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"Evolving Virtual Clinics"

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Megan Walker: Hello and welcome to Market Savvy Conversations. My name is Megan Walker, the Director of Market Savvy. And today our very special guest is Yianni Serpanos who is the CEO of Coreplus and HealthTechX. Hi Yianni, how are you going?

Yianni Serpanos: Great. Thanks Megan. That was really professional, I loved it.

Megan Walker: Thanks. Now, folks, we have to warn you up front, Yianni and I talk on a regular basis about all things innovative and futuristic, and Yianni has the most incredible and wonderful ideas about how health practices can grow and work smarter and not harder. And so, this is the warning, there's going to be a lot that we cover in this. We could go down a few rabbit holes, but guaranteed, you're going to walk away with some fresh thinking and some ideas of, "Hey, I could be delivering and serving my amazing health care to my clients in a lighter and easier way." What do you reckon, Yianni?

Yianni Serpanos: Let's do it. Let's add some value to people.

Megan Walker: Sounds great. So predominantly what we're going to be talking about is evolving your virtual clinic. So how do we evolve the current model of health care so that you're not hitting burnout, you're able to reach your clients at scale, you're able to grow, you're able to serve, be sustainable, but reach people in a way that is smarter than the traditional bricks and mortar? So Yianni, kick us off. What does a virtual clinic look like?

Yianni Serpanos: Well, there's two broad concepts around it. One is the 100% virtual clinic and the other one is an expansion of the traditional in-person clinic to incorporate digital first healthcare service design. So the fully virtual clinic obviously has no fixed address for any clients to physically attend to. And so, the actual service delivery model there is either totally online through a telehealth framework, or it's itinerant in respect of visiting clients at their own locations, that could be home care, or other locations that the health care professional actually goes to. So you can think about that as itinerant or mobile health care.

Yianni Serpanos: The other version of it is taking the traditional bricks and mortar healthcare business and starting to build out the digital fabric that fills up the space between those traditional in-person physical appointments and starts to evolve that. And I think that's probably the biggest opportunity that allied health has right now.

Megan Walker: Okay. So we can definitely say, as a benefit of this, you could be working and living where you love and serving your people wherever they are.

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah, 100%. I kind of break it down into four kinds of my references. I call them my references, or you can think about it as your references, but for each person working in healthcare, you can think about what's the impact on me personally when we implement a virtual practice, or we implement a digital first healthcare service model and how would that benefit me? The big wins there... Well, actually let me just sum some down... I'll summarise the four my's and then we'll go into each one of those, if you like.

Yianni Serpanos: So there's the my relationship or myself relationship with digital first healthcare service design, then there's my clients and what impact it has on them, and how it is more convenient potentially for them, it's a better user experience in terms of how they interact with the healthcare system so it's more anywhere, anytime for them. Then there's my team or my practice. So depending on whether you're part of a team or whether you own a business, you're thinking about the wraparound on how productivity works across the team and across the practice. And then there's my peers, which I use a number of synonyms like refers, or partners, or collaborators around a shared client and how that actually works. So myself, my clients, my practice, or my team, and my peers is where we get all of these big gains when we start thinking in digital terms and we start thinking about how we scale it.

Yianni Serpanos: So to your point around burnout, I think there is definitely a model here where a person who perhaps is living in an area because that's the only place that they can be in order to do the work, they can now reimagine that idea and start to think about what's personally aligned with them. What location do they want to live in? Do they want to be near the beach? Do they want to be a little bit rural? Do they want to be a little bit up in the mountains? Do they want to be a further away from the city? Whatever choices an individual has in terms of where they want to actually live on this planet, they can actually make that decision now knowing that there is a growing contingent of allied health care practices that are building virtualised healthcare service delivery models.

Yianni Serpanos: And so that means that you don't have to be in that physical location for some types of health care. So that is a massive opportunity to actually say, "How do I want to live?" And in doing that, I can actually still have a professional occupation and earn some money in the process in order to fund that particular lifestyle.

Megan Walker: I love that. And so we've got psychologists who are based on Hamilton Island who are supporting clients in Darwin. And the other benefit that I love about this is the hyper-specialisation, that you can claim your area of expertise, helping women traverse the challenges of menopause and seek out women who've got those specific challenges wherever they are located. I love the marketing angle for that, like build your tribe from wherever they are. Are there other benefits that you can think of for this model over having a traditional clinic in addition to working where you love, having that flexibility?

