In this episode, Barbara and Jenna discuss: 

  • How Klara can help with communication in your practice. 
  • How branding, acquisition, and customer success can help your business to succeed.
  • Why word of mouth marketing is so powerful and effective for businesses.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Having a happy patient base can bring in more referrals and growth to your practice. 
  • Most patient portals are not made for the patient in mind.
  • The most powerful marketing is word of mouth marketing.

“Consumers today are used to having convenience experiences in the rest of their life…80% of patients say that convenience and access is the most important factor when they choose their health care provider.” —  Jenna Crane


014 Jenna Crane for Klara
Word of Mouth Marketing and Patient Convenience

Barbara Hales:             Today we’re privileged to have with us Jenna Crane, who is working at Klara, K-L-A-R-A. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, Jenna?

Jenna Crane:                Sure. Thanks for having me. My name is Jenna. I’m the director of brand and product marketing at Klara, and Klara is a HIPAA-compliant messaging platform that makes it super easy for healthcare providers to communicate with their patients and also with each other.

Barbara Hales:             Okay. Well, in terms of the company itself, I would like our listeners to know that it saves practice hours per day and automatically documents all their communications in a single place, all while giving patients a convenient, delightful experience. How would you describe Klara, Jenna?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, definitely. I think that that was a perfect description. We are a HIPAA-compliant communication platform and we make it really easy for providers to communicate with their patients and with each other in a couple of ways. One is by providing a platform that patients love and the other is by eliminating a lot of the inefficiencies and headaches that come with the administrative part of running a practice.

Barbara Hales:             What problems are you solving for your clients, and why should doctors care?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, for sure. So, one of the things that we’re seeing is that there’s a shift happening in patient expectations, so the patient experience is becoming an essential part of how practices operate. I mean, if you look at even at major hospital systems like Cedar-Sinai and the Cleveland Clinic, they now have patient experience departments with a chief patient experience officer, and that’s because consumers today are really… They’re used to having such convenient experiences in the rest of their life. They can hail an Uber on their phone or watch any TV show or movie through Netflix, but it’s increasingly frustrating just to make a doctor’s appointment or get your lab results. And so, we’re finding actually that 80% of patients say that convenience and access is the most important factor when they choose their healthcare provider. That’s more than insurance coverage, which was 46%, and even quality of care at 36%.

So, our goal is to transform communication in healthcare so that patients have a much better experience, but also to solve a lot of the inefficiencies and headaches like I mentioned on the practice side. We know that that’s also one of the biggest pain points that we hear when we talk to providers that they’re totally overwhelmed with phone call volume, they find it difficult to reach patients, and don’t even know whether patients are receiving the information they send. We actually solve it from both sides by making it easy for practices to provide a great patient experience and also helping them streamline their operations and run more efficiently.

Barbara Hales:             Well, how can doctors use Klara to market their practice?

Jenna Crane:                When we talk about marketing, there are a few different aspects that you could be referring to. One kind of major category is marketing. One is building your brand reputation, another is bringing in new patients or growing your revenue, and then the third is making the existing patients happy. Those three aspects at an organization would have kind of three different teams focused on that, on branding, on acquisition, and on customer success.

By the fact that we improve the patient experience, Klara actually helps with all three of those areas. So, if you think about it, patients who use Klara love that they can quickly and easily get in touch with their doctor. It feels like a much more personal relationship, and so those patients are engaged and happy. They’re also more likely to stay at your practice and they’re more likely to tell their friends about the great experience that they’re having. So just that one thing alone builds your brand reputation, it helps you bring in new patients through word of mouth, and it means you have a happy patient base.

Barbara Hales:             That’s awesome. Tell me, how is this different than electronic health record patient portals?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, so it all comes down to the patient experience like I mentioned. The practices that we talk to have a hard time getting their patients to actually use the portal, and adoption rates are typically in the single digits or in the teens in the best case scenario. That’s not really surprising, especially if you think about those trends that I was mentioning earlier around the patient experience, because most of the patient portals, it’s not all of them, but most of them are not designed with the patient experience in mind.

If you think about the experience on the patient side, they likely get an email saying that they have a new message on the patient portal, and then they have to remember their username and password or reset it if they don’t remember it, and those requests go into the office too. Then if they do get in, then they have 10 different tabs they’re looking at, they’re trying to find where that message was, and when they get to the message, a lot of the times it’s just something not urgent, like reminder of our office hours. Then they’re super frustrated that they went through that whole experience just to find some nonessential information, and that makes them even less likely to go to the portal next time they see that they have a new message. So we actually see that in the adoption rates that patient portals have 5% to 10% adoption rate, and Klara actually has more than… Generally, practices who use Klara have more than an 80% adoption rate of their patients using Klara.

