Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently sat down with Peter Jurisic, the Managing Director of EZ Referral, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak and Peter had a far-ranging conversation that touched on how the software at the heart of EZ Referral began as a promise to fix an outdated process. Additionally, Zak and Peter talked about how EZ Referral is modernizing medical referrals and how they are partnering with Formstack to make it all happen. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
EZ Referral: Modernizing Patient Referrals
Zak: Can you start by telling me about EZ Referral?
Peter: EZ Referral is modernizing the patient referral process for doctor’s offices and medical practices. Our software gives the practice a system to bring their referral forms online, with our help, and help improve other aspects of the appointment process, including appointment reminders.
Zak: What is the backstory to the business?
Peter: Healthcare is driven by advancements in technology—nuclear medicine, advancements in pharmaceuticals. But the healthcare industry remains behind in how data is collected. In this day and age, data collection and analysis is everything. If you’re not collecting data in a manner that you can analyze it, then you can’t model it, which makes assessing data collection in healthcare more challenging. This is the genesis of EZ Referral.
Zak: OK you have me intrigued. Tell me more.
Peter: EZ Referral came about as a result of the fax machine. The fax machine is still used by a significant percentage of doctors and specialists in North America for sending and receiving referrals.
Historically and currently, the majority of all medical referrals are sent via the insecure fax machine. Referring doctors have either a binder of blank referral forms that they photocopy, fill in, and fax, or they download a PDF from a website, complete it, and fax it. This results in tons of errors, faxes sent to the wrong numbers, incomplete referrals, and more.
Zak: We’ve definitely all been there.
Peter: That’s right.
So let me take you back a bit further in our story. Our founder is Dr. Denis Vincent. Dr. Vincent had a patient, a young mother of three, who visited the emergency room due to stomach pain. After she was examined, she was referred to a specialist via fax. The fax for her referral was sent to a specialist who happened to be out of town for two months. Over that time, her pain worsened, so she visited Dr. Vincent. After reviewing her analysis, he found that she had cancer. Unfortunately, by that time, the cancer had spread to her liver. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer a year and a half later.
Zak: That is a heartbreaking story.
Peter: Dr. Vincent made a promise to fix the fax problem in healthcare, and that’s how we began EZ Referral.
Zak: And you are really focused on improving the process for primary physicians making a referral to specialists?
Peter: That’s correct. The need for specialists continues to grow. In the US, more than a third of patients are referred to a specialist, and specialist visits constitute more than half of outpatient visits. We have some great stats on our website about the challenges around this process.
The EZ Referral Process
Zak: What does the process now look like for doctors using EZ Referral?
Peter: The referring doctor goes onto a specialist’s website and clicks “Refer a Patient.” Prism Eye Institute is a good example of that. The doctor is then presented with a Formstack form that they complete and submit to the receiving specialist.
That form has Conditional Logic built in to make it a better experience for the referrer. We find when setting up forms we can significantly shorten the traditional paper-based form when we convert it to an online form.
Zak: What happens after the referral form is submitted?
Peter: Once the form is submitted, the referring doctor is presented with a custom response, and the patient receives a message via text or email that the referral has been submitted to the specialist. The patient is also presented with the relevant referral information for validation, and they can even make changes or edits to their personal information if needed.
Once the receiving clinic processes the referral and an appointment is scheduled, the patient is notified that they have been booked for an appointment with the specialist, and they receive appointment reminders until they visit the specialist.
Zak: A far better process for everyone involved
Peter: That’s right. There is less time and effort spent on fixing issues by getting accurate data submitted the first time. There are fewer phone calls required between the patient and the referring and referred offices, and there is a reduction in missed appointments.
Zak: And your value proposition is having a proven solution that you can help doctors get up and running very quickly.
Peter: Yes. One of the challenges with moving technology forward in healthcare is that doctors and their staff are incredibly busy. Have you ever been to a medical office and seen a doctor sitting with his feet up having a coffee? Or chatting idly with their staff? No, I don’t think so. They don’t have time to research, configure, and implement their own web-based referral solution. So nothing changes, and the office staff keeps processing referrals the same way they always have. That’s what we’re trying to change. EZ Referral implements an end-to-end solution with our software and configures and designs the Formstack forms for data collection.
Forms-Based Data Collection: Build or Partner?
Zak: How did your partnership with Formstack come about?
Peter: We realized that we needed to have a web-based referral system that didn’t require an account for the sending office. So instead of developing our own data collection solution, we decided to partner with another solution that already had this figured out. That’s where Formstack came in.
Zak: What were the key criteria for you when you chose to partner with Formstack?
Peter: The first was the completeness of the forms solution. Our key requirements included security, hosting, mobile-responsive design, ease of configuration, and conditional logic, and then the API was absolutely essential. The Formstack form submission submits into our EZ Referral system by using the Formstack API. The API was easy for us to use to ensure we had a seamless integration.
Zak: Reflecting back, how did you think about the decision to build your own vs. partnering?
Peter: There has been great value to us in partnering—for speed to market and a complete solution that we don’t need to invest resources in evolving and maintaining. We spent months and months trying to figure out our own solution initially. When we got the API key from your team, our development team connected in a matter of hours. That is huge.
Zak: We’re going to wrap up with the lightning round. Do you have any personal interests or hobbies?
Peter: Business. I love business and technology. I’m very interested in what is current, like artificial intelligence and machine learning. I love where the world is going. I’m also interested in sports, and I love to read.
Zak: Do you have a favorite productivity tip you can share?
Peter: Don’t let the small things grow big. If you have a to-do list, take care of the easy stuff first, and get it out of the way. If someone sends you an email and you know that you need to respond, do it now; don’t leave it ‘til later. Deal with all of your communications as quickly as possible.
Zak: Do you have a favorite TV Show?
Peter: I just started watching “Watchman.” I was a huge fan of “Game of Thrones.” “Westworld” is also a great show.
Zak: Do you have a go-to lunch during the workday?
Peter: Soup and a sandwich, or a salad. I typically work through lunch.
Zak: And let’s wrap up with getting you to weigh in on a Formstack debate. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Peter: No. It’s not a sandwich. It’s a hot dog. It’s its own unique food group.