By GREGORY ZELLER //
Patient Innovations does not have modest goals. Citing a sad legacy of waiting-room delays and other gross inefficiencies costing healthcare providers both time and money, the 2013 startup is out to change the healthcare world.
And if it generates a billion-dollar payday along the way, so much the better, says cofounder Ken Greenberg.
Pardon Greenberg’s optimism, which may be influenced by his success as cofounder and CEO of award-winning, circa-1992, Hauppauge-based traditional/digital marketing stalwart Austin & Williams. Or perhaps by the gravitas of his Patient Innovations partner, or by the whispers he hears from professional collaborators, potential investors and others who think his five-year-old startup is sitting on a virtual goldmine.
The heavy-hitting partner is Akram Boutros, a former chief operating officer at Oceanside’s South Nassau Communities Hospital and one-time executive vice present of St. Francis Hospital-The Heart Center in Roslyn. Akram – whose lengthy résumé also includes an advisory role for Northwell Health and a stint as clinical-transformation executive at Brooklyn’s Brookdale University Hospital – is now president and CEO of the Cleveland-based MetroHealth System, one of the largest healthcare providers in Northeast Ohio.
But he’s still heavily invested in Patient Innovations, where he and Greenberg are producing cloud-based software programmed to recapture “lost time” in both private-practice and hospital settings – benefitting the patient’s experience and the provider’s bottom line, according to Greenberg, and a surprisingly novel concept for many providers.
“Over the years, doctors and even hospital administrators never really worried about the patient’s time,” Greenberg told Innovate LI. “They didn’t expect that worrying about the patient’s time would benefit them.
“But there is a cognitive dissonance in that,” he added. “If you see the patients faster, you make more money.”
Greenberg’s own eyes were opened by a report produced by The Beryl Institute, a Texas-based community of worldwide healthcare providers focused on improving the patient experience through collaboration and shared knowledge.
The 2016 study draws a fairly obvious conclusion – “The longer we wait, the more pissed off we are,” Greenberg noted – and discusses everything from empathetic nurses to “chief experience officers” moving into C-suites.
“So now you have people working on making the hallway a little quieter or your (hospital) gown a little more comfortable,” Greenberg said. “Anything to improve the patient experience.”
Among the study’s more concrete findings: Thirty-five minutes is the average waiting-room “breaking point,” according to Greenberg, when patients become “really annoyed, and maybe consider leaving, and get up and make noise.”
The study has greatly influenced Patient Innovations’ first commercialized product, an in-development pipeline project and a growing database that may ultimately prove to be the startup’s golden-goose vertical.
The live product is OnTime Care, a software suite designed to track interactions between patients, equipment and medical staff – a one-stop digital organizer featuring a “more intelligent scheduling engine” and a “very strong communications engine,” according to Greenberg.
The combination of digital technologies offers multiple benefits, starting with an overhaul of how appointments are scheduled – the front line in the battle for the patient’s heart, noted Greenberg, who wonders why restaurants get it, but doctors don’t.
“If you go to Cheesecake Factory and the wait’s an hour, they ask if you’re OK with that,” he noted. “If you say yes, they give you a beeper and tell you to come back when it flashes or whatever and they’ll get you seated right away.
“At the doctor’s office, they hand you a clipboard and say, ‘Have a seat and fill this out,’” Greenberg added. “And that’s it. They don’t even say how long it will be.”
OnTime Care aims to eliminate the wait completely by synchronizing appointment times with the provider’s actual availability. And if for some reason the doc is running behind, “we’ll send you a text message or an email and tell you how long it will be,” Greenberg noted. “We’ll keep you posted.”
The software’s dynamic scheduling protocols also send automatic appointment reminders to patients – and if they don’t respond to “multiple reminders,” Greenberg said, “we assume you’re not coming and fill the appointment from the standby list,” a tool meant to mitigate overbooking situations.
There’s also the SmartSchedule function, which analyzes user input and other data to determine which medical staffers will be required for a particular case and how long those professionals may be required, then gets cracking on schedule synchronization.
Meanwhile, for hospital-based clients, the OnTime Care suite boasts what Greenberg termed “a major breakthrough in technology” – a real-time “location system” built to keep tabs on doctors, patients and even equipment.
The proprietary system features a “Live Interaction Management Engine” that utilizes electronic tags in a completely novel way, according to Greenberg, and will do the tracking job of traditional radio-frequency identification devices at about one-fifth the cost – ideal for busy hospital staffers trying to hunt down vital machinery, wandering patients and other moving parts.
After beta testing last year, OnTime Care is now up and running at Fort Norfolk Medical, a Virginia-based association of comprehensive healthcare providers.
Based on interest from potential partners – including Melville-based global distributor Henry Schein, which according to Greenberg introduced the startup to Fort Norfolk Medical – the cofounder expects the flagship product to be a hit. But Patient Innovations is already fast at work on its next products, he noted, which may quickly overcome OnTime Care’s head start.
The startup is now seeking investments for its next software-development project – OnTime Discharge, designed to get patients out of the hospital in 15 minutes and potentially “worth millions to hospitals,” Greenberg said.
And it’s already well into what may become a seminal database on patient analytics.
“The more clients we have, the more data we have, with all those touchpoints from all those electronic tags,” Greenberg noted. “We’re going to have data that nobody else has.”
The database is already growing – the CEO counts about 1.5 million data points generated each month just by Fort Norfolk Medical – and will ultimately result in “Big Data that we will be presenting intuitively.”
“One guy in Virginia told me he thinks we can double his revenue, because the data reveals so much,” Greenberg said. “I met an investment banker last week who said this was a $3 billion business.”
For now, with nine U.S. patents pending and OnTime Care off and running, the cofounder – who along with Boutros ponied up more than $700,000 to develop the first software and launch the enterprise – is actively meeting with investors to raise “a few million,” enough to develop that OnTime Discharge suite and “scale this thing.”
“Maybe one day this will help reduce the high cost of healthcare,” Greenberg said. “If I can eliminate the wait in doctors’ offices and lower the cost of healthcare, that would be an amazing legacy.
“But I certainly wouldn’t mind getting rich, if everybody’s right about this.”
Patient Innovations LLC
What’s It? Cloud-based software solutions for eliminating waits in doctor’s offices and otherwise promoting patient satisfaction and efficiency in both private-practice and hospital settings
Brought to You By: Successful entrepreneur Ken Greenberg and successful doctor Akram Boutros
All In: About $730,000 self-invested by the partners, plus a $600,000 stake by United Healthcare, mostly feeding software development
Status: Flagship product up and running; ready to change healthcare forever