Evolving with Modern Healthtech at Evolution Pain and Spine

“Fax machines are archaic, and we are in the medical center of Texas. We can do better, and LeadingReach helps us do better.”

Ilena Martinez, New Patient Scheduling Coordinator

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  • 2 providers
  • 3 locations
  • Interventional Pain Management
About Evolution Pain and Spine

Evolution Pain and Spine is an industry-leading interventional pain medicine clinic that proudly serves patients throughout League City, and Lake Jackson, Texas.

When a person is suffering from chronic pain, they generally want relief as quickly as possible. For a pain management practice, this means speed is of the essence in handling referrals. This is all the more true when that practice is located in a crowded metroplex with many competitors.

These realities are top of mind at Evolution Pain and Spine, an interventional pain management practice with three locations in the greater Houston, Texas area – League City, Lake Jackson and Sugarland. According to Ilena Martinez, new patient scheduling coordinator at Evolution, getting patients in promptly is critical when they are dealing with painful conditions. “If they’re not seeing us, they’re gonna see another pain management doctor in the area,” says Martinez.

Led by Sunil Thomas, MD, a double board-certified pain management physician, Evolution is a busy practice with a small staff. And it is a referral-based practice located in a busy geographic area, with many pain management practices for patients to choose from. Evolution must handle patient referrals and scheduling efficiently to maintain its competitive edge.

The Challenge

Before LeadingReach, Evolution handled its referrals with the traditional low-tech approach, receiving referrals via fax. “It was a sticky note system,” says Martinez. “I printed out every single referral, put a sticky note on it, and left my messages on there. Office Depot made so much money off of us.”

The practice’s outdated processes had a negative effect on patient communication. This was especially true for Evolution, since Dr. Thomas travels to certain locations frequently, along with half of the staff. “So we were having to write down our notes and questions for each referral, and wait until we saw that person in the office to follow up,” says Martinez. This would result in delays of 1-2 days, a considerable amount of time for a referral.

Handling new patient paperwork was also difficult. “Our paperwork is a solid 20 pages,” says Martinez. She was sending patients their pre-appointment forms through her personal work email, for the patients to print out and complete before they arrived at the office. “It caused me to get a lot of emails from patients asking for prescription refills.”

Evolution’s referral reporting was also inadequate. Their EMR system was not up to the task, since the security access controls did not allow Evolution to promptly enter new referring providers into the system. “We didn’t have any accurate reporting on incoming or outgoing referrals,” says Martinez. So Evolution had limited insight into the overall “health” of the practice, beyond the appointment schedule.

This state of affairs put a lot of pressure on Evolution’s marketing manager. “We were really putting her to work. She was having to visit pretty much every office that referred to us, just to have that connection there.”

These problems came to a head when Evolution’s fax machine started having issues right when they joined a new practice group, Northwest Anesthesia. “Our marketing manager was having to go out to every referring office and pick up referrals by hand, or speak with them to make sure that our relationship with them was gonna still be solid, since we were missing out on a lot of stuff because our fax machine was broken.”

The overall situation was chaotic. “We were trying to go through fax and email,” sums up Martinez. “We had the referrals coming in from every direction possible. So it was very hard for us to keep everything organized and make sure that we weren’t missing anything.”

“I printed out every single referral, put a sticky note on it, and left my messages on there.”

The Solution

Evolution discovered LeadingReach when Martinez received a referral from another local practice using the platform. After scheduling and completing a training session with a LeadingReach rep, she was setting up implementation with her practice within a couple of days.

The first element of the LeadingReach platform that Martinez appreciated was the patient engagement through text messaging. “We don’t have any kind of online portal. We don’t have a phone system set up to send out text messages. We are a small staff, so most of our medical assistants are expected to run
the clinic and answer the phones. If they get a call or voicemail, they can just shoot the patient a text message saying ‘I got this taken care of for you.’ So they’re not getting 5 more voicemails from the person asking what’s going on.“

LeadingReach also enhanced their communication with other offices, says Martinez. “We could show the referring provider, “I’ve called the patient this many times.” I can send notes to that office. Communication with both our patients and other offices is so much easier.”

The practice also began using LeadingReach to send patients their pre-appointment forms, instead of Martinez using her work email. The difference was remarkable, especially with the desire to limit exposure during the COVID pandemic. “ They’re not having to fill out their paperwork in the office. Getting those forms to patients beforehand, they come in prepared with their questions, instead of us bringing them in 30 minutes early for their appointment. The amount of time the patients are in the office has shortened.”

And Evolution could finally enter new referring providers directly into the LeadingReach system, allowing for accurate up-to-date reporting on incoming and outgoing referrals.

“Communication with both our patients and other offices is so much easier.”

The Results

LeadingReach allowed Evolution to move past its chaotic fax-and-email referral system. The biggest value that Martinez has seen from LeadingReach is enhanced patient communication. “Being able to shoot them a quick text message letting them know ‘We’re not ignoring you. We heard your voicemail. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.’ Being able to build that relationship with your patients is so important.”

“You can make phone calls all day,” continues Martinez, “but not everyone checks their voicemail messages. People are texting and sending emails nowadays. This is catching us up with the times. Fax machines are archaic, and we are in the medical capital of Texas. We can do better, and LeadingReach helps us do better.”

Martinez also has high praise for LeadingReach’s customer service. “I’ve never had any difficulty getting a hold of anyone at LeadingReach to answer my questions. Customer service is key, and LeadingReach has it down.”

One testament to the platform’s success is that Evolution is spreading the word about LeadingReach among local physician’s offices. “A lot of our main referring doctors are already using it. As we get new referrals, our marketing manager will typically introduce them to the platform. We’re trying to get more people in the area to utilize it.”

Asked for her rating of LeadingReach as a recommendation to other practices, Martinez is unequivocal. “10 out of 10. The texting feature alone is worth it. Everything else it offers is a bonus. It’s just gonna make your job so much easier and everything go a bit smoother – communication with your staff, other offices, and the patients. You really can’t go wrong with it.”

The referral reporting has already yielded concrete benefits for the practice. Martinez cites a recent LeadingReach report showing that a doctor had sent them recent referrals, yet they had not sent
him referrals back. “If it wasn’t for that report, we wouldn’t have seen that relationship as easily, to know they’re starting to send us patients, we need to send them patients too.”

As we get new referrals, our marketing manager will typically introduce them to the platform. We’re trying to get more people in the area to utilize it.”