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah, 100%. Where do I begin, let's see if I can slow my brain down for a moment. Some of the key benefits, or some of the key advantages are scalability. So scalability in healthcare means that we can move away from being 100% in-person one-to-one. And so a lot of allied health would relate to that, you attend an appointment with a client, and you have to physically be there for 45 or 50 minutes in order to support that client. And then you move on to the next appointment. And so you end up with these back-to-back type days and a lot of the measurement frameworks are built around optimising the amount of time that you have available to look after clients. And so that's becomes a job, it's work, it's pressure all the time in sort of moving in that direction.

Megan Walker: It's selling time.

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah. And your client only has access to you in that very exclusive moment. So they have to show up as well in that time slot in order to be able to get access to you. So when we think about digital first healthcare service delivery, we can actually start to develop and implement education resources, automations, content that is nurturing the relationship with the client and guiding them through some strategies that can support their own stake in the outcome.

Yianni Serpanos: And we're already understanding some of those frameworks around patient reported outcome measures, patient reported experience measures. But they're also things like the universal and long lasting for a good reason relationship through communications like email or even chat where you're able to, not necessarily always think about supporting your clients as a one-to-one physical appointment. And so by using some of these digital thoughts and these digital systems, we're able to actually build that, I like to think of it as kind of like a digital fabric in between the traditional appointments. And that could then lead to having touch points through the therapy cycle where no one can necessarily need to show up one-to-one for 10 appointments or 15 appointments, but you may just show up for five of the 10 appointments one-to-one. And then for the other five appointments you do check-ins using telehealth or even using chat, and supported by some of those digital health communication tools.

Yianni Serpanos: And all of a sudden you've saved, if you just did a very simple mathematical kind of equation. If we did five out of 10 traditional appointments in a digital model, that's almost a reduction of 50%. There's still a little bit of time with the touch points and some of the chat support that would happen in between, but certainly a big saving in time input that's needed to actually help nurture that client to the same result.

Megan Walker: I'm going to ask you in a moment to explain how Coreplus is already supporting clients to achieve that model. For me, the example that comes to mind of that is the online course. I'm working with a lot of clients to build an online course in addition to the one-to-one services. And for example, a psychologist will see people 50 minutes real time, and then what does that person go away and do in their daily life, and what kind of supported course with, yes, the ability to book in for telehealth if there's a sticking point in that process, can that person undertake for a deeper experience and deeper learning and get themselves out of some of those old habits and old ways and move along in the new direction that is happening in the consult.

Megan Walker: There's so many examples of that. OT, we see children going in and getting support through one-to-one sessions in OT or even in telehealth. And then the parents are being supported with online courses of managing challenging behaviors, getting ready for school, transitioning to the next year level. There's so much that can be done in this digital space now that tops up that selling time. So tell us, Coreplus, what are the bells and whistles that are allowing this to happen, Yianni, because I'm hearing people say, "Gosh, that sounds like a big tech Mount Everest that I'd have to climb, and maybe that might hold me back from doing it." So simplify it for us.

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah, I think there's always that perception that tech is a bit of a mountain to climb. We do need cultural transformation to support the implementation of technology as well. So it is a human and a tech innovation working concurrently with each other. But some of the concepts that I'm talking about are available right now as features within Coreplus, we've got a mapped out journey, end to end for your client.

Yianni Serpanos: So when your client is doing research, for example, online, they're able to find your keyword associated content, they hit a landing page, that landing page has a Coreplus feature in it called a book now button, that allows the client to click that button and that a private secure and confidential portal that allows the client to then fill in your intake forms, provide you with demographic information, and really set up that first appointment. It also allows you to offer both in-person or telehealth capabilities, and the telehealth services are available natively within Coreplus, which means that you don't have to use third party software that is separate, that's not integrated. So in our case, the telehealth system is integrated inside the clinical system.

Yianni Serpanos: And what that means is that it also stays private and secure, and any file transfers that happen during those sessions are also within that privacy and security framework as well. But there's a couple of things that we've done that are slightly differentiated in that area. When a person is looking to make an appointment with your practice, your virtual practice, or your physical practice, you're able to offer them a time zone support, which means that your reach beyond your current postcodes is now available, you can actually start promoting access to your health care services anywhere in Australia now. And that means that a person could actually make a time that's suitable to their local time zone and suitable to your practitioners time zone as well and that makes for a very convenient, obviously, meeting, not having to manually hand hold all that process.

