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By News

Ensemble Health Partners Acquires Digital Patient Communications Platform, Odeza, to Transform Patient Experience

CINCINNATI, Ohio (June 2, 2021) – Ensemble Health Partners (“Ensemble”), the industry leader in end-to-end revenue cycle management, announced today it has acquired Odeza, an all-in-one digital consumer communications platform that integrates with leading electronic health record (“EHR”) platforms to unify, simplify and automate patient interactions. The integration of this innovative technology into Ensemble’s proprietary revenue cycle platform, Ensemble IQ, will provide engaging digital experiences for patients while increasing revenues and reducing administrative costs for providers.

Odeza facilitates a uniquely integrated approach by bringing together the key elements of convenience and coordination frequently missing from traditional provider-patient communications. Using AI-enabled communication technology, the Odeza platform helps providers reach the modern healthcare consumer with intelligent, real-time two-way texting, interactive voice response (IVR) calls, email, live chat and web-based chatbots. The platform requires no app download or portal login by patients and enables more than 20 use cases, including scheduling confirmations and appointment reminders, appointment waitlist and backfill, order and referral management, patient balance reminders and payments, and ratings/reviews and service recovery. From patient acquisition to payment to retention, Odeza’s solutions help healthcare providers increase patient volumes while improving patient engagement and loyalty.

Ensemble IQ has a proven track record of dramatically improving revenue cycle performance for our clients, and Odeza will allow us to expand our capabilities to help healthcare providers reach today’s highly connected patients with automated, digital touch points,” said Judson Ivy, Founder and CEO of Ensemble. “This new technology, along with our people and processes, will allow us to continue to redefine the possible in healthcare for both providers and patients.”“Combining our experience developing mobile technologies and digital patient communication solutions with Ensemble’s industry-leading expertise creates an unrivaled platform for healthcare organizations looking to realize value on their digital investments while meeting the expectations of today’s consumers,” said Odeza Founder and CEO Dan Melillo, who will be joining Ensemble’s leadership team as Chief Digital Officer.

Ensemble partners with more than 380 hospitals and 8,000 healthcare providers across the U.S. to improve financial performance and patient experiences, allowing providers to focus on improving clinical outcomes and reinvesting in patient care. Ensemble experienced significant growth in 2020, adding a record number of new end-to-end clients and achieving record revenue, as well as hiring more than 1,500 new employees nationwide.

This momentum has continued in 2021. With the most advanced automation technology in the market, Ensemble was recently granted five patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with six others pending. In February 2021, Ensemble was awarded the “Best in KLAS” designation for full revenue cycle outsourcing for the second year in a row, receiving the highest score in KLAS history of any revenue cycle management company for our ability to exceed expectations and deliver tangible outcomes for clients.

About Ensemble Health Partners  

Ensemble Health Partners is a leading provider of technology-enabled revenue cycle management solutions for health systems, including hospitals and affiliated physician groups. We purpose built our end-to-end revenue cycle platform to deliver significant and sustainable financial performance improvement for our clients, improve the patient experience, and allow providers to focus on clinical care. We offer both end-to-end revenue cycle management as well as a comprehensive suite of point solutions to healthcare providers throughout the U.S., forging deep relationships with our clients to find innovative solutions and deliver lasting results. Recognized with multiple industry awards and as a Becker’s Healthcare Top Workplace, Ensemble is setting a new standard for revenue cycle management — redefining the possible in healthcare by empowering people to be the difference. For more information, visit ensemblehp.com.

About Odeza  

Odeza® builds interactive technologies that give providers the power to connect with patients smarter, better, faster. The digital health company simplifies, integrates and automates provider-patient communication to create a seamless experience. From two-way SMS, voice, and email to live chat and web-based chatbots, Odeza’s comprehensive patient outreach platform bridges digital touch points to reach the highly connected, modern healthcare consumer. For more information, visit odeza.com or connect on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

When a Pandemic + Extreme Weather Collide, Stay Connected to Patients

By covid19

What happens when a deadly winter storm strikes during a pandemic? The country is finding out.

Power outages in Texas. Hospitals filling in Oklahoma. Concern growing as the dangerous, inclement weather travels from the United States’ midsection to its Northeast corridor. Ice, snow and myriad problems are coming along for the ride, all stalling a COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort still in its infancy.

