The Digital Transformation Conversation
Co-Founder of PatientPop
July 31, 2019
The Digital Transformation Conversation
Many huge industries are still in the early stages of digital disruption, but innovative platforms, like PatientPop, are creating remarkable ecosystems for great change.
In this episode of Platform Players, PatientPop's Co-Founder, Travis Schneider, discusses how to effectively introduce digital disruption to a monolithic industry and successfully corner the market!
Yapstone presents PLATFORM PLAYERS….the sound of platform innovation at work.
What do you say to a little conversation about digital transformation? Platforms like PatientPop are helping millions of businesses create digital efficiencies and remarkable customer experiences and that get results.
Want to find out how they do it? Stay tuned! But first? This is your Platform Player FLASHBACK!
“Mrs. and Mr. Kervin, this is Dr. White. I am so sorry. We made a critical error. I missed an important test result and I need you to come into the office immediately.”
“What? How? How did this happen?”
Luke Kervin’s words hung in the air as he relayed this terrifying story to his friend and business partner, Travis Schneider.
“How DID it happen?” Travis asked.
“Their business technology is outdated.”
Kervin and Schneider were techies. In fact, they had built two successful ecommerce businesses together – the latest, which was sold to Meredith Brands. Digital transformation had touched every other industry – why not healthcare? Neither of them could fathom why.
“It wasn’t just about that test,” Kervin said. “It’s everything.
He had spent the last few months in the waiting rooms of obstetricians as his pregnant wife had her check-ups and he noticed things. There was no opportunity to review costs online, no online bill pay and no online scheduling.
“I know what you mean,” Travis said. “I got a postcard from my dentist the other day reminding me it was time for a cleaning. He sent a postcard!”
The partners knew the healthcare industry was in dire need of disruption – to improve the customer experience, yes, but also – so that critical test results weren’t missed, as they had been with Kervin’s wife.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
FLASH FORWARD! In 2014, Luke and Travis founded PatientPop, the only complete practice growth solution that empowers healthcare providers to thrive in the digital age. Today, the company has over 400 employees and was named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America, Silicon Review’s Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies, and Built in LA’s 2019 Best Places to Work.
Let’s get down to the NITTY GRITTY. Here’s your host, Kurt Bilafer!
Digital transformation is a great buzzword of our time, but it's for a good reason. So many huge industries have yet to be disrupted, and for the rest of us, well, we'll have to keep raising our digital gale. We're here in the [sounds like Boston, but later they say they're in Santa Monica] PatientPop office to learn a little something from the digital transformation master, Travis Schneider. Travis, thanks so much for being here.
Thanks, Kurt. It's a pleasure to be here.
I guess my first question is after you discovered this problem in the medical industry's digital experience, how did you figure out where to begin?
What led us eventually to discover the opportunity which became PatientPop is, we were kicking around a couple of different ideas, and we went out and started talking to doctors. We were asking them about their pain points, challenges, and things like that. One of the common themes that we kept hearing over and over again was, they all seemed to be struggling with the business side of their operation.
Kurt, you may or may not be aware of this, but most of these doctors regardless of specialty, regardless of practice size, they went to school for their area of specialty, and they're brilliant at what they do, but they didn't always learn business 101 along the way. Now, they jump out, they start their first practice, and at the end of the day, if they want that practice to thrive, they have to understand and do a good job at bringing customers in the door and providing a great experience if they come back.
All of these providers recognize that in this day and age, the front door of their practice has moved online. Patients today are spending more and more time interacting with a doctor via the web whether that's searching for them in Google or evaluating or vetting a referral on Yelp, they're having a hard time getting their arms around this shift in patient behavior.
What we noticed is, when we asked them, "What solutions are you using today to get your arms around this?" We kept hearing a version of the same story which is they're going out in the market, and they're trying to stitch together a bunch of different point solutions, half of which were never intended or ever built for healthcare. So, you literally have the pizza joint down the street using the same solution.
To make a long story short, Kurt, what came out of that was the vision for PatientPop is, let's go out and build the industry's first practice growth solution. It will serve as an all-in-one solution for the practice giving them everything that they need to rent online. More specifically, it will help them with things like new patient acquisition and patient retention.
How do you capture mindshare of an audience? In this case, doctors that their goal is probably just building the best practice they can. They're not necessarily trying to build a healthcare empire per se. Where do you go and how do you find them to make them aware that you have a solution with PatientPop, one. Two is, how do you educate them and get them engaged in the process so that they're seeing value from your offer?
