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How To Be Disruptive in Health Care IT: The Smart Scheduling Story

by Kyle Armbrester, VP of Business Development

What's the best way to disrupt the status quo in health care IT? Make some noise!

That’s exactly what four MIT engineers did to share their product, one that improves an important element of practice management. And today, they’re working with us at athenahealth to pilot that product to one of our largest clients.

Christopher Moses, CEO of Smart Scheduling, and his three co-founders, identified a major frustration providers face today: Patient no-show rates and late cancellations. These result in an inefficient use of time and resources within practices and often lead to blind overbooking, a strategy that just adds to the problem.

To address this issue, Chris and his team set out to create Smart Scheduling, predictive analytics software that would deliver providers insight into the likelihood for patient no-shows and tardiness, similar to the types of algorithms used for airline seating today. The program would ultimately provide practices with guidance and decision support for intelligent overbooking.

Chris and his team tapped a multitude of resources to launch Smart Scheduling, participating in the inaugural class of the MIT Founder’s Skills Accelerator, and later joining the Healthbox Accelerator Program. They also exerted a ton of effort into researching the field, going from clinic to clinic to learn more about particular pain points, uncovering practices’ underlying needs, and designing each element of the Smart Scheduling software based on interviews and informal conversations. During one visit with a clinic administrator to learn about scheduling policies and no-show rates, clinic staff were ready to escort Chris right out of the building--until the admin was kind enough to call them off, thankfully.

The Smart Scheduling team also tapped athenahealth via our More Disruption Please (MDP) program, attending both our annual MDP conference and our sponsored hack-a-thon, Hacking Medicine, this past year.

But how exactly did Smart Scheduling land a pilot with athenahealth? They went out there and drummed up demand from one of our largest and most beloved clients.

Here are the details: While part of the Healthbox Accelerator Program, Chris went to his mentor at Blue Cross Blue Shield with one major request that almost every HIT start-up puts at the top of their wish list: access to providers. After repeated efforts from the team at Blue Cross, Chris landed a golden opportunity just three days before the Accelerator Program ended, meeting with the COO and VP of Practice Management at Steward Medical Group, who just happens to be one of athenahealth’s largest clients. After Chris delivered the pitch, Steward loved the idea, and approached athenahealth to devise a way to integrate.

From there, Chris progressed quickly within the MDP program, working closely with athenistas to package and pilot his solution to Steward with levels of athenahealth integration. Chris and team say, "MDP represents a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and investors who believe in the democratization of technology creation in health care. Through a collaborative culture and a shared vision, athenahealth is shaking up the space by accelerating the build-measure-learn loop for these young companies, bringing rapid innovation from the bench (or laptop as is often the case in health IT) to the provider or patient’s doorstep."

We're proud that Chris was repeatedly amazed at our efforts to dedicate athenahealth resources to nurture his team’s efforts as they grow into a new force in health care, solving a key inefficiency crisis in patient scheduling.

The bottom line is this: Once you have a great solution, get people excited about it! Don't wait for others to beat the path to your door after you build the better mousetrap; you get out there and yell about it. To whatever extent possible, get the customer on your side.

One of the things that gets us excited at athenahealth is when we hear of proven demand (and even better, proven adoption) of an innovative idea. So go out there and disrupt!

To get started with our More Disruption Please (MDP) program, sign up at the MDP website and follow us on Twitter. As part of the MDP community, you'll receive updates on our annual conference, upcoming events and news from the innovation front.

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