPop integration for healthcare practices themselves and their staff?
Tsunehara: The reminders can save a lot of time for the front office. They can also reduce no-show rates, because letting people know in advance that they’ve got an appointment coming up maybe a week ahead, three days ahead, the day before, that reminds them to come into the office. This means you don’t have an empty chair or an empty room when you’re expecting a patient there.
The other thing it does for the practices is, in addition to saving some phone calls, a lot of times patients, if they have to call and ask if some time is available, they won’t. They’ll choose a different doctor that has that availability. Especially as people get more and more digitally connected, it’s really important to them to be able to know what their experiences are going to be like, what times are available before they ever pick up a phone and talk to a person. That can really drive a lot of value.
If they’re not integrated, then what happens when booking online is it looks like a request system more than like our true booking system. Having a true booking system can really drive someone to feel like, “Oh yes, 2 o’clock, that’s the time I want.” That can bring more patients through the door.
Then the other thing that we do is, after a patient has left their visit, we ask them to leave some feedback for the practice. We ask them if they’d recommend the practice via both, again, both text and email, depending on what’s configured.
If you’re integrated, we’re able to text and email all the patients who have come in for appointments, not just the patients that have booked online. When you’re not integrated, the only patients we know about are the ones that came in through our book online tool, and so the number of feedback requests we can get is much smaller.
Feedback is really important for practices, both because it increases their online presence and it helps people recognize them and also understand more about what their patients like about them, what kinds of patients are successful with them, and it gives them some private feedback as well. If a patient wasn’t happy, we let them leave some private feedback for the doctor, and that can really help the practice improve, as well. If the patient felt like the waiting room was dirty or the patient didn’t like an experience they had at the front office or something else went wrong, that feedback can help the practice tune their own performance as well.
Christy: Great. We keep talking about these appointment reminders, and I just keep thinking about the dentist appointment I had maybe two weeks ago. As I was leaving, I scheduled my next appointment, and I was walking out the door and I was like, “Oh wait, when did I schedule that for? I didn’t write on my calendar.” She was like, “Oh, it’s March 1, but don’t worry about it, we’re going to text it to you to remind you anyway.” I was like, “Super.” I thought that was so nice that I didn’t actually have to do it in the moment.
They did, they texted me later that day, to say, “Hey, your appointment is confirmed.” I know from experience with that doctor that they text me leading up to the appointment, as well, which is great because dentist appointments are six months apart. They’re really easy to forget and schedule over.
Tsunehara: Yes, I think especially for people that have appointments that are recurring but not really close together. If you’ve scheduled something three months ahead, you may not remember that you’ve got that appointment till you start getting reminders.
Christy: Right. I wanted to bring the conversation back to reputation, because you did talk about that feedback that patients can give to the practice, which I know from working at PatientPop, that can actually ultimately end up boosting the online reputation of our customers. Can you explain how that works and how that’s possible?
Tsunehara: Yes. If we’re integrated, we’re able to pull a list of all the appointments that have happened, get the patient contact information, and then after the appointment, we send the patient a message asking them if they would recommend the practice. If they say they would recommend the practice, we send them to a site that can be configured with your account manager again.
We encourage them to leave an online review. More online reviews for any practice or any business can really help drive business to the practice. And again, it helps drive the right customers to the practice, because patients need to understand what sort of doctor they’re going to be seeing, what sort of experience they’re going to have. Understanding that from the words of other people who have been to that practice can really help them make a decision about where they’d like to go.
Christy: I know that Google is one of the sites that we drive people to to leave their feedback. Are there any other sites that you think are worth mentioning?
Tsunehara: We have other places that we can leave reviews. Google’s one we strongly encourage. There are other sites like Healthgrades.
In terms of us driving directly, we tend to encourage people to go to Google first, that is really important, because it’s also something that can really help your search rankings with Google. It’s one of the ways that Google recognizes your business as being more real or more popular and more interesting to put at the top of a search page.
Christy: I know that there are some PatientPop customers who are or who use an integration eligible EMR at their practice but they are not currently integrated with PatientPop. How should they contact PatientPop to take advantage of an integration and these benefits that you’ve discussed?
Tsunehara: All of our customers can reach out to their customer success manager, and their customer success manager can help them create a case, and we’ll direct them to the right person to get a integration created for them.
Christy: Great, it sounds super easy. Just reach out to your person that you always talk to and they’ll help get you set up.
Tsunehara: Quick call or email to your usual person that you talk to, hopefully every quarter, or you can let them know during your quarterly review, and they will get you set up with an integration.
Christy: Well, Sarah, thank you so much for talking about PatientPop integrations. I know that this is something that we talk a lot internally about, so it’s great for me to chat with you to get a reminders of all the benefits of integration and why it’s such a great service that we offer.
Tsunehara: Yes, thanks for having me.