This weekend I dived headfirst into “Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care” by Jonathan Bush, the CEO of Athena Health.

As I read I reflected about the disruption that eHealth Technologies is attempting to bring to the referral market in a partnership with MGH.

If you’ve ever had been referred out by your Dr’s office you get the concept.  It starts with you in the exam room in your doctor’s office wearing a stylish paper gown.  The Dr tells you the diagnosis and recommends a plan of care that involves you going to see a specialist.

When you get to the discharge desk things get confusing fast.

Under the hood there’s a lot going on between your Dr’s office and the hospital.  First and foremost, basic demographic and insurance data must be exchanged.  The hospital will check eligibility and make sure they are going to get paid.  They’ll want prior records from the refering Dr, as well as a questionnaire filled out.  Is your care related to workers comp or motor vehicle accidents?  Do you have allergies, and on, and on, and on.

This is a lot to do over the telephone, and data can get lost.  Worse still, there’s nowhere for the referring physician’s office to go to check what was entered.  Literally everything involves picking up the handset and talking.

There’s a need for some disruption here.

In 2013, eHealth Technologies partnered with MGH to build a better way.  We built a new web system entitled the “Referral Gateway” that provides a seamless experience for referring physicians and hospital intake coordinators.  The intent was to get sticky with these providers offices.  Make it easy for them to make referrals so they would refer to the hospital more often.

A key element of this system is usability.  To be of value it had to be better than picking up a phone.  We worked with MGH and a specialist group to refine the UX.   We looked at every field and every screen.  We refined, and refined, and it worked.  In 2013 we went live with version 1 and started to see our first users.

Today, a range of physicians outside the MGH network use our system to speed up the process of getting their patients through the intake process.  We’re capturing analytics data about the referring providers and offering this back to the hospitals through our partnership with Domo.

Our customers can finally see where their referrals are coming from and market their services accordingly.  Quality of service can be assessed and reported on as a daily KPI to make sure the hospital is meeting their end of the bargain.

Have we “taken down” the telephone?  Not yet.  But one day we will.

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