The disastrous duality has a term: a compound extreme event. Pairing a wildfire and heat wave, for instance. In this case, it’s an ongoing pandemic now encased in ice and generating yet another new challenge thanks to widespread power outages.

WHAT’S NEXT? 

Healthcare organizations are forced to scramble once again. Vaccine appointments need to be cancelled, patients need to be rescheduled, and providers need a simple, interactive way to inform and educate those staring at their phones and wondering, “What’s next?”

Meeting vaccine supply and demand expectations is already an ongoing challenge. Providers, already trying to carefully and accurately align inventory to patient volume, now facing the compounding impact of shipping delays. The CDC announced Tuesday the government is projecting “widespread delays” of vaccine deliveries across the country. Multiple cities and states are already feeling the impact.

And with the delays come cancellations. The pending avalanche of rescheduled appointments — and the coordination of them — is expected to exacerbate existing challenges and make it harder to meet distribution targets.   

GROWING MOMENTUM FORCED TO PAUSE

In Chicago, all city-run vaccine sites were closed Tuesday because of the winter weather and appointments there will be rescheduled, city officials said. Shipments of COVID-19 vaccines coming to the area were previously stalled by a hefty late-weekend snowfall, making an already heavy lift all the more difficult.

Vaccine distribution in Missouri is also suddenly stalled for a week because of the powerful storms.

“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold,” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said early in the week. “These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments. We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”

More shipment delays are expected in Nevada. Texas has shut down a multitude of vaccination sites. Tennessee has shuttered county-run health departments. 

The storm has become another formidable hurdle for a nation desperately trying to recover from the pandemic. With it come scheduling problems and a need for solutions, a nervous populace, and healthcare facilities in need of a way to quickly inform and manage their patient population. The right digital health communication tools can not only mitigate existing issues, but help facilitate a brisk recovery from this sudden structural snarl.

EMPOWER PATIENTS TO ACTIVELY MANAGE CARE

Empowered patients will self-manage in a crisis when armed with the appropriate tools to do so. Reducing roadblocks to back-and-forth communications with intuitive messaging that allow both sides to converse in real time can be a game-changer — even in the face of unexpected delays from severe weather.

Appointment management is paramount. For instance, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis aims to vaccinate 70% of the state’s age 70+ population by the end of the month. That goal is more daunting after this week’s shipment of vaccines was stalled by winter weather. Being able to quickly pivot and adapt requires a joint effort from providers and patients. Getting information out quickly and empowering consumers with self-rescheduling tools will help minimize a potential scheduling mess. 

Automating delivery of text-based confirmations and reminders will also help limit the long-term impact of this week’s storms. But, what if there are no appointments available when a patient attempts to reschedule? An added option to be put on a waitlist takes the pressure off both sides, using smart scheduling to kick out notifications when a slot opens up. Patients receive a notification a new opportunity is available. A tap here, a tap there, and — boom — they are added to the line. This kind of on-demand self-service when juggling life’s shifting priorities is becoming the norm and expectation in healthcare.

Interactive communication with providers helps patients feel in control of their healthcare. They want to quickly dig out of the storm and reroute their path to vaccination. Ideally, this journey does not include ongoing back-and-forth phone calls, but instead easy-to-make adjustments while everyone does their best in a time of crisis. It can be done with the right outreach technology.

PROVIDE RELIEF THROUGH EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS

How does a hospital provide relief for overwhelmed systems and overburdened staff? Balancing administrative needs, patient outreach, clinical care and IT management is difficult enough in a pandemic. It becomes almost insurmountable when a second catastrophic event hits. Smart communication platforms can alleviate some pressure by automating critical tasks, often through text-based outreach. Patients can turn to their phones to find new appointments, move an existing one or be added to a waitlist thanks to two-way SMS. 

Broadcasting messages to let scheduled patients know a facility is closed due to weather conditions is far easier and more efficient than fielding a high volume of incoming queries or manually contacting every patient on the schedule. Following up with prompts and instructions for rescheduling appointments online also reduces overall labor costs. Sending automated text confirmations and reminders increases appointment throughput. 

GETTING THERE TOGETHER

A large chunk of Texas spent much of the early portion of the week in the dark. A killer tornado swept through North Carolina. The Mid-Atlantic is waiting for snow and ice to hit the nation’s capital by the end of the week. Patients and providers will need to work together to counter another extreme situation. Digital touch points make it easier for both sides to work in unison.

