The Woman Who’s Reinventing Digital Patient Access
Nearly a decade and a half ago, Dikla Ranen started Odoro, a company that created digital patient access solutions for health systems. Dikla is a true pioneer in digital patient access, and one of the few female entrepreneurs in digital health. She built Odoro from the ground up without any venture capital. Dikla recently sold her company to Clearwave, a technology pioneer counterpart focused on a streamlined check-in experience and eligibility checks since 2004.
In this interview with Dikla, we explore the compelling logic for combining these two companies, including the impact of the pandemic on digital health and the future of the industry.
Q: Why did you decide to sell Odoro, a company you started 14 years ago and must feel emotionally connected to?
DR: It wasn’t that easy to sell Odoro, to be honest. It was a leap I felt was best for the company, after a journey of more than a decade. Healthcare is seeing a dramatic transformation right now, accelerated by COVID-19 and its obvious challenges. I am seeing many practices and facilities responding to this moment by revisiting their current systems and processes – identifying opportunities to provide a more responsive, more cohesive, and reassuring experience for their patients. I believe the combination of Clearwave and Odoro is exactly what the industry needs for this transformation. It is the right destination for the company I poured my heart and soul into.
Q: How do Odoro and Clearwave complement each other?
DR: Joining forces with Clearwave allows us to offer a single platform for practices to engage with their patients. Odoro comes with 14 years of experience in scheduling.
Back when it started, digital scheduling was an innovative solution for early adopters. Now it’s a necessity. Clearwave has been maturing their brand concurrently and are the market leader in self-check-in and eligibility. This is a classic example of synergy; together, we provide a market-leading platform through all access points – from physician search and online scheduling to eligibility checks and self-check-in.
Q: Do you think that patients are more aware of new healthcare technology due to COVID-19?
DR: Yes, in the last year, patients have seen many ways of offering a contactless experience to maintain safety. Throughout the patient-engagement journey, every touchpoint is now more important than ever. Every interaction plays a critical role in shaping the patient’s experience and, ultimately, defining their outcomes. They need this reassurance that their safety is a priority with their provider. I know this is a mission that we share with Clearwave’s leadership. Both of our cultures have always put the patient first.
When we first met Clearwave’s leadership, we were delighted to find a company that sees the market and whose culture is so similar to ours. The synergy was beyond the product level.
Q: Where do you think digital scheduling is headed?
DR: The market wants a one-stop-shop – a single vendor that can help create a seamless patient experience as effortlessly as possible.
But no one wants to sacrifice expertise across all areas for mere convenience. The future is single patient access platforms that adjust to different workflows, available through all access points (call centers, portals, web, or chatbots), that all have the same organizational logic.
Q: Will the short-term trends triggered by COVID-19 become an ongoing reality?
DR: No doubt. Patients have been introduced to the benefits of virtual care, and they love it. That’s not going away. Related to that is the rapid doctor-patient interaction that telehealth enables. Even when we eventually return to normalcy post-COVID, patients will continue to seek immediate access – not just because of the convenience, but because it reduces stress.
Q: What about contactless interaction?
DR: When contagion is not a factor, some patients will want to return to the traditional experience. They like to say hello to front desk staff and have a pleasant conversation. But younger patient populations will tend to stick with digitally effective, contactless approaches.
Q: I’ve been reading a lot about physicians struggling financially, particularly in areas that are already underserved. How concerning is this?
DR: I lose a lot of sleep over this. There are just so many communities that are struggling economically that are also seeing hospitals close while they lose the next generation of physicians. We work with many FQHCs – Federally Qualified Health Centers – who have a mission to support these communities. I recently wrote a blog post about this that describes how critical these institutions are, and how we support their incredible mission.
Q: Do you think business communication platforms like Slack are creating new communication expectations that medical institutions need to get better at satisfying?
DR: There’s no doubt that the amplification of our lives, individually and at work, has inspired the healthcare world to up their game. You can’t meet patients’ changing needs – and I am talking about all demographics, not just younger people – with yesterday’s technology. An AARP study found that 42 percent of seniors are streaming movies and other content.
Q: Since you started in digital health, have you noticed that technology’s sophistication in medical institutions has improved and grown competitive with enterprises in general?
DR: Yes, they were initially pressured by the macro trends, but they’re with the program now. Just think about it – ten years ago, calling a doctor’s office was the only way to schedule an appointment.
Over the years, practices began adding appointment request forms to their websites, but the technology lagged behind the intention. Patients were frustrated because scheduling was not immediate, and they had to wait for a call back – a very cumbersome process.
We need to remember that patients are still consumers, just in a different setting, and they are used to satisfying all their needs online, from food delivery to booking an Airbnb. They are expecting the same experience from their healthcare providers.
Q: What does the data say?
DR: According to Black Book Market Research, 97% of patients today demand online scheduling, and 90% say they might even abandon their provider if they don’t provide this option. It’s incredible, but understandable.
With this strong push from patients and with COVID boosting the adoption of digital patient access, many practices started adding online scheduling.
Q: Is there resistance?
DR: Yes, and it’s not 100% wrong. There are a lot of imperfect solutions out there. Many are flawed.
I urge buyers to make sure they work with a provider who considers their preferences and workflows. When done correctly, online scheduling won’t mess up their schedule. On the contrary, we respect their schedules and honor physicians and patients at the same time.
Q: I would suspect that when more and more people are vaccinated, there will be a rush of patients who didn’t visit their physicians in person during the pandemic. What do you expect the effects of this “Pandemic Pause” will be?
DR: Yes, there will be an outpouring of demand that will create more tailwinds for Clearwave and Odoro. Looking at the future state was one of the drivers for this combination. Physicians and patients will have a lot of catching up to do.
Clearwave is the healthcare industry’s most comprehensive patient engagement platform. Its technology has empowered specialty practices and health systems to improve profitability, productivity and patient access since 2004. Healthcare organizations choose Clearwave for its ability to simplify patient scheduling, expedite patient intake, automate insurance eligibility verification and create true financial transparency for both patient and practice. Clearwave helps practices accelerate cash flow and improve digital patient access. The company is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and has an office in Tel Aviv, Israel. For more information, visit www.clearwaveinc.com.
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