Published on Thursday August 2, 2018
In this edition of the eCW Podcast, host Brian Saal speaks with Alyssa Pearson, from South Lake Pediatric Group in West Minneapolis, Minnesota, to learn how the practice is implementing a full suite of Patient Engagement tools across all six of its locations. From Patient Portal to healow Kids, along with healow Open Access® scheduling and TeleVisits, South Lake’s providers are working to give busy parents the resources and convenience they want and need, while continuing to provide the highest quality care to every patient and family.
“2:30 in the morning, 10 o’clock at night, whenever they think about something, or if their kid has a fever or pinkeye, they can schedule that, or go online and send a message to us through the healow app.”
Alyssa Pearson, South Lake Pediatrics, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When South Lake Pediatrics asked parents how they could better serve them, the answer was overwhelming — they wanted the same tools they might find at an adult-based clinic, including a Patient Portal for access to their health records, the ability to book appointments online, and access to their providers and 24/7 access to medical help. Today, an astounding 98%+ of families are using Messenger, and 81% are enabled on the Patient Portal.
Parents who bring their children to South Lake Pediatrics love the healow Kids app, which provides them with quick answers to common questions, lets them track things like breastfeeding and immunization schedules, provides care summaries, and allows them to send questions to their providers — with the confidence that the questions will be read and answered.
The providers and staff at South Lake recognize that a strong, reliable telemedicine solution will be an integral part of quality care delivery in the years ahead, extending care to those who may find it difficult or impossible to come in to the office but whose circumstances make a remote visit possible and medically appropriate.
South Lake Pediatrics has made appointment blocks available for every one of its clinicians, at all six of its sites, for all the hours the practice is open. healow Open Access® is giving parents the ability to see what’s available and book their own appointments, providing them with peace of mind, reducing the number of phone calls the practice receives, and saving time for everyone.
South Lake Pediatrics conducted extensive training on Patient Portal and the healow apps to ensure that every provider and staff member would be able to help patients with the new tools. But they also worked with the Patient Relationship Management (PRM) Services team, who created personalized fliers and helped patients see that the information and features available to them were truly customized for South Lake and the needs of their patients.
While the technology that powers eClinicalWorks and the healow family of Patient Engagement products is impressive, South Lake Pediatrics has found that the most critical difference is more effective communication, simply giving parents the choices they want, including the option to communicate in ways other than the telephone, and at any time of the day or night.
South Lake Pediatrics is continuing to expand its use of Patient Engagement tools. With the upgrade to eClinicalWorks V11, families are able to access all their accounts through a single log-in. And Proxy Portal lets families calibrate the access that parents have to their children’s records, in keeping with state age guidelines and privacy rules.
Brian Saal: Hi, welcome to another edition of eCW Podcast. I’m your host, Brian Saal, and today we’re speaking with Alyssa Pearson, from the South Lake Pediatric Group in West Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hi, Alyssa, how are you doing today?
Alyssa Pearson: Hi, I’m good. How are you?
Brian: We’re doing great, we’re doing great. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about what originally drew you in to using the healow products that you’re currently using. And I should point that you have some amazing numbers around this. I think we looked at 98% or 99% of your patients were set up on Messenger, and about 81% are using the Portal. That’s phenomenally great. So what was it that got you initially excited about using healow?
Alyssa: A lot of it was we would do monthly outreach for patients, kind asking them what they wanted from us at the clinic. So that really was a huge difference, is listening to what our patients, our parents, are telling us. And a lot of that was being able to use a Patient Portal, like they can at an adult-based clinic, and book appointments online, see messages from our clinicians, or send a message, right when they’re thinking about something, regardless of what time of day it is. So, 2:30 in the morning, 10 o’clock at night, whenever they think about something, or if their kid has a fever or pinkeye, they can schedule that, or go online and send a message to us through the healow app.
Brian: Are you currently using healow Kids? The healow Kids app? What do you think of that?