The snow and ice will pass. A return to normal operations — such as it is in the pandemic — is around the corner. During and after this unexpected run in with mother nature, clear, two-way communications will help everyone get back on schedule so the fight against COVID-19 can continue. 

Tap into our toolkit of resources designed with both patients and providers in mind.

Looking to augment your vaccine outreach strategy with two-way digital outreach tools? ODEZA can help. 

LEARN MORE

How to Ace the COVID-19 Vaccination Experience With Digital Outreach Tools

By covid19

It’s becoming mission-critical for healthcare organizations to quickly and effectively scale outreach to their entire patient communities.

The rumble of a pending vaccine avalanche is growing, bringing with it optimism and demand for information.

A push to distribute 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days became a top priority when President Biden entered office. That count was referred to as “a floor, not a ceiling” for going forward. The administration is trying to pump it to 150 million vaccinations — a robust 1.5 million per day — in an attempt to inoculate the country and release the grip of COVID-19 on everyday life. 

As expedited production gets under way, healthcare organizations are preparing to quickly ramp up large-scale vaccination programs. Achieving herd immunity — and a return to normalcy — hinges upon smooth delivery of logistics and information to the nation. So far, the process has been bumpy. Struggles to get an appointment. Last-minute cancellations. Reports spotlighting a concerning prevalence in vaccine hesitancy. These challenges are surfacing a critical need for coordinated, meaningful patient outreach and an easy way to deliver it.

Enter: Two-way digital communication tools.

Providers, still embroiled in the frontline fight, are leaning heavily on their tech investments to support vaccine rollout. Patient portals alone are falling short and creating a need for plug and play solutions to augment portal-based strategies. Overburdened care teams are looking for relief. Confused consumers seek trusted guidance. Expectations for access and convenience on-demand are higher than ever. Layer in a highly contagious virus and a tiered vaccine distribution program and the situation becomes nearly combustible.

An all-in-one communication platform can fast-become an essential “force-multiplier” in the war on COVID-19 by efficiently automating and scaling interactive outreach. Two-way patient messaging gets guidance and education to those who need it, reducing procedural confusion and reluctance. Healthcare organizations save staff time and operational costs, cut down no-shows and cancellations — which helps minimize supply waste — and ultimately, get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Equip patients + care teams for success.
STEP 1  Make it simple.

Patients are eager to get their vaccines now and they want the process to be easy. Even in normal circumstances, healthcare comes with a slew of complexities. Minimizing roadblocks to signing up for and receiving the vaccine will go a long way in easing frustrations on both sides of the equation. After all, providers and patients want the same thing: exceptional care delivery. Using two-way SMS, email, live chat and IVR calls, healthcare organizations can automate and standardize cross-facility messaging to coordinate a single, consistent and connected experience.

EMPOWERED PATIENT EXPERIENCES

Support patients before, during and after a shot hits an arm with personalized, interactive touchpoints. An empowered patient is an engaged patient. By helping them feel informed, organized and on track from start to end you’ll ease stress and return a sense of control over their own health. Offer step-by-step guidance and self-service options.  

APPOINTMENT MANAGEMENT

Make it easy to manage appointments by putting self-scheduling tools at patients’ fingertips. Broadcast messages to targeted populations when it’s their “turn” to receive the vaccination and include links to schedule an appointment online.

Queue automated text confirmations and reminders to reduce no-shows by encouraging proactive appointment management. From their phones, patients can easily cancel, reschedule and/or be added to a waitlist — a seemingly small interaction that goes miles in improving compliance, satisfaction and schedule optimization. Day-of reminders can be used to encourage timely arrivals and prevent schedule delays.

WAIT LISTS + DYNAMIC SCHEDULING

Appointments have become highly coveted moving targets. Smart waitlist features simplify the backfilling of openings from cancellations or other schedule changes. Instead of playing a frustrating game of “appointment-whack-a-mole,” patients can add themselves to a waitlist. If availability opens up, the person at the top of the list gets a notification. A couple of taps on their phone and the earlier time slot is theirs.

With no extra effort, providers minimize costly scheduling gaps while driving higher satisfaction rates. Invaluable vaccine inventory can be properly aligned to patient volume so unused doses don’t have to be tossed at the end of the day. 

