Amazon understands your communication style better than your doctor does. PatientBond wants to change that

April 7, 2017

In healthcare, what the patient does at home can be just as important as the treatment they receive when they’re visiting their doctor, physical therapist or dentist.

As it turns out, healthcare consumers aren’t always the best at following directions. Many of us forget to do our stretches, show up for follow-up appointments or complete the full course of medication we were prescribed if we’re starting to feel better.

PatientBond gives healthcare providers tools to keep their patients’ treatment plans on track. The company lets its clients build automated patient communication workflows that contact the patient at critical junctures in their recovery.

“Today, healthcare messaging is still one size fits all,” said Bill Paschen, senior vice president of strategic accounts and customer validation. “They deliver messages to patients and members in the channel that they choose, and that message is delivered in the same way to the entire patient base.”

A former vice president at eGain, a Silicon Valley adtech provider, Paschen contrasts the current state of patient engagement to the evolution that has happened in the e-commerce industry. Just a few years ago, online retailers used email primarily for customer support and to advertise regular promotions. Today, they combine demographic information about their customers with data about past transactions and browsing history, delivering individually tailored emails with products they’re likely to be interested in.

PatientBond wants communications between healthcare providers and consumers to take a page out of that book.

“Any piece of data that we can get our hands on, we can create a workflow from,” said Paschen. “If you’re on the sixth appointment of a 12-appointment physical therapy prescription, many stop showing up because they’re feeling fine. But if we know you have a pinched nerve, we can let you know that you’re almost halfway there, and why it’s important to keep showing up.”

The platform can also collect feedback from the patient, which can be used to improve messaging, determine when to follow up or update a treatment plan based on how the patient’s recovery is going.

In addition to health information, PatientBond also tailors messages to the patient’s personality and preferences. The company builds psychographic consumer profiles, commonplace in marketing, and uses them to determine proper communication channels, messaging and whether to follow up with information about additional services like vaccines or regular check-ups.

Brent Walker, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and analytics, said PatientBond is already seeing great results.

“Working with one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the United States, we reduced hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure by more than 90 percent,” said Walker. “We have also worked with a premiere New England hospital system for 15 months now on reducing readmissions for a form of spinal surgery, and in those 15 months we’ve only had one readmission.”

Walker said those results come from a combination of lifestyle improvement education and follow-ups to monitor the recovery, asking patients questions like whether they’re feeling pain, whether they’re filling up their prescriptions and whether they have gained weight in the past few days or weeks.

Most healthcare systems already do this kind of follow-up work, Walker said, but the automated process lets them focus their resources on the patients that need extra attention, rather than on trying to get in touch with patients who are doing well.

Founded in 2013, the Elmhurst company has around 40 employees, 25 of which are based in the United States. Walker said the company is currently expanding to new healthcare verticals, and that he expects the headcount to look “significantly different” at the end of the year.

Images via Shutterstock.

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