According to the 1,100 patients who responded to CareCloud’s 2017 Patient Experience Index survey, the experience outside the exam room has a significant impact on a practice’s ability to attract and keep patients. This feeds into the aim of the Breeze app, which is to save time wasted filling out lengthy forms, scheduling appointments, making payments and sharing feedback. This makes it easier, faster and less tedious for patients to get the treatment they need for visits to a doctor’s office.
To discover more about the app and the issues facing U.S. healthcare, we spoke with Clover cofounder Mark Schulze.
Digital Journal: Mark, you’re involved with Payments Technology. How and why did you make this step into the Health Care field?
Mark Schulze: Clover first and foremost is a platform. And as a result, we’ve designed it to work with the fragmentation that is American business. There’s thousands and thousands and thousands of use cases. What Clover decided to do is not go head-to-head in every vertical, but instead build a platform, a flexible platform that provided the core payment experience but allowed for others to build on top of us with the best to breed hardware, and the best to breed android software package. And CareCloud is one of the best players in the market. And so it’s very obvious for us to cultivate a relationship and build and work with them to have a deep integration films.
DJ: What are the major challenges facing healthcare today?
Schulze: Too many to count, but when it comes to challenges specific to health information technology, we see four primary issues driving the pace of technology adoption in healthcare. The first is that medicine in general is conservative — and rightly so. As a patient, you want your provider to be thoughtful and the technology they use to manage your health and manage your health data to be proven. So that naturally leads to an industry that is generally conservative about adopting new technology.
It sounds cliché, but Health IT is very complicated. Our healthcare system in the US consists of competing information management and technology systems, working within a fragmented, complex infrastructure that has been built over decades. So, any change you make or anything new you add to the mix requires a lot of work because of the interdependencies and the connectivity that must happen. The implementation concerns for adopting new tech are real.
The financial incentives haven’t been strong enough. Medical practice revenue has been based on Fee-For-Service basis with providers compensated for the services they provide. As healthcare moves from a volume-based to a value-based reimbursement model, the financial return on investing in technology are not as easy to calculate. The good news for healthcare IT, is that investing in technology is essential for providers to thrive in a value-based system of care, so the economic benefits are becoming more clear.
Lastly, medical practices didn’t have to compete as much for patients as they do today. As patients have taken on a higher share of healthcare costs, their expectations also have risen. Practice leaders now must consider how they appeal to their patients as consumers and this includes engaging them wherever they are, on their device of choice, both in and out of the office walls.
DJ: How about patients? What difficulties do they face?
Schulze: Patients are navigating a healthcare system that is complex, fragmented and ever-changing and, the technology that their health plans, care providers and they personally use is all different and usually not connected. Add on the fact that most people access healthcare when they aren’t feeling well and a difficult task becomes even more stressful. Financially, patients are assuming a bigger and bigger part of the healthcare bill than ever before. While cost transparency tools are now coming online, there is still a lot of murkiness about what’s covered, what that service will cost and whether or not you are getting the best value for your dollar.
DJ: Please explain what Breeze is and how it works?
Schulze: Breeze is a new breed of healthcare technology — a patient experience management platform. Breeze applies consumer-centric innovations to healthcare, fundamentally transforming the interaction between a practice and its patients. The platform runs natively on First Data’s Clover® Mini and Clover® Station, iOS or Android device, and any computer. Patients can access Breeze on any of these devices to check in, avoid wait times at the reception desk, and schedule their next appointment. For payment, patients can view and manage existing balances on the go, using their payment method of choice, including credit, debit, mobile wallets, HSA, cash, or check. Patients also have the ability to set up partial payments or payment plans so they can pay when and how they want. By digitizing the waiting room, Breeze helps physician practices of all sizes increase productivity, revenue, and patient satisfaction while reducing administrative costs.
DJ: How does Breeze interact with other applications?
Schulze: Breeze integrates with a medical practice’s Electronic Health Record and Practice Management software. Because it runs natively on First Data’s Clover payments platform, Breeze clients Practices using Breeze have access to more than 300 curated business applications — which simplify everything from inventory management to time tracking — through the Clover App Market. The flexibility of the platform enables CareCloud to continuously add new functionalities based on physician and patient needs. Additionally, the sleek look and feel of First Data’s Clover devices will modernize any medical practice.
DJ: What were the main challenges in the development of Breeze?
Schulze: Software development is typically hard. We do our best to try and make it easy however. Through every feature that we built on Clover, they built an API for it first and then we built our feature on top of that. That means we eat our own dog food, if you will. It’s very unusual. Most people, they purpose-built software platforms and so when you go to add other feature or other integrations it’s actually quite difficult. You have to start from the bottom, you have to build APIs and retrofit everything. And so what Clover did instead is we said we’re going to be platform-first and we’re going to open these things up. So the same APIs that we use to run our day-to-day business we open up to Breeze to use to run their business as well on top of Clover. And so, software development is hard but we pride ourselves and we believe that we’re one of the more straightforward and more powerful ways to integrate.
DJ: How did you address data security concerns?
Schulze: Data security is very important for both Clover and First Data in different ways. For Clover and for First Data we have strict guidelines on how we handle customer data. Everything on Clover is encrypted and all cart information is encrypted. So if someone were able to break into a Clover with or without CareCloud on it they would not be able to get access to any personal, any identifiable, or credit card information. So we’ve done a lot of work. Secondarily, we work with a lot of major banks and they obviously are very concerned about data security as well. So we go through continuous audits and testing to ensure that we have the best security solutions and are meeting the standards.
DJ: What types of businesses have adopted the technology?
Schulze: So for Clover it’s kind of interesting — we kind of threw it out there. There’s some players, some companies that copied us, and they took a more curated approach. We took kind of a semi-curated approach. We reached out to companies like CareCloud. We knew they were the best. We also just opened it up to everybody and we found, on the software development side, software of all stripes.
On the flip side, we’re seeing all types of businesses use Clover because of the broadening effect our partners have. So we are in healthcare practices because of CareCloud, with Booker we’re in salon and spa management, with Bypass we’re in stadium management. We’re at the Rose Bowl, we’re at the Seattle Seahawks stadium, we’re at University of Michigan and we would not be if it weren’t for those partnerships. Our core appeal is very strongly tied to restaurants, retail, specialty retail, and people just wanting to take payments or have a basic software platform to run their business from.
DJ: Outside of healthcare what other technology trends will help shape the future?
Schulze: I think that first of all, we are just beginning. First or second inning, there’s going to be a lot of change. Things are going to happen we don’t expect like the convergence of communication, laptop in your pocket essentially through an iPhone. And connected payments, I think you’re going to see a lot of change. And I think it’s just going to accelerate. Beyond that I think we’re going to see huge innovations through the convergence of similar trends like big data applied to healthcare. I also think you’ll see a similar thing in the design and construction of new clean energy and space exploration. And I think it’s going to be an exciting fifty, hundred years here.
As published Digital Journal