We've built a pretty big team here at PatientPop since we started. In 2014 it was two guys at a Starbucks. Today, we're a team of over 400. A big part of that team is responsible for going out into the market all across the U.S. and getting in front of providers and educating them on PatientPop.
So, we have individuals that are part of a field sales organization that are available to meet with doctors face-to-face and walk them through an overview of the product. We have a team here in Santa Monica that can use WebEx and reach literally any doctor across the country and show them not just what PatientPop does, but we've built technology that can help the doctor better understand how they're doing currently online.
It's interesting. We call it a Competitive Scanner. What it really does is, we input the practice's information. In real time, this tool can show them, for instance:
• How well does Google store your website?
• How well are you doing today in terms of search engine optimization?
• When people go online looking for something relevant to your practice, are you showing up, or are you not?
• Let's look at your review profile. Are people leaving good reviews, bad reviews?
All of those data points we capture in this tool, and we can share that with the provider. We can also give them options for how to fix this on their own, but ultimately if they want someone to take care of it for them, that's when PatientPop can come into play.
To answer your question, we're reaching all of these doctors, and we're trying to be really helpful and constructive in terms of saying, "Here's where we've identified areas that if you were to improve could really benefit your practice. Here's how you can do that on your own and PatientPop can provide that for you." That educational way has been the best approach for dealing with providers. They don't want to experience a hard sell, so to speak.
I was going to say, the great thing is you're creating value right there, which is, "Here's how you're performing, and here are some solutions. Now, the question is, do you want to go off and do these on your own? Do you want to hire a series of experts to do this, or do you want to work with [??? 8:10] with PatientPop to address these issues?" Which is great.
Then I'm sure in addition to just increasing awareness there's this whole how you engage and delight your customers because people do live on mobile devices and everything seems to be text messaged. As you move through the sales process, and now that they're interested and they understand, how can they increase their top of funnel and awareness? How do you help them understand the value of just being where their customers are and engaging in a familiar approach?
One of the things we have behind the scenes, part of our offering, is a dashboard that tracks all of what we believe are the relevant metrics for the practice. We're able to track, for instance, appointment volume, appointment type, where and how patients are finding them online. That's data and insights that's never been available to providers in the past.
What we do is, we rely on that often once we've started working with the provider. We're a SaaS platform. For us, we're not generating any profit unless providers stay with us for the long-term. So, we use those types of metrics and that type of data to help continue to educate these providers once they've signed up and show them in a very transparent way both how we're delivering and how we're hopefully overdelivering. But also, we expose the areas where we need to focus more to improve.
Platform Players is brought to you by Yapstone, the premier payments provider for the platform economy. We want to take a little break from the conversation to give you a small snapshot of the medical industry as it pertains to digital transformation, and you might just see why PatientPop is making such an impact. All right. Here are your Five Fast Fun Facts.
1. Google notes that 5% of all of its searches are health-related.
2. Nineteen percent of all smartphone users have at least one health-related app currently on their device, according to Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group.
3. The Institute for Health notes that nearly a third, 31% of healthcare organizations have established social media guidelines in writing.
4. A HubSpot study found that the average cost per lead in healthcare is $286.
5. A Salesforce study revealed that 80% of customers believe the overall customer experience is just as important as the product or service provided.
And those are the facts. That was fun. Now, let's get back to our conversation.
You know, the challenge when you're selling innovation is that you're selling against the old way of doing things. So oftentimes, people don't see the cost of the old ways. They're like, "Yeah, I go into Google once a year or every six months." Or, "My niece does these things for me."
So, how do you quantify because I think this is really where, particularly in this S&B segment, where you're working with people that have less than 1,000 employees. So, the cost decisions are just different. How do you help them understand what is the business impact, or maybe what they're spending somewhere else, or what the cost of the business is by ignoring these things?
We look at a few different things when we're having that type of conversation with a potential customer. 1) We help them understand what they're spending today. So, before considering PatientPop, "What are you spending today?"
Often, it turns out to be a surprise for them because when you add up what they're spending every five years to build a new website, and what they're spending on the vendor every month to help them with reputation and what they're spending on the other vendor to do scheduling, and the other vendor to do social media. You take them through that process, and it's a bit of an awakening for them.
I think over the years, they accumulate these solutions, and they don't often think of them in their entirety. So, what we're able to do is say, "Here's what you're spending today and what it's costing you today. Here's PatientPop. It's an alternative, and usually, it's significantly less than that piecemeal approach."
Then the big one sort of goes back to the dashboard, which is we're able to monitor and quantify the appointments that we're driving for a provider. So, at the end of every month, when they write their check to PatientPop, we can show them, for instance, how many new appointments came in the door through our initiatives.
