Referrer network at heart of coreplus as it builds SaaS ecosystem

The allied health software system formerly known as OPMS (online practice management studio) has had a major makeover recently, with the company behind it venturing into new territory to build a community of third-party add-on partners, an Australia-wide network of referrers, and aligning itself with the national eHealth agenda.

Intracore Online Solutions has rebranded OPMS to coreplus, the name change reflecting its strategy of providing a core practice management software solution with added pluses such as a growing community of technology partners as well as an innovative move into creating networks of referrers to help its client base better manage both their professional and private lives.

coreplus CEO John (Yianni) Serpanos said that while the company had achieved strong growth in the allied and complementary health sector over the last few years, the opportunities offered by the cloud meant that it wanted to move beyond simply offering an online health practice management solution.

Last year, the company scored some major wins by being chosen to provide the software for Medibank Health Solutions' new Anywhere Healthcare telehealth service, as well as for psychology practice Life Resolutions' new Virtual Briefcase online management and marketing service and for BOC's network of sleep apnoea clinics.

This year, the coreplus rebranding has rolled out and the company is looking to extend its offering to help create networks of referrers that can provide real-time referrals and bookings using the power of the cloud.

“We were already providing online health practice management at the time, which was reflected in the legacy brand,” Mr Serpanos said. “That was a disruption in itself in that it was a departure from desktop software or a client server software scenario.

“It was for real-world health practitioners who were carting around a lot of paper files and were working from different locations. We wanted to support a workflow that was able to be taken from place to place. The cloud and the progression in software as a service (SaaS) is technology that has advanced over the last decade or so and gave us the opportunity to fit in very nicely around that.”

For allied healthcare practitioners in particular, who often work part-time and for different organisation rather than being tied to one place during the working week, the cloud has the ability to provide software or technology that they can pick and choose depending on their needs.

That is what coreplus has now branched out into, offering its core online practice management product but also partnering with third parties to allow clients to buy add-on products if and when they need them. This supports all types of health provider business models from clinics, corporate, not-for-profit, multi-site and community, Mr Serpanos said.

One example is the company's partnership with accounting software Xero, he said. Allied health practitioners often outsource their bookkeeping and BAS preparations, and Xero has put together a network of accountants and bookkeepers who provide a service using its underlying software.

“A lot of traditional software providers try to keep adding code and putting more and more into their products and they become very bloated and very inefficient, and from time to time they break down or require significantly more IT systems to support them,” he said. “What the cloud represents today and in the future is that a lot of software providers are transferring their models into a service-oriented model, and focus on becoming very specialised in terms of the functions they offer.

“So as a result we have a whole bunch of people who are concentrating on what they are all respectively really good at. The new way is to work out what workflow ingredients are needed to be put together in order to deliver a health practice all they are looking for from systems. We call that a 'solution as a service' as opposed to software as a service, and we also refer to it as having an add-on ecosystem.

“That means partnering with other SaaS providers and working out all of the technical nuances of integrating those products, so that the user gets the benefit of being able to subscribe to a service, subscribe to the other service, click a couple of buttons to provide the authentication codes that are needed by both products, and the products then start sharing the data they are authorised to.

“What we can do is turn on a Xero integration at the click of a button. If one of our users wants to do so, they just have to subscribe to Xero, they've already got the core subscription with us, and they are able to run their business in a much more efficient and effective way.”

In addition to the add-on ecosystem, coreplus has branched out into developing partnerships with health service providers to enable a much better referral network. With Life Resolutions, for example, which links up independently practising psychologists throughout the country, coreplus has helped to create its Virtual Briefcase offering to operate, provide clients, market and manage private practices.

“Life Resolutions is active in community mental health services, and they have mental health workers who are, in real time, matched with inbound inquiries and they are able to do that in real time directly into their calendar,” Mr Serpanos said.

“That is a real innovation and disruption to the way that referrals are being done traditionally in the health environment. If you can imagine calling a 1300 number, having someone ask you a few questions that ultimately produce an outcome so that right at that point in time, you are booked directly in with the healthcare provider, and you know exactly at that point in time that this afternoon, tomorrow or in the next couple of days you are locked in, you are scheduled, you have access to health care. That is something that we are really excited about.”

Having already made moves into this area, coreplus has commenced working on the federal government's national eHealth agenda, and has committed to working with NEHTA to align its software with the PCEHR.

Allied health has been very much overlooked in discussions about the design and development of the PCEHR, something that Mr Serpanos says is a great disappointment.

“When we were looking at the eHealth agenda, we bought into the vision,” he said. “It spoke to our activist hearts. But allied health is often like the poor cousin to every other decision in relation to primary health, and it's quite a frustrating situation because in the context of eHealth as a vision, and particularly through the Medicare Locals and what they are signifying with their branding tagline of 'care at the right place at the right time', there is not enough support for allied health providers to be connected, nor helped to optimise their schedules. It’s a vision, however, that we totally buy into and we agree with it.

“But the current lay of the land in primary health is to visit the GP and get a referral, and that referral model is quite archaic and clunky in the disparate technology that underpins it. We believe we offer a solution to that and we have been trying to create an awareness of that within the Medicare Local environment.”

He believes that allied health needs to come onboard with eHealth, but that to make the healthcare system function as envisioned, the referral system and incentives in particular have to change.

“You can throw money at GPs and put incentives in place such as ePIP, but you are not addressing the entire workforce in health, nor the medical software industry participants. You might get a percentage of the GPs taking up that incentive and having eHealth compliant software, but they need allied health and complementary health providers to be able to refer through to them and to refer back and have that information exchange happening. Otherwise it’s like one hand trying to clap.

“Those challenges mean that you have a very lopsided policy on how to adequately enable the Australian workforce to be totally networked and totally integrated into an infrastructure or eco-system that can keep up with the patient as they are journeying through the health system.”

To do that, optimising the schedules of healthcare providers is important, he said, not just from a profession perspective but personally as well.

“When we count up the number of providers and count up the committed hours they have on a week to week basis, how then can we optimise everybody's schedule so that we have a dispersion of patients through the system based on the available slots and not be constrained by geography?

“We should be able to direct the patient to the most appropriate slot, and we can do that by using the cloud, by enabling telehealth solutions and provide certain health services by online consultations, and by working with the respective technology providers to facilitate and interconnect the network infrastructure.

“We have an optimisation agenda around where the scheduling gaps are, who is available right now and what patient needs to be booked, and do that in real time. Not send a fax or a letter in the mail and wait six or eight weeks to get access to health care.”

Mr Serpanos said the company's mission was to “connect, help and grow” allied health providers in Australia, taking a holistic view of not only their professional lives but their personal and family lives as well.

“The connect part is having people basically subscribe to coreplus for health practice management, but help and grow is where we partner with our vertically aligned communities such as referrers, medical billers, claims engines, virtual receptionists, virtual bookkeepers and accountants where we can then broker the relationship technologically between the allied health provider and their clinical management, and business service providers, which helps them grow into a more optimal, scheduled environment and health practice.

“In that way members of our health provider community can determine whether three days in a row or six days part-time is a good thing from a work-life balance standpoint. It's up to the health provider to choose how to optimise their schedules and at the same time have a good work-life balance.”

Posted in Allied Health

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