January 13, 2015|Categories: More Disruption Please
Most problems in health care aren’t sexy – big and audacious, yes, but they often don’t require advanced technology to fix. Why would they when communication and care coordination are still riddled with outdated processes? Many medical offices and hospitals are still storing paper files in big cabinets and transmitting them via fax. We’re still figuring out how to aggregate and securely share a patient’s data to facilitate coordination and reduce duplicate testing – so where do you start in an industry that desperately needs to catch up to those that passed “Web 1.0” long ago and are smoothly forging ahead into the future?
Health care needs entrepreneurs steeped in the workflow of the frontline provider, committed thinkers who will work alongside clinicians to develop practical solutions to practical problems. Walk into athenahealth’s MDP (More Disruption Please) Accelerator space and you get a peek into the thought factory where the next generation of health IT companies are doing just that, solving day-to-day problems in novel yet appropriate ways. I know this firsthand: My company, Smart Scheduling, is the current resident of the MDP Accelerator offices.
Before I share our experiences at athenahealth, first some background on Smart Scheduling: We bring improvements to the appointment process by building a data-driven approach to patient scheduling. Why wait to get an appointment—inside the office or out—when you should simply be getting better access to care when it’s needed most? We’re applying machine-learning algorithms to predict appointment demand and patient cancellations, helping providers offer more flexible schedules that can improve same-day access, optimize schedule density, and increase practice revenues. It’s a service that helps both patients and providers.
In 2012, we spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the location for our first office, on an abandoned floor of the old MIT Sloan building, complete with holes in the wall and old furniture we salvaged from a loading dock. Later, we moved into the 5-star hotel of office spaces, the Cambridge Innovation Center.. And now our team of five has landed on campus at athenahealth.
In each location, the community has been more important than the office décor, and the MDP Accelerator tops them all, with a fantastic business partnership and direct access to product experts, and sales and account management teams. Within the first month, Smart Scheduling rapidly extended our footprint to include some high-profile athenahealth clients and landed dozens of inbound leads from athenahealth customers interested in joining our beta trials.
From a technology standpoint, we are delighted that a single API integration with the athenahealth network gave us access to their loyal customer base of over 59,000 providers. In a cottage industry with over 500 electronic health record vendors, that kind of exposure within a beachhead market, with a single, simple integration, was of paramount importance.
On a practical level, because we are so close to athenahealth’s industry experts, we often don’t have to send tons of emails and set up meeting after meeting. We walk through campus, bump into someone over lunch and can get the tips and access we need, whether it’s refining UI/UX design, landing a customer intro from an account manager, or getting more data added to the API.
Solid relationships with great people are driving our product and business forward. It takes a village to raise a startup – and with the MDP Accelerator, we’ve found a collaborative ecosystem that is helping us grow our company, one delighted customer at a time.