In this episode, Barbara and Mike discuss:
- Why Mike started OrthoLive and Spring Health Live and how he marketed and promoted those.
- The process of a telehealth call.
- The benefits and dangers of telehealth.
- As a small startup company, when you’re talking about other companies that are much larger, the hardest thing is, is getting the word out to the people that need to hear your message.
- Telemedicine is there to supplement and support in-person visits, but won’t be doing away with them.
- Telehealth systems, like OrthoLive, are able to interface with health records and with patient wearables.
“In order to make telemedicine work, you have to make it work for both parties.” — Dr. Mike Griewe
Barbara: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales.
Today, we have an exciting episode with Dr. Mike Greiwe. Telemedicine has witnessed a remarkable explosion in growth in 2020 both in adoption by medical practices and in the number of patients becoming comfortable with receiving medical care through virtual visits. The question now is, what will telemedicine be like for patients in the post-pandemic world? Will patients insist their doctors give them accessible, convenient video visits?
Dr. Michael Greiwe is a national expert on the adoption of telemedicine in America. He is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of two telemedicine platforms, OrthoLive and Spring Health Live. Dr. Greiwe’s team has adopted the two platforms during 2020 to a rapidly changing marketplace for telemedicine. He is here today to share his insights and what big changes he thinks will affect the telemedicine industry during the next few years. Welcome to the show, Mike.
Mike: Thanks so much, Barbara. It’s great to be here. I appreciate you having me.
Barbara: Tell me something, Mike. What was it like creating and growing two different telemedicine platforms, OrthoLive and Spring Health Live? And why would you need two of them?
Mike: That’s a good question. So, we actually built OrthoLive for orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and people involved in the orthopedic space. So, musculoskeletal health was kind of like my primary focus since I’m an orthopedic surgeon and so it really was natural for me. And we wanted to make sure that the platform really worked well. And so, I used it in a space I was familiar with. And then once we had really honed the platform and had it ready for surgeons in this really efficient way, then we created Spring Health Live that did a lot of the same things but was able to be marketed to other specialties. We kind of focused on perfecting it and then did something a little bit different that was marketable for other places.
Barbara: Okay. That’s great. Now, you said that you marketed them. How did you let everybody know about it? What did you do that made you successful in marketing?
Mike: Yeah. Marketing is interesting especially in technology as I’m sure you’re aware. We used LinkedIn. We used Facebook. We worked through our existing clients. So a lot of it was testimonials. We used our website. We wrote blogs and we did video blogs and things like that. And that really helped to sort of drive traffic to our sites. That was a huge component of our success.
We also have a paid marketing firm that we work with as well. And Insight Marketing is kind of who we use. They’re a great team and they were able to kind of work with us and do different things like webinars and things that reached out to the audience that was looking for. And we’ve also done a lot of work with just different things like magazines even.
We’re found on Entrepreneur. So that was really a big opportunity for us as well. And so those are kind of the compilation of things we did. But a lot of it was inbound. And then, of course, we have a sales team as well that sort of was, you know, letting people know about us as well.
Barbara: What would you say your biggest marketing challenge was?
Mike: Well, as a small startup company when you’re talking about other companies that are much larger, the hardest thing is getting the word out to the people that need to hear your message. And so reaching clients that needed our telemedicine product was probably the most, it was the most challenging thing.
We had to find out how to get to people that were the CEOs and presidents of large groups out there that could use our telemedicine platform. And so we found that you know, education was a great way to do that. But that was probably our biggest hurdle, was like okay, how do we get to these people? And how do they find our information valuable?
Barbara: Yes, of course. And I’m sure LinkedIn did help a lot.
Barbara: What are the major changes you observed in the adoption of telemedicine during the pandemic?
Mike: Well, we really saw telemedicine take off. We had good steady growth in 2020. And what happened over the course of 2016 to 2020 is we constantly saw growth in telemedicine. We probably we’re seeing at least, you know, 30% to 40% growth of our product year over year. And that was great.
We had a nice thing going and there wasn’t a lot of competition in the marketplace. At that point when the pandemic hit, there was a flood of telemedicine products and there was also sort of a flood of people that needed our product. And so we just saw everything increase from, you know, demand to the competition out there as well. So it was a very interesting time period. We grew probably 12 times over in a span of a month or two. And it was all hands on deck trying to make sure that we were able to serve our customers.
Barbara: Yeah. Well, the pandemic obviously was a big tragedy. It’s a boon for you, guys.
Mike: Yeah. It was a really sad event that ultimately had a silver lining for us. And you know, we’re still trying to help people. I think the nice thing is that we were able to help people in the midst of a crisis. And ultimately, that’s what you design and build a product to be able to do, is to help other people. At least, that’s what I think where people’s hearts should be when they’re designing something. And that was what was really gratifying for us. We were able to help in a time of need.
