We are celebrating our customers at MedStack. They are people and companies who are taking incredible steps to improving healthcare and care delivery for patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers. Our new column, Customer Stories, is dedicated to highlighting their journey, product, and success.
Have you ever been put on hold when making a doctor’s appointment? What about when calling your clinic about prescription refills or to ask a quick question? These represent inefficiencies in clinics that negatively affect a patient’s experience.
Avocare is working to solve that problem.
Booking appointments, requesting refills, or even asking quick questions often requires patience and effort for both patients and clinic receptionists. Ordinarily, patients have to call their clinic, which leads to patients not getting through due to very high call volumes. Almost always, there simply isn’t enough front office staff available to handle the significant number of calls.
Avocare is the product of a multi-year conversation between founder, Toronto-based Vikram Luthra and his wife, a family physician. Through their experiences and observations, they found that primary healthcare delivery was inefficient, ineffective and impractical, ultimately adversely affecting patients and healthcare practitioners.
Vikram and his wife found that technology wasn’t being optimized. “Technology used in primary care settings, especially in Canada, is often outdated and doesn’t offer great user experiences that are common in almost every other industry,” says Vikram.
In fact, a phone call still remains the main communication channel between patients and clinics. “This is despite the fact that the majority of remote communication today occurs over digital messaging mediums, such as SMS and messaging applications,” notes Vikram.
Avocare tackles this problem head on. The platform is working to improve communication between patients and their clinics, which will also improve accessibility and clinic efficiency. We chatted with Vikram about Avocare to learn more about the product and his journey.
What is Avocare?
Avocare is a SaaS platform that strives to modernize communication between patients and their primary care clinics, while also improving accessibility and clinic efficiency. Avocare has created the easiest and simplest path to two-way digital communication for both patients and clinics, enabling greater accessibility and satisfaction for patients, and time saving and productivity for clinics.
What does Avocare do?
Avocare enables patients to send messages through SMS messaging, Facebook Messenger and Avocare’s web app to their clinic to discuss anything they typically would over the phone. Patients can send messages any time of the day, 24/7.
Once a patient sends a message, they are immediately greeted by an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot, which gathers all relevant information clinic reception requires to take action on behalf of the patient. Once the conversation is complete, Avocare’s chatbot delivers a summary to the receptionist who accesses requests and messages through a simple and easy to use web app, which is completely secure and PHIPA compliant. Once a receptionist addresses the request, they have the ability to easily message the patient to follow up or let the patient know the request has been completed, all from the web app.
For both patients and clinic, the process takes a matter of minutes, or less in many cases. This creates efficiency for the receptionist, and better access for the patient.
Where can we find Avocare?
We are launching Avocare at our first beta clinic, Village Family Health Team, in early July 2017. If you think your primary care clinic could benefit, feel free to let them know about us, or contact us and we’ll happily reach out to them.
What are your major milestones and success?
We have generated significant interest from close to 20 clinics who are eager to start using Avocare following our beta period. Clinics we’ve talked to find that we are solving a significant pain point.
Where are you headed now? How is Avocare growing?
Our initial messaging product is a starting point to our significant growth plans. We believe that communication and in many ways delivery of healthcare, can be made better than it is now using technology. Our ultimate goal is removing barriers to getting great healthcare. Our evolution will involve us moving towards becoming a comprehensive and easy-to-use communication hub between patients and their clinics and healthcare providers.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
There is no shortage of challenges when you’re an early-stage startup. A major one was privacy and security requirements in the Canadian healthcare space. Partnering with MedStack allowed us to quickly and efficiently overcome compliance, security and privacy hurdles, which helped us immensely as we were building our product. It saved us time and considerable financial investment, allowing us to get to market in just a few short months and within a tight budget.