Launching a Clinic during COVID-19
Dr. Bowers had yearned for years to customize treatment to individual patients without bureaucratic constraints — and wasn’t about to let a pandemic stop him, despite the challenges.
“We’d worked so hard to prepare for launching an independent practice, and decided to go ahead,” Dr. Bowers says. “However, we knew that attracting patients would be much more difficult than during normal times. Also, we would have to run a truly efficient office in order to survive. It was a daunting prospect.”
Technology to the Rescue
Dr. Bowers selected Kareo as his software platform for the fledgling Bellevue Pain and Wellness, using Kareo Clinical as his EHR and Kareo Billing for his accounting. But he also needed a way to create and manage his online presence and perform search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic.
“I scoured the internet researching reputation management software. I read case studies and commentaries. PatientPop stood out for its track record helping practices become more successful. That’s what ultimately made the decision for me,” Dr. Bowers explains.
“I also liked the fact that PatientPop was a Kareo partner and the two worked together as a seamless system. Anything that would make us more streamlined was a plus.” Kareo and PatientPop have now merged to become Tebra, creating a single solution for end-to-end practice management, billing, and digital marketing automation.
1,500% Growth in Traffic, Exceptional Reviews
The impact of PatientPop’s website design and SEO service was evident immediately. “When our original website launched, it brought in about 450 visits a month,” Dr. Bowers says. “With PatientPop’s enhancements, we jumped up to 7,000. That’s a 15-fold growth in less than a year.”
The clinic also uses PatientPop to generate patient reviews online. “With a new practice, you don’t have an established reputation. So online reviews are of paramount importance. With PatientPop, everything is automated. We never have to manually request reviews from patients. The software does it all for us, following up on every visit and generating comments that can be posted online. It has been amazing,” Dr. Bowers notes.
The reviews have been amazing, too. Bellevue Pain and Wellness boasts a 4.9 rating out of a possible five stars, attesting to both the quality of its care and the effectiveness of its reputation management solution. “We typically get one review a week, which is a lot more than most practices. We read reviews carefully and take them very seriously. We’re in a highly competitive field, and the input helps hold us accountable for superior service.”
Clients also set up their own appointments through PatientPop. “Patients like it because they don’t have to phone us during office hours,” says Dr. Bowers. “They can go to the practice website and do scheduling whenever they want. We like it because it frees up a lot of time for our front-office staff.”
An End-to-End System
Bellevue Pain and Wellness uses Kareo Clinic as its EHR to manage the entire office workflow. “I appreciate the fact that Kareo is cloud-based, so we don’t have to worry about running our own server,” says Dr. Bowers. “It’s a great convenience having records available anytime, anywhere, and knowing that they are secure. If a patient reports that their pharmacy is out of a particular medication, I don’t have to go into the office to write a new script. I can do it from home, or wherever I might happen to be.”
The clinic uses Kareo Engage to send automated appointment reminders by text. “The texts relieve our front-office staff from making lots of phone calls. More importantly, they have cut our no-show rate by half. One patient told us that he found the texts annoying, so we turned them off for a while. Then no-shows went way up. We figured that the rare patient objection was a good trade-off for lessening our own frustration with empty appointment slots.”
When it came time to select billing software, Bellevue Pain and Wellness followed its biller’s recommendation to adopt Kareo. “In medical school, they don’t teach you anything about billing, insurance or coding,” Dr. Bowers comments. “I had never run my own business, and had no idea how to get paid. I felt kind of like a deer in the headlights. I figured we should go with the industry leader that was the easiest to use, because we needed all the help we could get. We’ve been very satisfied with Kareo.”
After only ten months, Bellevue Pain and Wellness had an opportunity to bring in another physician. But was it too soon to expand? “He was definitely the right person, but I wasn’t sure it was the right time. So I used Kareo to take a long hard look at our finances, and was convinced that we could make it work. I could never have made this decision without sophisticated analytics at my fingertips, or confidence in the overall efficiencies of our platform, which save us time and money at every turn,” Dr. Bowers notes.
“We get calls all the time inviting us to switch software. But we don’t even consider it. Our system works exactly the way it’s supposed to, is reliable, and doesn’t cause us any headaches. I doubt that we’d be where we are today, after only two years and during a pandemic, without Kareo and PatientPop.”
What advice would Dr. Bowers give to someone thinking of opening a new practice?
“Accept that it’s going to be ‘interesting’ for a while. You’ll probably be living off of your savings at first, so you’re leery about making major up-front investments. However, you should rethink this hesitancy when it comes to technology. Calculate what it will cost you per hour to do things manually, and you’ll see how much money technology will save you. Look for technology that is integrated, because transferring data from one system to another wastes a lot of time. Technology helps you spend less time on the business side of running a practice, creating more bandwidth for your real purpose: providing personalized, compassionate patient care.”