|Podium Platform Helps Silicon Valley Eye Physicians Weather the Pandemic
SUNNYVALE, Calif.—When Silicon Valley Eye Physicians first started using the services of Podium in February of 2020, they had no idea how important the technology would become for their practice. The San Francisco Bay area practice has one ophthalmologist and four ODs, and they run a busy optical dispensary and contact lens department. According to practice administrator Lisa Beem, who oversees operations and HR, “We were fortunate we had Podium in place when everything shut down and we had to work from home. We felt very blessed to have that tool while we were working remotely. Today, we use almost all of their services.”
Silicon Valley Eye chose Podium because it had a HIPAA compliant chat solution. “We wanted a chat bubble on our website and that’s how we got started and then when the pandemic began we realized patients were texting us. Our doors were closed and we weren’t able to transfer our phones over so we did a lot of communicating by text and email and the patients found our chat bubble on the website and we were able to connect with people through the chat,” Beem said.
It evolved from there. The practice was able to let patients know the status of the office, their appointments, and their glasses or contacts that they might have had on order. “We kept finding it to be a very useful tool and we kept using more and more of their services. It was helpful because we had several people working from home. By using the Dashboard feature from Podium we could see which employee had handled a text message,” she said.
“After we reopened, we wanted to expand our Google Reviews, so we began pushing the Review request out to patients and that exponentially grew our Google Reviews. People found it was a very easy tool to use. Podium became indispensable to us because of the pandemic,” Beem said.
Podium’s text to pay functionality also helped streamline the billing department. Ram Mendelson, head of the billing department said, “Podium allows us to text patients a payment request, rather than using email which people don’t always check. You can pay with Google Pay or Apple Pay. That allows us to collect the money much faster. Electronic payments are easier to deal with and the interface is computer friendly and phone friendly.
“Collection is much faster with Podium and the team there is very responsive. It’s secure and our patients trust it and that’s what’s important. In the old days, patients were very hesitant to use texts and paying by text. Today, almost 80 percent of our billing requests by text are being paid electronically. With Apple Pay, the credit card info is already in their phones. It takes one click to pay, which is great.”
Since reopening the office, the practice uses Podium as part of its new safety protocol. Beem said, “We have a very structured safety protocol because of COVID. We have the patients wait in their cars [instead of in our waiting rooms] and that’s where Podium has been very helpful. They text us to let us know they’ve arrived and then we do a lot of their history by phone, we collect co-pays by Podium and then we go out into the parking lot and screen the patients before they come in. So Podium has helped us create a virtual waiting room.
“Podium has allowed us to streamline a lot of our procedures. The staff loves it. I think patients like the communication of text messaging because it’s less intrusive on their day. So they could be sitting at their desk and they can shoot us a text to check on the status of their eyeglass order. We can exchange text messages when it’s convenient and it’s not quite as onerous as an email or having to pick up the phone,” Beem said.