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Case Study: Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat

The physician team at Northwest Florida Ear, Nose & Throat poses next to a medical chair.

Dr. Ashley Needler is the Chief Operating Officer at Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, a prominent facility on the Emerald Coast.

Since 2007, this specialty clinic has provided exceptional patient services and medical care. As COO, Dr. Needler ensures efficient operations and a high standard of patient care. She collaborates with the providers and advises on a number of facility operations. Her job is to keep things running smoothly with an eye toward future goals.

As an experienced leader and passionate patient advocate, Dr. Needler saw an opportunity to make improvements that would reduce the burden on staff and resolve patient frustration.

The Challenge: Growth and Paperwork

When Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat began experiencing significant growth, the resultant increase in paperwork became a serious challenge for staff. The process that had worked well with just one provider and a handful of patients per day simply wasn’t streamlined enough to handle multiple providers and hundreds of daily appointments. 

When analyzing the workflow, Dr. Needler noticed some major slowdowns. Most patients still submitted their information by filling out paper forms, and staff members had to enter that data manually. Ensuring that all the necessary patient information came in was a headache, and manual data entry was an inefficient use of time.

The team tried to take advantage of the digital forms offered through their EMR (electronic medical record), but most patients simply wouldn’t log in to the patient portal to fill them out. The portal’s forms also didn’t allow for much customization, which made them less effective for the practice, which, as a specialty clinic, requires fairly extensive data collection from patients.

Secondary Problems

Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat wanted to continue their growth, but after some investigation, Dr. Needler discovered some reputation management issues. There weren’t enough satisfied patients leaving reviews online. 

The reviews the clinic did have were positive, but there were only a handful.

Instead of coming across as a well-established, reputable medical facility, Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat appeared to be a new or inexperienced practice. When potential patients looked up reviews, they weren’t seeing an accurate representation of the high-quality patient care Dr. Needler knew her team delivered on a regular basis, which hindered further growth.

Could One Solution Address All These Issues?

Dr. Needler realized that the practice’s issues were all connected. 

The slow and cumbersome paperwork yielded less satisfied patients, and the generic patient forms failed to capture the right information prior to appointments. Providers then couldn’t maximize the time they had with patients to provide the best medical care.

The result was frustration all around — not a situation conducive to motivating positive reviews. 

After researching several options, Dr. Needler found that Simple Interact checked all the right boxes. It was easy to understand and seamlessly integrated into their existing EMR, athenahealth. Patient forms would be customizable with extensive support from a specialized team. Plus, the platform would make it easy to keep in touch with patients and get all the necessary information before their appointments. 

Has Simple Interact Made a Difference?

Since the staff started using Simple Interact for their front office automation, patients no longer have to log in to an online portal to fill out digital forms. Instead, they simply click on an email or text message from their phone, tablet, or laptop.

Today, 100% of new patients at Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat fill out digital intake forms, and 90% do so prior to arrival — reducing wait times and frustration. The medical staff and providers now have ready access to all the information they need, automatically uploaded to their EMR.

Simple Interact also automatically sends reminders to patients via email and text, which translates to fewer missed appointments, happier patients, and a more efficient staff. The platform even sends patients reminders to rate the facility and leave an online review

The facility has achieved near 5-star online ratings across the board, and they acquire 13% of their new patients as a direct result of that positive online reputation

With a positive online reputation, smooth flow of operations, and efficient, optimal care, Dr. Needler expects Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat to continue to grow and provide for even more patients in the future.

Why Do Business With Simple Interact?

Besides the improvements mentioned above, Northwest Florida Ear, Nose and Throat also enjoyed the benefits of working with a dedicated team of specialists to provide timely customization and support.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, for example, Simple Interact worked closely with Dr. Needler and her team to:

  1. Quickly enable telehealth reminders and consents, allowing the clinic to transition appointments to telehealth.
  2. Replace and broaden digital intake forms to include more detailed screenings and personal histories.
  3. Develop an at-home COVID questionnaire for patients to fill out prior to in-person appointments.
  4. Create a virtual waiting room so patients could wait in their cars before in-person appointments.

The quick responses to clinic needs and the ongoing availability of the Simple Interact team made a huge difference in the clinic’s ability to function during that unprecedented time.

Dr. Needler recommends Simple Interact to any growing medical facility or healthcare organization. She says,

“We love working with our team — Noah, Ravi, and Sara. They’ve helped us find ways to improve seeing patients on a daily basis. With the flow of using Simple Interact incorporated with athenanet, it has been such a great, dynamic team to work together with. They really listen to what you have to say, and they customize what you need to better your clinic.”

If you’d like to learn about how Simple Interact can benefit your medical facility, give us a call or request a demo. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

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