DIGITAL CHECK-INS

Streamline check-in with prompts to address pre-appointment action items. Direct vaccine recipients to complete screening and registration forms online, verify insurance and even handle copayments in advance. Eliminating the registration bottleneck shortens wait times, lowers overhead costs and facilitates more productive and efficient clinical encounters.

VIRTUAL WAITING ROOMS

Give patients a “contactless check-in” option. On the day of their appointment, send an SMS message requesting a response that alerts you to the patient’s arrival. A quick text reply — “Here!” — lets your care team know that Desiree is waiting safely in her car to be called in. Reallocate staffing resources to high-priority needs and limit exposure risks for everyone.

STEP 2  Inform people.

People are confused. They’re nervous. And they’re overwhelmed. In fact, lack of access to information could present a larger underlying problem than vaccine shortages.

“When and where can I get it? When is my second dose? What happens if I miss the recommended window for getting the booster? How long will the appointment take? Can I stay in my car until my doctor is ready for me? Where can I go to find more information? Is this even safe?”

New surveys show anxious consumers want frequent guidance and frictionless interactions when it comes to getting vaccinated. In a poll by Kaiser Family Foundation, 60% of respondents said they didn’t have enough information about when they would be eligible for the vaccine. Another study shows Americans consider their doctors to be the most trusted source for COVID-19 information and would like to receive vaccine-related education from them at least once a week. In fact, provider-patient communication may be critical to achieving the goal of herd immunity. In its most comprehensive COVID-19 survey to date, the U.S. Census reports that “nearly a quarter of unvaccinated adults indicate they won’t get the shots,” citing concerns about side effects or distrust of information provided by the government. 

EDUCATION

“Knowledge is power” as they say. Regular outreach is an opportunity to provide reassurance, eliminate confusion, educate, inform and inspire. Send broadcast messages on vaccine safety, efficacy and the importance of receiving the vaccine. Add links back to supporting education on your website or patient portal.

Segment timely outreach to communicate eligibility, safety precautions and scheduling information. Promote patient readiness by using confirmations and reminders to help them know what to expect. Include instructions, make them aware of digital check-in and virtual waiting room options, and safety protocols. 

ACCESSIBILITY

Solving the long-running challenge of low portal adoption has become paramount. The University of Michigan’s national poll on healthy aging showed 45 percent of adults ages 65 to 80 — that high-risk population — don’t have portal accounts. Digital communication tools that seamlessly layer into a health system’s existing IT ecosystem can fill the gaps left by underutilized patient portals.

Another recent survey indicates patients prefer to use digital channels to communicate with their care provider. But do they want to connect by text? Receive a phone call? Rely on email? Or turn to an on-demand, AI-fueled chat option? When it comes to access, convenience is key. Leveraging a multimodal digital strategy tailored to individual needs and adjusted to health literacy levels offers the flexibility healthcare consumers now expect.

STEP 3  Support recovery.

The experience isn’t over when the visit is. Providers can maintain continuity in care between clinical encounters. Post-vaccination information and how-tos should be delivered to drive compliance with second-dose appointments and promote long-term health and wellness.

FOLLOW-UP ENGAGEMENT

Automate customized outreach 24 hours post-dose to collect information, track side effects and respond to adverse events. Configure surveys to alert the clinical team if a patient becomes at-risk and is in need of intervention.

Follow-up sent at regular intervals reinforces adherence and retention. Connection opportunities might include a series of personalized educational messages in the days that follow to help patients self-monitor and self-manage from home. For example, remind them that a sore arm the next day just means the vaccine is working. Check back to see if common side effects are improving or progressively worsening. 

Proactively reaching out to no-shows can uncover an easy-to-resolve cause and re-engage the patient back into the vaccine sequence.  

Communicate smarter, faster, better. 

Andy Slavitt, President Biden’s senior adviser for COVID-19 response, summarized what was most crucial in the coming months during a recent press briefing. “What we have tasked our team with is to get as many vaccines as possible into as many arms as possible,” he said.

The government is trying to move fast. Healthcare providers are trying to move fast. The public needs all entities to move fast. Large-scale communications delivered with the ease of effort and clear messages will help all three, ultimately serving as a form of elixir in a time of strife.

Tap into our toolkit of resources designed with both patients and providers in mind.

Looking to augment your vaccine outreach strategy with two-way digital outreach tools? ODEZA can help. 

LEARN MORE