The Cure for Wait Times
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So what we've done is we use automation and machine learning to understand equipment durations and notify patients ahead of time if they're appointments going to be starting on time.
Hello, this is Jim Trounson, Medvale is a community of innovative health care leaders, and we have our own podcast, Medvale Radio, where we interview our community members who we call Medvalistas. This podcast celebrates Medvalistas who are out there making the world a better place to live. My guest is one of those innovators.
Shelly Sanderford is founder of DOCPACE, D. O. C. P. A. C. E. One word Shelby is from New Orleans. She's here at a Medvale gathering in Denver at Catalyst Health Technology Innovation. We're on the third floor in the Halo Creative Lab studio at Angel, M.D.. She'll be welcome to Medvale Radio. Share with us your story of how you created DOCPACE.
My story actually starts back in undergrad when I was 21. I was working in health care administration. I was exposed to a lot of the internal pain points that hospitals face and the main pain point being patient satisfaction and the challenge to achieve high patient satisfaction scores.
So you were seeing a problem there as a senior in college?
Exactly. Interesting. So I wanted to dive deeper into this and really understand what was the root cause of lower patient satisfaction scores. So I did some research into the online rating platforms that patients use to rate doctors and when you dive deeper into those, the most heavily weighted metric is actually wait time. So I thought, all right, let's eliminate wait time. So you came up with this barrier to health care where patients actually being hurt by this problem that you were uncovering a problem is that patients actually are avoiding care because of the hassle to make an appointment, go to the appointment, wait for the doctor. So my bigger goal is to actually make health care as efficient and convenient as possible so that people make their health care more of a priority.
So if you can fix this, then more patients get needed care that they might have other or otherwise denied themselves. That certainly would make the world a better place to live. You can do something to help individuals to get healthier.
When I realized there was a problem around wait time, I set out to figure out a solution which now, five years later, the product is maintained in value of delivering wait time to patients. So what we've done is we use automation and machine learning to understand appointment durations and notify patients ahead of time if their appointments going to be starting on time.
Yeah, well, you know, there's a frequent flyer. I love it when I get those text messages from the airline saying the place on time or even which late is so helpful to know that it's late. That makes the flight experience so much better. So it sounds like that's kind of what you're doing for waiting rooms.
There's nothing more frustrating than arriving to the airport to find out. You have to wait two hours. Our fast paced world, we don't need to be wasting away hours.
I like that. So how does that play out? Take us through maybe a typical example of how that what that means for the patient. For the doctor.
So for the patient, they receive a text message ahead of time, letting them know your two o'clock appointment is now going to start at two thirty. Well, what happens on the provider's side that we can actually help them improve scheduling so we can go in and tell them how to schedule patients more efficiently so that they can optimize their flow of patients throughout the day?
Well, if I remember person prior conversation, we've had Shelby. You can usually work in one additional patient per day at no additional work for the physician.
Right. So part of that is because right now scheduling is done. Is that every patient is generalized. So typically, if you're a follow up appointment, you have 15 minutes or if you're a new patient, you have 30 minutes. But that's assuming that all patients are the same. So what we're doing is actually diving deeper into that and understanding more about patients and providers and trends so that we can schedule more accurately.
Well, another thought that I had is I've gotten to know you and it seems like you're almost redefining the waiting room, which is a horrible word anyway. It suggests that well, we expect patients to wait. And so knowing more about the wait time, they can wait at home. They can wait in the car. They can wait in the mall. So what you're doing is dramatically improving the patient experience.
That's what we like to say. So we are the cure for long wait times for improving transparency between the provider and the patient so that patients feel their time is valued. It's part of what leads to lower patient satisfaction.
And doctors are getting paid more on quality, which includes patient satisfaction. So as DOCPACE helps patients to be happy with their experience. That's going to get reflected in patient satisfaction scores. That is reflected in reimbursement rates.
Exactly. That's what actually triggered this whole idea. The revenue that's lost in Medicare reimbursements as a result of lower patient satisfaction scores.
How do you get paid? How do doctors buy this product? And what does that look like?
So we charge per provider. That provider is anyone that builds for patient care. So we could have nurse practitioners or fees on our platform as well.
Ok. And what do you charge?
A charge? Ninety nine dollars per month per provider.
Sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Yes. So the other piece of our our product is that we install. Screens into the waiting room that show the schedule of patients for the day and when they'll be seen. So a patient would arrive to the office and check in as they normally would. And they can look on the screen and see when they're expected to be seen. So let's say, for example, the patient arrives to the office and they have a 10 minute wait. They probably didn't receive a text message ahead of time. Is those typically go out? At longer wait times, like 30 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour. Well, that makes sense. So when the patient arrives to the office, they can at least see, oh, I only have to wait 10 minutes. It immediately alleviate stress for them.
