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PRACTICESUITE Enabling Patient Driven Healthcare Technology
Chithra Vijayakumar
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
"INEFFICIENT AND DYSFUNCTIONAL." That's how Vinod Nair likes to describe the healthcare climate that prevailed in the early 2000s. For the Founder and CEO of PracticeSuite, who had spent a good part of his life working for tech giants including Oracle and Juniper, the scenarios in medical facilities reflected redundancy, lost productivity, and the cumbersomeness of preserving paper-based records. "That was the case earlier this millennium," says Nair. "However, a raft of sea changes was underway in the healthcare industry." Technology advances became a low-hanging fruit for smaller practices, as they were once for large establishments-pushing distinct software applications into healthcare facilities particularly ambulatory care settings, resulting in too many vendors offering too many solutions.

Meanwhile, the challenge to sew these disparate systems into a single entity was increasingly becoming more complex than ever. It was this predicament, combined with the yearning to become an agent of change in the healthcare sector that spurred the genesis of PracticeSuite. When Nair finally bowed out to his corporate life in 2004, little did he know, that the company he founded would one day achieve a feat that only a handful of companies can claim to be in the swim of. At its core, PracticeSuite is a healthcare information technology company making the life of a physician plain sailing. "We accomplish this by replacing standalone legacy applications with our integrated modular platform that allows our clients to scale as and when their practice changes or grows," explains Nair. "Our primary focus is on the ambulatory care market and we cover over 155 specialties, mostly private practices and large medical groups."

"As patients take over a greater share of their healthcare cost, the selection of the physician shifts over to the patient. This makes managing a physician's presence online a necessity. Our software allows doctors to automate their online review management"

Not Disease care, but Healthcare

While balancing the equation among three key variables- patient, physician, and payor- Nair's company has identified the burgeoning costs associated with healthcare that makes patients hesitant over seeking medical attention. Per capita expenditure in 2014 was as high as $9,403 in the U.S., which is 160.10 percent higher than the global average. "Last year, an acute hike in federal healthcare expenditure facilitated full play of the Obamacare program that entitles citizens to a free annual physician visit. Such reforms have evidently become the first step toward transforming healthcare as an industry from traditional Insurance-based to patient-driven paradigms. Meanwhile, the inefficiencies faced while reimbursing Accounts Receivables (AR) from insurance companies is becoming a sore point for physicians. Nair elucidates a common scene that every administrator or physician can relate to in hospitals and medical clinics. "Very often a huge amount of patient's balance is found to correspond to an invalid insurance policy or with unpaid due amount, months after the medical visit." In such cases, it becomes too late for the offices to recoup its losses, due to time issues and complexities in reimbursements processes.

PracticeSuite's indigenous platform that has been organically constructed for the cloud and matured over a period of four years before its launch in 2009, is making headway along this trail, by managing the end-to-end patient lifecycle. From a granular perspective, the PracticeSuite platform encompasses the soup-to-nuts elements including appointment scheduling, prescriptions, revenue cycle management, denial and collections, secure communication, EHR, medical CRM, and the recently added online review management. Built on the cloud, PracticeSuite users-physicians and concierge managers-now have a wealth of information at their disposal. "Our clients are reaping remarkable benefits with the cloud platform-anytime, anywhere, any device access that enable patient care like never before, along with insurance information, with continuity of care and co-ordination of care across other platforms," states Nair. "Workflow alerts for unpaid patient balances, overdue preventive visits, and appropriate health maintenance advisory during clinical encounters to aged and expiring insurance claims have renewed practices workflow improving patient care, staff productivity, reduced cost, and better cash-flow."

All aboard the Cloud

PracticeSuite's cloud architecture ensures true ubiquity of information, where physicians and patients alike can access information remotely. "Patients can schedule appointments, or send emails to the consulting doctor anytime of the dayfor discussions regarding health, pull up clinical summaries and make online inquiries to staff about non clinical issues," adds Nair. On the other hand, a physician can access the central repository of practice and patient data from mobile, hospital, or from home. Oftentimes, a physician's productivity that costs hundreds of dollars per hour is squandered away due to missed appointments. To avoid such instances, reminders are sent to patients' smartphones about impending doctor visits, with options for cancelling or rescheduling the appointments. This greatly increases optimal utilization of physician's on-call time.

To paint a more vivid picture about how PracticeSuite works in real time, Nair illustrates a recent incident involving a Florida based healthcare institution. The client was facing a severe dip in its financial standing, owing to a substantial outstanding AR, amounting to almost millions of dollars, with insufficient information on claims status and inadequate time to follow-up on the same. Upon evaluating a list of RCM providers, the client settled on PracticeSuite's platform for its prolific scale of functionalities. "When we entered into the picture, we diligently worked with the management, reinstating the healthcare institution back to its full glory within a period of 90-180 days, by reclaiming a great deal of insurance money," extols Nair. Customers can opt for the best PracticeSuite engagement model that fits the bill; the software can either be subscribed or contracted as an outsourced process.

Having successfully marked its footprint in the healthcare market, by working with several prominent medical practices, billing companies, large solution vendors, and RCM firms on a national scale, PracticeSuite as a company stands in loftier heights, positioned as one of the pioneers in true integrated cloud systems. From a market standpoint, Nair predicts that the industry is marching toward more patient-driven healthcare and PracticeSuite is geared up to take on the reins from there. "Companies that will survive in five years from now are the ones that have built an all-encompassing platform that can enable doctors' office to seamlessly connect with patient irrespective of time and place," he says. Such highly distributed environments call for utmost levels of security so as to gain trust from its end-users when disclosing confidential messages regarding patient health. Even the smallest leak could wreak havoc for the healthcare organization as a whole, causing serious damage to reputation. "At PracticeSuite, we adhere to compliance standards such as HIPAA and enforce appropriate layers of security, such as firewalls and authenticated security clearance," affirms Nair.

What's in Store?

A serial entrepreneur, Nair, whose previous stints at Fortune 500 companies revolved around system improvement and product engineering, is constantly thinking of ways to ameliorate PracticeSuite's product portfolio. "Our vision is to go beyond healthcare and as a cornerstone to this, we have made heavy investments of resource and time into our newest module: online review management," comments Nair. For any healthcare provider, success lies in half parts on its core proposition: patient care. Equally important is its brand value and how the establishment is perceived upon by the layman. In the sprawling age of internet, oftentimes inequitable reviews stay on the web, casting an unfavorable image of the client online. PracticeSuite's online reputation management aims to balance these scales and give every single visitor an opportunity to record his experience with the client.

The company has plans to broaden its solution coverage to other domains, such as legal, accounting, real estate, and a broad spectrum of cross-vertical in the immediate years. But for now, the focus is on the healthcare stream. The rise of mobile practice, online medicine, and telemedicine will collectively transform the physician-patient paradigm to change from one that treats disease, to manage health and wellness. For now, PracticeSuite has set the wheels in motion with bated breath for an era where doctors can practice medicine the way they see fit.
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