Barbara: Absolutely. How will telemedicine affect how doctors practice medicine moving forward?
Mike: It’s going to really change things because patients obviously are the drivers of healthcare. And they have recognized this to be an awesome opportunity for them to, you know, have a little more convenience especially in certain areas of Medicine where typically like a followup was done maybe over the phone or maybe they were seen in-office. But there’s so much convenience now. And doctors know it can be done too.
So now, doctors I think are becoming a little more efficient with it and they’re also seeing the convenience and the smiles on the patients’ faces when they get to be seen via telemedicine and get to do that from the comfort of their own home. So I think everyone is realizing it’s a great opportunity for both parties, the physician’s side, the therapist’s side, the caregiver’s side, and the patient. So because it works for both parties, it’s going to be used in the future.
Barbara: Can you walk us through what a video visit would be like and what a doctor can and cannot accomplish during this visit? I would imagine feeling to see if there’s a fracture would be a little challenging.
Mike: That’s right. I mean, that’s a great question. So you know, if you’re preparing for your first video visit, probably the most important thing to do is kind of get your computer or your phone ready just by checking to make sure that you can enter into whatever virtual conference room your physician is having you visit. And that’s good to start with. When the visit starts, the physician usually will ask a few things.
You know, a lot of it is focused around the history, right, because just as you said, Barbara, we can’t really feel and touch and do the things that we normally can do in a physical exam that help us. But every good physician knows that history provides you about 80% to 90% of what you need to know about that particular patient’s problem. And many times, history alone gives you the diagnosis. It’s very obvious based on history. The doctor will probably go into a lot of detail about, you know, how things have been feeling and what’s happening.
And then they will usually do a basic exam. For me as an orthopedist, I usually do some range of motion work. I can tell a lot about that, strength and things like that. And then I’ll check the nerves to make sure that the nerves are working. The way I do that is just asking them to do specific functions. So if it’s the upper extremity, I might say, you know, give me a thumbs up, let me see an okay sign, spread your fingers out really wide. That helps me to know that that patient is neurologically doing well.
After that basic exam, the doctor usually will come to a conclusion about what’s going on. And sometimes, the doctor just has to go through imaging follow-up or laboratory results with you. And that’s a really basic easy call because you don’t need the physical exam at that point.
You go straight into what the results were on a specific test. And so, there are a lot of different avenues that it can go. But ultimately, the doctor will usually wrap up just like they will in the office with a summary of the findings, what he or she thinks is going on and then the treatment plan. And so, you’re getting a very similar feel to what’s happening in the office. It’s just a little less of the physical exam side.
And obviously, there are some limitations. I think you asked about some of the limitations. And most of us know that video visits are really an adjunct, not a replacement. They’re used to try to support what we’re doing, not to replace what we’re doing. I think that’s really important in kind of what telemedicine is geared for. It’s really there to help the physician and the patient.
Barbara: Well, we see from all aspects that it is the patient that drives the demand in Medicine. Are you seeing that patients are switching away from doctors who wouldn’t make that available to them?
Mike: Yeah. That’s happening pretty frequently actually. And if you look at the success that companies like Teladoc and Doctor on Demand are having, these are people who normally would’ve visited their primary doctor.
They normally would’ve visited their pediatrician. And now, because of the atmosphere, they’re turning to other solutions, solutions that are available over the internet or over their phone. And so traditional doctors who aren’t offering telemedicine are losing out on patients. And it’s something that we talk about when we visit physicians. We say, you know, to get on to the future of where your practice is going to go, you’re going to need to have telemedicine in your practice so that you don’t get left behind.
Barbara: Do you think that for other options like Zoom or FaceTime, they will be able to compensate for not having a traditional telehealth system?
Mike: Well, I think so. One of the issues with Zoom and FaceTime is that there’s not HIPAA compliance which is a very important thing in today’s healthcare landscape. For people that aren’t familiar with HIPAA, it’s basically a group of laws that protect the patient. They protect the patient in terms of their privacy. And so that is a super important thing especially as we talk about data privacy and there’s healthcare privacy, right?
You don’t want to have everyone know about what’s going on with your health. So, it’s super important. And unfortunately, FaceTime and Zoom don’t provide the type of security that’s needed for patient privacy. And Zoom particularly has had a lot of issues around, you know, security. And so, they do have a HIPAA-compliant system but it is one of these things we’ve got to be very careful. And as a patient, you want to know what system your provider is using.
Barbara: Do you think that doctors will be able to practice telemedicine across state lines in the post-pandemic world? Like writing prescriptions for instance?