Barbara Hales:             Well, in terms of trying to retrieve and remember passwords, I think we can all relate to that frustration.

Jenna Crane:                Yes, for sure.

Barbara Hales:             Tell me a little bit about the business. How did it get started and what is the mission?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, so Klara’s mission is to transform communication and healthcare so every patient can receive a great experience. That’s really important to our team, and of course to our two founders. They’re actually both named Simon. They’re childhood friends from Germany and they both come from medical families and medical background.

It really kind of came to a head one day when one of the Simons was on vacation with his family and they were in Italy, and his young daughter had a rash and they were new parents, they were really concerned about it. They were a little bit nervous about going to the emergency department in a foreign country, so they were fully prepared to cut their trip short and just go home and get medical care. But Simon’s wife, who’s a doctor, had the idea to text a picture of the rash to her colleague, a dermatologist, and he wrote back saying, “Oh, it’s just actually a sun rash. You can get ointment for that at the local store,” and so they continued on with their vacation. Simon realized and later talked to the other Simon about it, but there’s just an increasing inequality in the difference of care that you can get if you know someone in the medical space versus if you don’t, and they really felt passionately about making sure that every patient can receive great care, so they started building a company around it.

Barbara Hales:             Jenna, you’ve worked in marketing for a while now at Klara and before that had companies like Dropbox and Upwork. Do you have any marketing tips for the audience you can share?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a lot of different aspects of marketing, a lot of different functional areas like advertising and branding and acquisition, engagement, but I would just say at the end of the day, remember that the most powerful marketing is word of mouth marketing, the most effective sales and marketing driver you have.

So for example, at Dropbox, for the first seven years of their growth, they were entirely based on word of mouth marketing. That’s millions and millions of users they were able to bring in. And of course, they did lots of smart things to make it easy for people to refer other people into the platform, but it was really their main marketing channel for their most astronomical phase of growth.

The reason it’s so effective is for two reasons. One is that it’s free compared to advertising, and two, it’s more effective. People really trust their network more than they trust anything that an organization says about itself. I mean, if you think about the last time that you saw a movie or went to a new restaurant or something like that, it was likely because you got a personal recommendation from a friend or a family member, and it may have been also enhanced by a commercial or an ad that you saw, but it often is based on that personal recommendation. So that’s not to say ads or social media marketing are not effective. They absolutely can be, but it’s most effective when combined with a personal recommendation. I would just say keep that in mind when you think about your marketing investments that the most powerful investment you can make in your marketing is in your existing patients telling their friends and their family members about your practice, whether directly or through reviews.

Barbara Hales:             That’s really so true. Is there anything else you want to tell our listeners?

Jenna Crane:                Yeah, so I would just say after talking to a ton of practices and helping them grow their marketing, my suggestion would be if you want to get a real pulse on how your practice is doing and how you can grow it, you have to start by checking in with your patients and checking in with your staff. A lot of times when we ask people to do this, we find that there’s kind of a disconnect that… It’s very possible that your patients are totally happy and satisfied with how convenient and accessible your practice is, and that your staff is perfectly efficient and humming along beautifully, but oftentimes one or both of those things is not the case, and patients are frustrated with the service they’re getting or your staff is totally overwhelmed and they’re not working efficiently and stuff is getting dropped. So, if you want to build a plan for growing your practice, I would say it has to start in a realistic assessment of where you are now so you can identify the most important priorities.

Barbara Hales:             I understand, Jenna, that Klara has some videos that people could see to help them understand how to navigate your platform?

Jenna Crane:                Yes, absolutely. So, our website is a great source of information about Klara. That’s, and then our YouTube channel also has a bunch of videos. We recently had a conversation with one of our customers in our office, and they shared their experience of using Klara. So, going back to my earlier advice, the best way you can get a sense of a new product or a recommendation is to get that word of mouth by talking to people who are actually using it, so I would encourage you to go check out those videos and see what our actual customers have to say.

Barbara Hales:             Well, this is all really very exciting, and I certainly urge our listeners today to go to Klara, K-L-A-R-A dot com to see the videos and hear what it’s all about.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jenna Crane. It was a real pleasure.

Jenna Crane:                Thank you. The pleasure was all mine.


Connect with Jenna Crane:  
YouTube: Klara

Connect with Barbara Hales:   

Twitter:   @DrBarbaraHales
Show website:

YouTube: TheMedicalStrategist