Thomas White is co-founder and CEO of Phynd Technologies of Kearney, NE.
Tell me about yourself and the company.
Phynd is the third company I’ve co-founded. Two of those were in healthcare IT and one in the 1990s was in Internet real-time news search. All of the businesses that we’ve started have been focused on new categories of software that simplify and improve search, profiling, and content. The second addressed diagnostic results. Now it’s provider data for this third company.
We see an intersection of provider data being important. Historically, there have been patient systems, EMR systems, payer systems, and rev cycle systems. But there’s really never been a provider data system. We see the elevated issue of provider data being an opportunity in the marketplace.
What problems do health systems have with provider management?
Hospitals have 10, 15, or maybe 20 IT systems that silo provider data. Each system has a specific function, whether it’s radiology, lab, EMR, or credentialing. Each has a specific core function with a provider database embedded inside.
Our clients tell us they have a hard time harvesting the data across all those systems and managing the data. There’s good data in all of those core systems that impacts clinical outcomes, rev cycle, and marketing. It is buried in these systems. Our clients have problems exposing the provider data into one platform where it can be curated and managed by the organization versus being buried in these silos.
What benefits do they expect from implementing a provider management system?
On the business side, inaccurate provider data creates a significant delay in the billing cycle. The reality of healthcare is that providers from all over the country are in the databases of hospitals. A hospital in New York is going to have referring physicians from Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. When they discharge the patient and invoice for that claim, they need accurate provider data to process the bill. If they don’t, it will get kicked back. We’ve seen a delay of a month to two months for up to 10 to 20 percent of our clients’ invoices because of inaccurate provider data.
On the clinical side, as hospitals have grown their physical footprint, they have added clinics in the field. They have large referring bases. They’ve created clinically integrated networks. As they have to communicate more and more — whether it’s by fax, phone, or Direct address – maintaining the data elements on the providers in the field has become difficult. We impact the clinical care process from the communications side by having accurate, good information that is curated by the client themselves.
Is it harder for hospitals to track their provider relationships under new care delivery models?
A hospital has to track 10 to 15 times as many providers as they have credentialed. If they have 1,000 providers, they’re going to need to manage 10,000 to 15,000 referring providers.
As they shift into clinically integrated networks, ACOs, narrow health networks, and narrow health plans, the provider base is going to shift. It’s not just their historical credentialed base. It’s everyone within a certain geography or target market segment they’re going after. They need to know who is in the clinically integrated network and then the specific data around their referral patterns, communication preferences, and rev cycle information.
Does having that self-curated information accessible enterprise-wide provide a competitive advantage?
It does. The end user can look at our client’s data through their native systems, whether it’s their EMR, credentialing, radiology, lab, cardiology, or pathology systems or into their marketing platform. Also being able to expose that data on internal and external websites for provider search. Then using the UI to curate and manage the data. It’s available wherever the end user is. We think that’s a competitive advantage.
Are hospitals getting more interested in marketing the physicians that work with them via provider search?
Yes. Our philosophy is that you have to get the provider data right first. That’s the core Phynd platform. Once you have the provider data in a format that’s accurate, then you can expose that data across multiple systems, such as provider search.
Provider search matters because it helps with referral patterns. It helps with customer satisfaction. But it also grows the top line. It’s good for healthcare organizations to provide the best search algorithm environment for consumers to find the right doctor the first time.
Are physicians finding that the marketing clout of their local health system benefits their practices, such as in a hospital website’s provider search function?
Yes. The world of search is a complicated world. How healthcare organizations are creating large franchises on the web is important. That drives traffic into their clinically integrated network providers, people in their ACO, and the different organizations that they’ve created.
What business advice would you offer someone thinking about starting a company?
The first thing is that startups are really hard. In general, they’re very difficult to go do, from concept all the way to customer acquisition. They require a lot of patience and a long-term view of solving the core problem that you’re going after. That’s the first bit of advice.
The second bit is that building happy customers is a long-term approach that requires an all-in mentality. To be at the customer site, to see how they use the product, to hear the conversations they’re having with their peers. Then to communicate with them routinely thereafter. It’s about being a part of the customer conversation long term.
You need the idea to start the business, but the reality is that you pivot. Part of being a startup is you’re pivoting based on conversations you have with your clients. Finding clients that are willing to work with you and to pay you is the hardest part. Once you get those folks, you can pivot the product ideas around what their needs are.
You need the core, basic idea. Ours is that we want to simplify provider data management across the healthcare industry. How we do that is dependent on a number of factors, including our partners, our customers, and then our long-term vision as well.
Where do you see the company in the next five years?
Healthcare organizations are going through significant change. They’re driven by the opportunities to attract new patients across new locations. Their physical footprint is growing. They’re building alliances and clinically integrated networks. They’re participating in narrow health plans.
We see Phynd as a gathering point of provider data that can be used to improve clinical communications, revenue operations, provider, consumer, and web touch points across all these really big businesses that are being formed right now across healthcare. We see ourselves growing with that marketplace.
I’m not sure where the healthcare organization ends. Is it payers? Is it vendors? We’re focused on the hospital space right now. Long term, healthcare is the biggest industry in the country. We see ourselves growing with it.