Mike: Right. That’s a great question. And I just got off the phone with a patient who’s from Texas. And what’s wonderful right now is that I’m able to take care of that particular patient. But you know, in the future, we don’t know whether that’s going to exist or continue to be the law and the norm in the country. But what we have seen from Seema Verma who’s in charge of the CMS and has really come out to speak on behalf of telemedicine in the past, she said, you know, I can’t really imagine going back at this point in time, which is great to hear, right?
It means that the US government feels that telemedicine is going to play a huge role in the future. And one of those laws is being able to practice across state lines. And it does help us especially in rural areas being able to access, you know, areas that are underserved by being able to practice across state lines and across borders. So I think it only makes sense if we continue to make sure that telemedicine is available across state lines.
Barbara: Of course, this is also a boon to those who are caregivers and people who are bedridden and can’t get out of bed to see a doctor any other way.
Mike: 100 percent. That is so important right now. There are a lot of patients in nursing facilities or at their homes who can’t really get out. And especially right now, we’re trying to protect the frailest of our population. And it’s just such a good way of being able to see and take care of those patients and keep them safe. We just need to be able to continue to do this. It’s just so important.
Barbara: Are your two telemedicine platforms user friendly for the doctors too? Or was the focus only on the patient experience when you designed them?
Mike: That’s a great question. I was sort of — I’m a physician, right? So I was like it has to work for the physicians. You know, I see a lot of patients during the day. But if it wasn’t going to work for the physicians, I knew it wasn’t going to be adopted. And so it’s so important for me to make sure that it was easy on the patient’s side but also easy on the physician’s side.
It’s really like a one-click entry for physicians into this virtual examination. And I thought that has to happen. We also need to know when is the patient there. We have a little green icon that flashes for the physicians. So it was really the caregiver, the provider who needed to have this just easy access to it. In order to make telemedicine work, you have to make it work for both parties. So yeah, we really focused on that with our two platforms.
Barbara: Does your platform allow for apps that are currently the third party like doing EKGs on iWatches for instance or Fitbit data?
Mike: Yeah. Actually, that’s something that we’re doing. We’re currently working with another group called CuraGuard. And CuraGuard has a bunch of different wearables that they work with. So, we actually integrate with all of these different devices because we work with this company. And so a lot of them actually, you know, we have pulse oximetry we can get data from. We can do EKGs. We can do the Fitbit data.
All of that kind of gets synced up and so it’s a great thing. And you know, it’s sort of the next step. It’s like, how do we remote monitor patients? How can we make sure that patients are safe? And all these systems, have little alarms that will go off if someone’s not trending in the right direction. So then the physicians are notified inside these practices that we work with. So it’s just, that remote monitoring piece is just awesome and it’s going to be the future of healthcare.
Barbara: Truly, it is. Definitely awesome. And the last question that I have for you is regarding your two tele platforms. Are they interfaced with digital health records?
Mike: So yes, we integrate actually with electronic health records. And we work with a group that basically interfaces with all of the health records. They’re a very large national company. And so each of our companies, work specifically with different EHRs.
We can integrate with 99.9% of the EHR systems out there. And interoperability and being able to communicate on patient’s healthcare is critically important as you’re aware, Barbara. We’re really focused on making sure that all that communication happens, that everything goes back and forth between systems. So very important. And I think it’s one of the main things that we offer that other platforms do not.
Barbara: Yes. That’s definitely key. After a doctor has been speaking with the patient for any length of time, they don’t want to have to then close that app and go into the, you know, telehealth records and have to then put everything in.
Mike: Right. And I think having, you know, two places of documentation is just silly. That’s where — You don’t want to have that happen. Especially as a physician, you think, oh please, if I could just do things one time, that would be great. If you end up doing it two or three times over, that’s really when you start getting frustrated. So that was something that was really important for me. And I was like well, we’re definitely going to make sure we’re interoperable amongst EHR systems. That was critical.
Barbara: Well, it’s really been a pleasure speaking with you today. How can our listeners reach you if they have more questions?
Mike: Thanks so much, Barbara. It’s great to be here too. And you can actually reach us at www.ortholive.com or www.springhealthlive.com. And of course, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as well if you want to get in touch with someone right away.
Barbara: Are there any last-minute tips that you’d like to leave us with?
Mike: I’ll just say to everybody out there that telehealth is really, it’s the future. I think there’s a lot of great opportunity to be able to see your patients via telemedicine and be able to see your doctor via telemedicine. And there are just so many positives with telemedicine, what it’s offering for patients and physicians. So, it’s going to be a good thing in the future.
Barbara: Thank you so much for joining us today. This has been another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Until next time.
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Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com