Then we work with them and help them understand what's the value of a patient today? What are you generating, not just on the first visit, but what's the lifetime value of that patient? You know what? There's still a whole lot more work that we need to do and that the industry needs to do to really understand that because they don't often think about their patients in that way.
In fact, I bet if you talked to nine out of ten providers tomorrow and asked them the value of the patient, they would probably give you a number of what they patient generates on their first visit. They don't really think about the lifetime value of that patient. So, we try to walk them through that exercise.
Then we quantify it and say, "Well, here's last month. We drove two new appointments, or 20, whatever the number is. Based on that calculation and what you've told us you generate on an average per appointment, here's the value of that.
In most cases, knock on wood, we're fortunate that we're showing a positive ROI. But sometimes we get into a situation where we work with a provider in a highly competitive market. We're only doing the foundation product for them, and you look at them and say, "If you want to excel here, you're going to have to invest more in A, B, C, and D to see a positive ROI. That's the approach that we take.
It's great that it's data-driven because obviously you're creating and capturing a whole host of data. Are you able to provide benchmarking data to just help them understand maybe for a practice of similar size and scope, maybe in the same geography or elsewhere, how others are performing?
Yep. Answering that specifically, Kurt, one thing that's interesting is – I mentioned this in the beginning, but my co-founder and I, having come from a background in e-commerce – I understand you were at Amazon as well. You're familiar with what I'm going to be talking about.
We never would have been successful in the e-commerce sector building solutions if they weren't totally influenced by the data that we were collecting from the different initiatives we were experimenting with. To win in e-commerce, you have to be 100% data-driven.
It was fascinating to us to see that in healthcare, anybody doing what we were talking about, they were the old school, Mad Men-era marketing agency types where it was more about handshakes, relationships, and pretty brochures than it was about really quantifiable data and metrics.
So, that was a big piece for us that was missing and where we saw the opportunity to really anchor PatientPop as a platform that's collecting the right data, and then adapting to that type of data.
How did you come up with the name PatientPop?
Great question. We sold our first business to a company up in the Bay Area called POPSUGAR. So, I think the word pop was sort of rattling around in our heads.
Number two, and this is the more serious one is, we deliberately did not want to position our company as a typical healthcare company. We wanted to be perceived as a tech-first company, a Silicon Valley-type company that was coming into healthcare to disrupt it. So, we wanted to have a name that captured that energy and that non-healthcare vibe. So, that was another reason.
Got it. For people that are going after platforms, what's your biggest piece of advice for those that pursue platforms? We talked a little bit about the importance of focus. You talked about the importance of testing and all those things you did to validate. You definitely followed the lean startup handbook. What other advice would you have towards people that are thinking about or actively building platforms?
I think one would be if you truly are in a position after you've done all of the homework that we've already talked about: the validation, the research, the testing, etc. If you truly find yourself in a position where you had an opportunity to go out and become a market leader with this platform, then go hard, go fast, go big. Otherwise, someone else is going to beat you to it.
That was something that we did from the very beginning. We raised the right amount of capital. We always had a go-big plan, and it was that push that we've really benefited from because as soon as you see success and get success, you're bound to have competitors chasing you.
So, I guess that would be the only additional piece of advice I would give someone is, once you've validated it and you feel like you've got it, don't play the short game. Go big and go long and go fast.
Platform Players is brought to you today by Yapstone, the premier payments provider for the platform economy. Well, our show's almost over, but we have just enough time to get up close and personal with our player. Yes, it's time for Tick Tock. Gentlemen, your time starts now.
What's your favorite book?
My favorite book. Well, I love any and all biographies. I always love to read about other people's stories and how they made it, and often walk away with at least one tidbit that helps me in my career and life.
Good. What's your favorite smell and sound?
Wow. My favorite sound. Well, I should probably say something cheesy like a family argument, but the truth is, I like the roar of a cool Harley motor. That's probably it.
Got it. Okay. What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
I would be sitting in Tuscany drinking a bottle of vino, and contemplating what venture to start next.
Nice. What do you still enjoy doing the old-fashioned way?
Meetings, I would say. All I mean by that is, to me, relationships are paramount to business and life. I think with all of the great technology at our fingertips sometimes you get away from that. Any opportunity I have to do something with someone in person is an opportunity I always go the extra mile and try to do.
Travis, I want to thank you again for joining Platform Players. I really enjoyed the conversation hearing about the journey of PatientPop. Obviously, there's still much to do, but there's been some great innovation, and we look forward to hearing what happens next.
Great. Thank you, Kurt, for having me on the show. I really appreciate the opportunity and hope to talk to you again.