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Here's Why Connecting Patients and Providers Matters

Posted on Mar 16, 2017 by Jim Higgins

    Recently, the new editor of our blog told me we were going to start telling our personal patient stories. We’re going to let people know that we aren’t just here to make money. We’re here because we want to change the patient-provider relationship. We’re here because we are patients. She asked me to share my story, and tell the world why I do what I do.

    I’ll admit that I have been hesitant in the past to share my personal story. I didn’t talk about it for a long time. Its always emotional when I talk about it, but I think that is ok now. It’s part of who I am, and I feel like I can own my story and be comfortable sharing it.

    A Changing Vision

    Connecting patients and their healthcare providers through textingI’d be the first person to say that I didn’t start out with an altruistic vision to save healthcare. I did have a vision though. I saw the potential of text messaging and how it could improve communication for healthcare providers. Text wasn’t in the US yet. It was in Asia and in Europe, but it hadn’t hit here. Because of that no one else seemed to see the potential, but I really did.

    I was sure that a day would come when people would see phone calls as intrusive. We would all be texting. Even my wife thought I was a little crazy, which I am. I was going to show the world that I was right and that I could build this company on a new technology that didn’t really exist yet. And we did it. We built the first SMS gateway. We sent the first healthcare text message.

    It wasn’t until later that my vision for the future changed. I developed a bigger picture view of how we really could use technology to turn healthcare on its head and make it better for patients. It changed because I had an experience that every parent fears. When my daughter was about two years old she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Her hair started to fall out, and eventually it was time to just shave it. I will never forget coming home from work one day and seeing her running around the front yard completely bald. She was as happy as ever, but as my eyes met my wife we both felt our hearts drop. To this day, she still has no hair, and her condition is still undiagnosed.

    Like Living on an Island

    It’s tough when you don’t have answers. She would present with symptoms, and we would go to the emergency room. We could be there for 18 hours and still not know what was going on. She was very sick and losing her hair. One doctor said, “We need to rush her into emergency surgery,” but another one said, “No, that’s not what we need to do.” It was like chaos.

    We saw so many specialists, and she was misdiagnosed several times. They said Lupus and Leukemia, but it was neither. We often couldn’t get in to see someone unless she was sick, and we went to ER. It was overwhelming and scary, and we felt very disconnected from the healthcare providers who were supposed to be helping us. It’s like we were living on an island, a patient island, totally disconnected from our providers.

    Eventually we had to come to peace with the lack of answers and resolution, and find a way forward for our family. But at the same time, it changed my vision for the future. I didn’t want people living on that patient island when technology—the technology I had built—could change that.

     It's like we were living on an island, a patient island, totally disconnected from our providers.

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    How Technology Makes a Difference

    For some, just a simple communication makes all the difference. There were times when I would have given anything for a simple email or text about auto-immune, anything to feel a connection with our providers. Something that could make us feel a little less alone.

    We can do that for people. We can give providers the tools to stay in contact with their patients from sending those text reminders to newsletter to surveys, and now, real-time text conversations. We are constantly moving the needle on improving that patient-provider relationship. Today, 80 million patients are connected to healthcare providers through Solutionreach. We’re doing it because we know why it matters to feel connected.

    Jim Higgins

    Jim Higgins

    Jim Higgins is the chief executive officer of Solutionreach, which he founded and has served as CEO since 2000. Higgins launched the company to help support dental practices with the common, yet costly problem: patient no-shows. Since then, Higgins has innovated and guided the direction of the Solutionreach technology to meet all the patient relationship management needs of dental, vision, plastic surgery and medical practice specialties. Higgins is a graduate of Brigham Young University.

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