Healthcare’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020: Updox

Medical Application Directory - Developer SDK | DrChronoUpdox commits itself to “cultivating an environment that is diverse and inclusive—with equal opportunities for everyone.” Updox is designed to organize all patient communications, secure and SMS texts, secure email, e-faxes, referrals, reminders, and even video chat in one engagement platform and one inbox.

It’s solutions are used by more than 350,000 users and 125 million patients, and are integrated with more than 100 electronic health records, according to the company.

Updox is a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant solution offering a broad set of capabilities that increase patient engagement, improve internal productivity and increase revenue. Updox is based in Dublin, Ohio.

What is the single-most innovative technology you are currently delivering to health systems or medical groups? 

Updox Video Chat. Pre-COVID, most practices never considered telehealth, as they thought it was complex, expensive and poised no reimbursement opportunities. COVID changed that. We’ve entered a new era of virtual care where more and more services will be provided remotely, and soon, telehealth will be essential, not a “nice to have.”

Updox made telehealth implementation simple with streamlined training, unbundling the solution to adapt to individual practice needs and increased customer service offerings so providers could get started within hours. Driven by the need and desire to continue social distancing, convenience and growing adoption by physicians, telehealth is fast changing the world of healthcare.

How is your product or service innovating the work being done in these organizations to provide care or make systems run smoother?

Updox is the place for virtual care and complete healthcare communications. Committed to simplifying the business of healthcare, Updox offers a broad set of innovative capabilities for patient engagement, provider communications and internal productivity that work together in a secure, user-friendly, easy-to-use platform. This includes our Video Chat solution.

Unlike others in the market, with Updox, healthcare providers can access a full suite of applications including secure text messaging, video chat, patient portal, appointment scheduling, automated reminders, on-demand patient messaging, credit card payments, and health alerts – all in one place. This drives improved outcomes through more efficient communications and better care coordination. Additionally, with the Updox telehealth platform patients can connect with their own physicians instead of someone unfamiliar to them – without needing to download any special apps. Healthcare partners benefit through improved relationships with patients and other providers, increased revenues, reduced costs, and enhanced business efficiencies.  

What is the primary need fulfilled by the product or service?

Hospitals, health systems and pharmacies across the nation are using Updox’s platform to provide comprehensive and continuity of care — during a pandemic — that is secure, safe and personalized. The main difference in Updox’s telehealth solution is that we connect patients with their own trusted doctors (vs. Teladoc and others that match you with an unfamiliar physician in the queue). Especially during times of uncertainty, we know patients prefer seeing their own doctor. In fact, a recent Updox patient telehealth survey found that 49% of patients prefer being able to see or speak with a healthcare professional of their choice.

What is the ROI of said product or service? Provide real examples of verifiable ROI of the product or service when used in or by a health system or medial group. 

For patients, telehealth offers a plethora of benefits, including cost savings, convenience and safety from potential exposure to infection.

A study from The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that the net cost savings per telemedicine visit was calculated to range from $19–$121 per each visit (vs. an in-person visit).

For health systems, telehealth implementation is proven to  save practices time and money. For example, practices can save an average of $200 per patient by reducing costs associated with missed or canceled patient appointments. In addition, according to a 2017 study, missed patient appointments cost the U.S. healthcare industry $150 billion per year. With the help of telehealth solutions – like secure video chat services – practices can recoup these losses and easily facilitate follow-up appointments, consultations and ongoing chronic condition treatments.

During COVID, many practices would have gone out of business without telehealth. For example, one Updox customer stated telehealth allowed them to see 75% of their normal patient volume — despite the pandemic. And, a separate customer reported that Updox allowed him to conduct more than 600 visits via Updox telehealth in the two months, and approximately 98% of his caseload has been via telehealth.

Provide specific examples of implementation and outcomes use cases. 

Updox was designed with practices in mind, providing simple registration, implementation and training processes, allowing staff to continue their focus on patients while streamlining their daily administrative tasks. Here’s what our customers have to say about the implementation process:

Wendy Grimes, executive administrator, Lone Star Psychiatric Services: “Updox offers great training and tools to make sure you are using the solutions correctly and answering any questions you have. They made implementation so easy and they are so quick to hop on and solve any problems that come up. They offer online guides to use on your own but are also there to hold your hand when needed.”

Danny Butler, MD, a solo internal medicine practitioner, joined the Aledade Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and learned of Updox through the recent partnership between the two organizations: “Working with Aledade has been great for our practice. They had reviewed 20 or more telehealth vendors and selected Updox so I didn’t hesitate. They were right on point with recommending Updox. It is easy to use. For the sake of my patients and staff, I needed to move fast. We were trained at 8 a.m. and testing it with patients by 10:30 that same morning. We’ve used it ever since.”