Yeah, well, I like that. And on this play, in the waiting room, you have a de-identified patients. And I was intrigued by how you're getting around HIPPA to show what patients are waiting. How did you do that?
So we've taken the first three letters of the last name in the first letter of the first name, like the airlines. Exactly.
Shelby, you're twenty seven years old, right out of college. You started this company, so you've had like, oh, entrepreneurs, a lot of ups and downs. What's your proudest moment?
It's definitely a rollercoaster ride. And while I think it's really important as a founder to celebrate your bigger achievements, I've also found that it's really important to celebrate some of the smaller accomplishments of my my proudest moments is when I go into the office, share my story. Once I start explaining what DOCPACE does and how we can alleviate stress for her him, the reaction on their face typically switches in the middle of the conversation. And that's something really amazing for me to see as a founder, because I can directly see the impact they can have on another individual. Yeah, how about user?
The the poor receptionist is trying to navigate all this.
Exactly. So that's pretty incredible.
Well, Shelby is a 27 year old young woman. I am so impressed by what you've done already in your your short life, like you're very driven. You're you're very disciplined. Well, I've been intrigued by you as the founder or CEO of a sizable company. It seems like you're keeping your ear to the ground, that you're listening to the market. Sounds like you're spending a lot of time listening to the clients.
First is that I think it's really important to understand your customer and their needs and how you can help them. As a founder, it's inspiring to hear how you can help people. For me personally, it helps me keep pushing and. Working towards accomplishing what we're doing here at DOCPACE.
Well, any thoughts, Shelby, about why you became an entrepreneur?
I think mainly I was I really struggled with comprehending that there wasn't a good solution for this problem to begin with. And that motivated me to try and discover a way to help alleviate some of the stress, especially because this this product is alleviating a pain point for everyone involved in the experience. So we're helping patients. We're helping the staff. And we're helping providers as well.
Well, I think that a lot of the folks that are driven or motivated to join Medvale to become a med released, to have that sort of purpose, that is a higher calling because this is not easy work. And I think it takes a special person. I don't think you train entrepreneurs. I think you are one or you aren't. If not us, who is it going to be?
Right. I would agree with you. Especially in the fact that entrepreneurs have this internal driving force to make a difference or to have a greater impact to improve someone else's life.
Well, any advice to maybe a young woman out there that is feeling some of this tug? Oh, you've done this and are highly successful at it. Any advice to others that might aspire to this?
So I would say for all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, the biggest challenge is your own limiting beliefs. And as soon as you come realize that, you can just ditch those and take the first step. I think that's incredibly valuable and that has helped me so much in my journey. If you'd like to share a waiting room experience with us, I'd love to hear from you so that we can continue to help improve your experience.
So, Shelby, how could our listeners to Medvale radio get a hold of you if they want to follow up?
So if you want to learn more about DOCPACE, you can go to DOCPACE.COM. We'd also love for you to follow us on our social media platforms. And if you want to reach out to me personally, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com
Right. OK. Well, Shelby, thank you for sharing your story and participating as a Medvalista.
I'm glad you're one of us. Thank you, Jim, for having me here today. I'm so excited to be a part of Medvale. I'm, honored to be a part of this community.
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This 27-year old typifies the entrepreneurial spirit that is making a difference in our healthcare. Shelby while working in a hospital as an undergraduate was bothered that excessive and unpredictable amounts of time in waiting rooms were a barrier to patient satisfaction, and ultimately to accessing care. So she fixed it. Her company’s automation and machine learning enhances the patient experience and the provider’s reimbursement. You’ll be impressed by Shelby and her tips on staying motivated. And…since this interview DOCPACE has pivoted during the pandemic to actually eliminate waiting rooms for their clients!
what you'll learn:
- Unpredictable waiting times in a doctor’s waiting room are huge dissatisfiers.
- DOCPACE’s technology sends real time notifications to a patient’s cell phone with updates when the doctor is running late, like airlines do.
- Then TV screens in the waiting room show patients where they are in queue.
- If not eliminating waiting rooms altogether, DOCPACE is redefining waiting rooms so you can wait where you’d like—home, car, the mall.
- When patients feel their time is valued, patient satisfaction improves—and provider reimbursement climbs.
- Receptionists love this tool.
- Using DOCPACE’s artificial intelligence to analyze their patient flow, physicians can customize their schedules to see more patients with less stress.
- In order to stay motivated entrepreneurs need to celebrate small successes too.