Yianni Serpanos: It's fully branded so it provides for a great user experience all the way through so your own brand is represented to the customer and it's very seamless in terms of their whole digital journey from a Google search engine, right through to that first booking. And they're able to provide you with consents, upload any referral documentation or any other care plan information, depending on the type of services you're providing. And all of that gets set up nicely now for your first appointment. So you now have your first appointment ready with all the materials and all the information around that client to get going. And that kind of reduces that prior appointment filling in of a paper form and then having to transpose that information into your system anyway. So we're sort of capturing all the information that you need just in time to make sure that you're as efficient as possible.

Yianni Serpanos: And then when that first appointment is delivered, we have a communication automation framework that allows you to sequence in a systematic and repeatable way what you want therapy to be like, and that could be the combination of appointments, both physically and online through telehealth. That could be the communication that goes out by email or SMS that does at a minimum notifications around appointments coming up, or alternatively education and other resources, or perhaps even notifying them of a webinar coming up, Megan, in terms of some of the stuff that Market Savvy is doing, and some of the other educational resources, FAQ's, all of that can now be programmed through the whole journey of the client with your practice.

Yianni Serpanos: And we also make it really easy for telehealth. So if you want to offer that, our telehealth capability is designed around what we call a high availability video engine. So it is a differentiated telehealth from a lot of video tools that are used by health providers in the market today. A lot of video tools that are taken up, it's a bit geeky, but they're called peer-to-peer WebRTC. And what that means is that the video quality and the audio quality is susceptible to the internet, and that means it can break, it can become very pixely, you'd lose the connection, there's a whole bunch of stuff that can happen, and that's not a great experience for a healthcare session. So we have a video engine server in between all the participants that makes sure that everybody's getting the best possible connection that they can given their internet speed that's available at each of those end points. So that provides for a great experience.

Yianni Serpanos: We also do some cool things with white-boarding and collaboration online, and that allows for some of those dynamic parts of therapy where, even though you've set up your sort of standard end-to-end process, there may be other things that you want to do in session, such as making notes, or doing drawings, or marking up charts, or whatever the case is that allow that collaboration to work closely whilst we're physically apart from each other. I could go on quite a bit around that. Let me know how far or how short you want me to pull up.

Megan Walker: I just know that what I want to tell people is go onto Coreplus and sign up for a free trial and get started. That's what I want to say after all that amazing... You've done the depth of thinking behind the tool and so the model is there ready for people. If you're interested in the online course side, I can teach you that, have a look on Market Savvy website, there's Online Course Success to learn how to take that traditional intellectual property that you've got and turn it into your online course. So that's two ways to get started in moving towards having a digital health practice.

Yianni Serpanos: Yep.

Megan Walker: And Yianni, as we start to wrap up, what else would you say, you're dealing with thousands and thousands of allied health practitioners day in, day out, what's your advice on getting started and moving towards this new way of working?

Yianni Serpanos: Okay. So there's a few things I want to put a pin drop on if we can, just before we finish up, Megan. One is I want to circle back to my peers and my team analogy at some point in time, but I'll just say very quickly that one of the biggest barriers to taking up digital health tools is time, and having enough time to be able to put into doing set up, designing your templates, implementing those, and then bringing your team on board as well. Life's very busy and life for an allied health professional is super busy. When you balance in their personal lives, and dealing with client loads, and also there's a big demand for a lot of allied health care services at the moment as well.

Yianni Serpanos: So that's an important consideration is to sort of say, don't feel like you'd need to do it all on your own, we've got two teams that help all of them customers to be able to do the setups, and the automations, and the streamlining within the product. One of them is through our customer support team, which is manned six days a week through all of Australian business hours, and we also have new member of our team, it's Core-y, that's spelled C-O-R-E--Y. Core-y's a artificial intelligence that we gave birth to last year. And Core-y's now available 24/7 to help with a lot of the known knowns that most of our customers kind of go with. And he's still learning, he's still growing so give him a break if he's not exactly helping you right at the moment, we're teaching him every day.