Alyssa: Our parents love it. Just anything from being able to see the ins and outs or ups and downs on the app, to being able to track their breastfeeding, or the diapers, even something like that helps us in talking to our triage nurses. Moms love it because, if they can’t come to an appointment, they can put notes in for what they want the app to ask, and they know it will get asked because he’s got the app on his phone that he can pull out and reference those questions right then and there, so it helps eliminate the number of phone calls back we have after appointments, saying, you know, we forgot to ask about this specific question, or anything like that, and they love the feature of being able to send in a question to a triage nurse. And the triage nurses also have the option on that healow app, the healow Kids app, to be able to send a summary about what was discussed in the care advice on there. They can reference that app at the same time, for … all of that.
Brian: I know, I’ve talked to several parents who were very happy that they could see their own growth charts on the app, as well as developmental milestones. So, from a parent’s point of view, myself, I wish that was around when my kids were little. Going back to those numbers that we talked about a little bit earlier: What sort of advice do you think you might give another practice about how to at least bump their numbers up if they’re not doing that well with attracting clients or patients, I should say, into using healow. I know that you worked somewhat with folks from our marketing department to come up with some marketing materials. Can you kind of describe that process for other potential providers?
Alyssa: Yes. So, the biggest thing we did that helped with our success, is we did an all-staff training. So that was anywhere from our administration team, our medical assistants, our PAS department, which is our billing. Everybody went through a training. We did it about eight to 10 individual trainings, so that we could make sure we reached everybody. During that training everybody received a packet of information, so it laid out what available in both the healow and the healow Kids app, so that they knew what the difference was. We created temp patients, so both under two, to kind of show some of those growth chart pieces, where it reported back what our clinic had put in, as well as what our parents had put in from home, to kind of track and know the difference between the scales — that was a huge piece for us.
And then we made actual photo flipbooks, so we just took screenshots on our phones of the different portions of the app, and each of our reception desks has those there, so that when they’re talking to the parents, they’re questioning them when they come in, they can actually get that part out and show them some of the features that are on it, and so that includes being able to pull up quick for them to know what date they got their last DTAP on for a school field trip form, or showing the milestones, being able to put things in the journal, and all of them. So we were able to do a lot with training, and then we did it in conjunction with your marketing team. They created a little more personalized fliers to South Lake Pediatrics, and we were able to put both healow and healow Kids information on each side, and really, truly showed them that all of this information and the features are available 24/7.
Brian: Just as aside, on the new Patient Portal, version 8, parents will be able to download the entire immunization record, so that they don’t have to come in to the office to have it signed, etc. They’ll also be able to download school forms and sports form as well directly off the Portal, saving everybody a whole lot of time. So that’s a great feature that’s coming down the pike, or is actually in production for users of version 11 now.
Brian: One of the other things in talking about the healow app that I always get kind of excited about is the TeleVisits. Are you using the TeleVisit application at all?
Alyssa: We’re not currently. It’s something that we’ve started to look at. We’re very interested in some of the other area clinics that are starting to pilot that for us, especially for — hat’s an interest of ours.
Brian: Let’s kind of shift gears here and talk about what the benefits are for the clinics. How are they utilizing healow, and what’s working out for them?
Alyssa: Sure. So we, actually, one of the biggest opportunities was being able to work with our after-hours triage service. So, when our patients call our main line, and they get ported to our triage clinic, they actually will direct patients to the website, or to the healow app to be able to schedule appointments — if it’s recommended — for the next day, which is not available unless… We have broad, open access here. You don’t have to be a patient here, you don’t have to be web-enabled. Anybody can go on and see what appointment times we have. It’s peace of mind and instant gratification for those families, especially when you don’t plan on your kids getting sick. And it really made a huge difference for us during our morning phone rush, especially during cold and flu season. There are some Mondays after the weekend where we’ll have — phone calls, and the availability of going online and booking appointments right away has made a huge difference, both for the clinic and for patients, too.
Brian: So, you are using healow Open Access®?
Alyssa: We are, yes. We put the blocks on, healow blocks, and we’re advertising those. So we have blocks on every single clinician, all six sites, all throughout the day, for parents to be able to see ahead of time.