Who are some of the clients and organizations served by the company. Name them.

Recently, Updox experienced a significant spike in demand, onboarding more than 10,000 new customer users to its HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution in just two weeks. Today, the company facilitates more than 45,000 telehealth visits per day between patients and their doctors (a 20,262% increase since early March).

Updox is continuing to support thousands of healthcare organizations and companies. A list of a few includes:

How has the innovation advanced the field of healthcare or the practice of care?

When it comes to telehealth, the tech industry has historically missed the mark on what outpatient providers need. First-generation telehealth platforms were expensive and complex and required users to download special apps. They were cumbersome to use and frustrating for providers and patients. Updox developed our live video solution on the exact scale that providers need. They can use it straight from their smartphones/tablets. No app to download. No learning curves.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare providers felt telehealth wasn’t necessary or perhaps arrived before its time. Some held back because of perceived complexity, data security or cost. Now with the recent regulatory and reimbursement changes, many are reconsidering their positioning and looking for tools that meet their needs. Today, physicians have turned to Updox Video Chat because it’s easy to implement and enables care team members to quickly triage patients and keep their communities safe.

Now as both patients and physicians have become more accustomed to the convenience of telehealth, virtual care will no longer be a “plus” or “nice to have” — it will become a requirement for practices to stay in business.

How is the innovation changing lives — specifically? 

During COVID, patients were able to receive medical care safely and securely — and practices were able to stay in business and maintain their revenue streams. Telehealth was one of the main factors that helped (and is continuing to help) flatten the COVID curve. The remote capabilities of telehealth allows practices to triage patients, reducing foot traffic and maintaining social distancing procedures.

As we examine the post-COVID world, patients and providers alike have realized the ease of use and convenience telehealth delivers. That said, use has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, according to a patient survey from Updox conducted by Harris Poll, telehealth is here to stay.

Nearly half of Americans (42%) report having used telehealth services since the pandemic first began. When asked what they like about using telehealth services, convenience (65%) and limited exposure (63%) top the list. Beyond the pandemic, if patients are to continue using telehealth, convenience and being able to see or speak with a healthcare professional of their choice (49%) is of utmost importance.

What is the company’s go-forward strategy? 

Our goal is to continue to develop and adapt our solutions to meet provider and patient needs, both now and in the future. This includes delivering a comprehensive virtual care offering that is convenient, efficient and effective for providers and that results in increased patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes for individuals.

What’s next, which problem is the organization working on now, and in the future? 

Another main focus for Updox currently is how to create the touchless doctor’s office of the future (think virtual check-in and waiting rooms, a paperless office, secure texting, online forms and payments, and more).

What are the most significant lessons learned by delivering the innovation, product or service to health systems or medical group?

Emphasizing an earlier point, COVID forced the industry to rapidly implement telehealth. Here are a few testimonials to illustrate how telehealth saved practices from shuttering their doors.

Phil Boucher, MD, with Lincoln Pediatric Group: “Prior to COVID-19, we had an idea of what telehealth might look like in our practice. We knew we wanted to offer it at some point in the future but there was never any push to start. That changed quickly. We needed to see patients but didn’t want them to come and sit in waiting areas or exam rooms. We knew patients needed us. We had to figure it out quickly. How do we structure visits? How will our workflows change for staff? What technology do we need? How do we collect histories, notes and charges? We already had a partnership with Updox and knew of their telehealth solution so it was a great fit for our practice. With Updox, we were able to get started with telehealth in just days.”

Allan McCorkle, MD, a psychiatrist and owner of Lone Star Psychiatric Services: “Updox worked out extremely well for us. It allowed us to see patients immediately and, plain and simple, we wouldn’t have been able to see patients without it. I’ve seen firsthand the difference that a telehealth call can make. It really helps people. I’ve referred several colleagues to Updox because I know the service works.”

Danny Butler, MD, a solo internal medicine practitioner who runs his practice from two locations: “Even reimbursement is going well. Honestly, it’s better than we thought. Both private insurance and Medicare are fine. We’ve had no problems with billing. Telehealth works for us because we still need to take care of our patients in ways that don’t compromise their health or our staff. We still have to deliver care. Updox enabled us to balance COVID fear with the need to care for and monitor patients.”

Michael Farrar, IS Business Solutions and Security Manager, Central Ohio Primary Care (the nation’s largest independent primary care practice): “If it wasn’t for telehealth, we wouldn’t be able to provide excellent levels of patient care for 400,000 patients across central Ohio during the pandemic. Updox was a huge part of that. They make telehealth simple and secure.”

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