Yianni Serpanos: So that's there. And we also have bookable sessions with our customer success team to be able to sit down and hold some of that set up an onboarding type process. So that's not charged, there's no extra fees for that, it's part of the service. We really understand how difficult it is to get going initially, but you certainly can do it at your own pace, we've got a lot of in product support there as well.

Yianni Serpanos: So I think that's a good first step. Our add-on marketplace is growing and we have some great extensions of Coreplus that help you with online payments. We're designing much more complex online forms that can be sent out so online payments through pin payments, we do forms through snap forms, we have private health insurance cover. It's a plethora of digital health capabilities there that could be turned on at the right time for you. What was the other thing I just wanted to touch on there as well?

Megan Walker: Getting started.

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah.

Megan Walker: Your words of wisdom.

Yianni Serpanos: One other thing and this is kind of elevating it. So kind of departing from, I guess, the Coreplus feature set, but let's just sort of think macro level. There's a lot of demand for allied health and I don't think that's going to taper off just because things improve with COVID or whatever the case is. I think that will continue to grow, and I think that means that there will still be continued pressure on how you recruit and how you grow your own practice over time.

Yianni Serpanos: So I think one of the understated benefits of digital first healthcare service experiences and designing your practice in a virtualised way is the potential to actually offer a better employee value proposition to future team members that you want to actually bring on. And I'll give you some reference points on the dramatic increase that we've seen. We've always been a hybrid office-based and online or remote team since 2009 when we started. But over the last two years, we have been fully remote and all of our recruiting has increased by a factor of 10 fold in terms of the amount of applicants that come through.

Yianni Serpanos: So we don't have any problem with attracting applicants to work for us. And the reason why is that the value proposition from three years ago versus two years ago has been built all around remote work. And people are just coming out of the woodwork who want that, they're really coveting it, they really want it, and they're prepared to switch states, cities and go to the places that they live as long as they've got an income to support that particular goal. So that's just a little bit of personal experience that we've had with the power of actually designing your business through the lens of how are you going to attract and retain team members as well going forward.

Megan Walker: And team members that are in different geographic areas, the challenge for anyone working with school-based children has always been filling that appointment book during nine and two. Well, if you're on the Eastern seaboard have some practitioners from Perth and they can start at 12:30 working with kids on the other side of Australia, all of those on and on and on benefits that just keep getting created out of a virtual world.

Megan Walker: Yianni, I'm desperate to talk about tribe and building your tribe, but I'm think we're going to hold that one over to our next conversation because you and I could talk for days, I'm so interested, from a marketing perspective, building that tribe of clients and patients where you are, and using social media, but really the focus is on having that tribe in your practice, not on third party sites. So that's really important in the virtual landscape as well. And that tribe being part of your recruitment as well, like starting to encourage graduates and early practitioners in their career that you're taking them on a journey to eventually work with you as well. Final thoughts before we wrap up and hold that over to part two?

Yianni Serpanos: Yeah, look, I'd love to, I'd just say, I'm advocating digital first healthcare service delivery going forward, not digital only. So I'm not suggesting that we abandoned the traditional tried tested qualities that are within the allied health care system model. What I'm saying is that let's start to scale, I guess, the model of healthcare using digital first thinking where we can sort of just incorporate some of that digital touch points into the mix that really take your access point to healthcare right to your client. It can be with them anywhere, any time, it can be with them 24/7, and you could do the appointments within a manageable timeframe for you and your team members. But then the digital tools do the rest of the heavy lifting through the course of therapy.

Yianni Serpanos: And I believe that there will be a much better experience for everybody concerned, the client will get a better experience, the practitioner is going to get a better experience, it's going to be better for the business of health care in terms of financial sustainability, and it's just an overall, I think... I could expand it out into potentially being better for society because we're a more distributed population, much more happier and healthier in our respective regions. And that kind of opens up the tribe discussion there.

Megan Walker: Yes, absolutely. So in the show notes I'll include a link where you can have a look at more information from Coreplus, and also the Online Course Success that I'm offering through Market Savvy. Yianni, thank you so much, a delight and a pleasure to chat with you. We could talk the legs off a chair, both of us.

Yianni Serpanos: Pleasure was all mine. Thanks, Megan, I really appreciate you having me on and congratulations on the show.

Megan Walker: Thank you. We'll talk to you soon. Bye, Yianni.

Yianni Serpanos: Bye-bye.


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