Brian: So, they can actually book their own appointments? It’s not going through a front office parents to approve it, they are actually going out — that’s fantastic. Parents must love that.
Alyssa: They do have the option of sending a request if they don’t see something that they like, but the number of requests that we have are pretty limited sometimes. The difference… [inaudible]
Brian: Again, going back to tips and tricks for practices who might want to expand their use of healow, is there any one thing that your practice has done that you feel really got patients or parents interested in doing this? I’ll give you an example. You said that you trained everyone, and that’s a great step forward, that’s fantastic. I had interviewed a group out in Carson City, Nevada, where once a week everybody in the office had to wear a bright green tee-shirt that said “Ask me about the Patient Portal” or “Ask me about healow.” Did you do anything along those lines?
Alyssa: Probably one of the bigger things for us is that with the supplies we created with the marketing team, we have in our hospital rounding folders … [inaudible] and then we have new patients or pre-natal appointments, where they come to see us ahead of time. They all walk away with a folder from us, with various information, and right in the front of that is a folder that shows what all of the benefits are. And I think that’s a huge selling point for us at the clinic.
Brian: That’s fantastic, you’re getting them at the pre-natal stage. I don’t want to say jumping the gun, but you’re right in there, so that’s fantastic. I’m sure that a lot of time went in before you actually rolled this out, to test it, and to make sure it was meeting the standards, and giving the correct information, of course. Can you tell us a little bit about your testing procedures.
Alyssa: Yeah, so we built in — and this was kind of before it was actually linked within eCW — so we went in to P2P, built every single clinician profile, and then it links their primary service locations, or wherever they see patients at — we have six primary clinics. And then … [inaudible] … numerous test patients that we have so we knew what kind of messages they were getting back, both for direct booking and for any appointment requests. So we did a lot of testing, and during that time frame, too, with just having it open, we actually had quite a few patients that would find it just on our website, or the healow.com piece, and they would actually be able to put information or appointment requests through. So that kind of worked just to get their feedback right away, see what do you like? What do you want to see? So not only were we able to get the test patients here … [inaudible] … we actually were able to get some live patients in there, also.
Brian: That’s great. I’m sure that during the testing process you and your folks got to know the apps pretty well. What about patient adoption in terms of the learning curve for the parents? Did you find that they needed a lot of hand-holding, or the product was intuitive enough that they could jump in with both feet almost immediately?
Alyssa: Honestly, it was pretty easy for them to jump in. The biggest pieces were just questions on where they could find specific information, and letting them know, OK, this is different from the Patient Portal, now where you log on to the Patient Portal, you have to have your individual log-ins, so we’re really looking forward to that with Version 11. On the app you can have all of your kids under one account. Being able to have the staff show them how to add each of their children was huge. So, being able to take care of that off the bat, I think everybody else was able to figure everything else out through the app, very easily.
Brian: You must be pretty excited, too, about the Proxy Portal coming available.
Alyssa: That’ll be huge for us, for pediatrics.
Brian: Yeah, that’s something that peds practices, I know, have been asking for, for a very long time, and I’m glad that we’re able to give it to them. What do you see for the future for healow within your office?
Alyssa: The big piece for us is just that effective communication, being able to communicate with parents how they want to. You know, you’re not bound by a phone call. They can see the message from us on their Apple watch, or you know, wherever they get those, and be able to communicate back with us when it’s most convenient for them. That’s probably the biggest thing that we’re looking forward to, is seeing how that evolves, and what more can come from that. We’re very excited to put scores on flip phones and all of those things online, too, and that helps decrease the number of phone calls, or even parents calling and asking for something, and us calling back and we leave a message. More communication, and all of that can be streamlined..
Brian: Alyssa, thank you so much for being with us today. We really appreciate your time and your insight into the healow product. And, if you’re interested in more eCW Podcasts, you can find that at my.eclinicalworks.com, or on iTunes or YouTube. Thanks again for joining us, and have a great day!