Patient Financial Communications

Odeza: Driving engagement through patient-centric digital communications

February 3, 2021 10:11 pm
In this Business Profile, Dan Melillo, founder and CEO of Odeza, talks about using an integrated digital communications platform to deliver a seamless patient experience that drives operational efficiency, reduces costs and boosts revenue.

How do you help healthcare organizations?

At Odeza, we partner with health systems to create a seamless patient communications experience across all points of contact. Our platform delivers artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted digital communications through two-way SMS, voice, email, live chat and web-based chatbots. Unlike other companies in the marketplace, we provide a fully unified consumer communication experience that fosters patient acquisition, access, retention and payments, as well as improved population health.

Using our technology, healthcare organizations can execute on-demand messaging, blast communication campaigns and automated marketing programs. The solution is easy to implement and integrates with leading electronic health records (EHRs) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. It automatically incorporates data from patient outreach activities and communications into a health system’s EHR or CRM application, offering real-time reporting and analytics.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see currently affecting healthcare organizations?

From our perspective, there are three main trends facing organizations right now. First is the pressure to reduce costs due to COVID-19. The pandemic has created catastrophic financial challenges for U.S. health systems. Consequently, they are looking to curb expenses by reducing administrative labor costs and consolidating vendors.

Second, today’s healthcare consumers are seeking care on their own terms. They want a prompt, seamless experience and digital touch points. And research shows they are willing to pay for it.a Much like their buying decisions, provider selection is increasingly based on factors such as convenience, comfort, availability and flexibility. According to a recent survey, 82% of patients would switch providers over a bad experience.b That can translate to a 10% to 20% loss in revenue for healthcare organizations.c As technology advances in other areas, people expect to see the same in healthcare. Maximizing convenience and ease of access is now mission critical to compete in the modern healthcare economy. This requires providers to reexamine how they attract new patients, engage them consistently and retain their loyalty. Providers who don’t accommodate changing expectations for a more consumer-like experience jeopardize revenue and competitive advantage.

Underlying the first two trends is the problem of provider underutilization. Unfilled appointment slots cost money. When you combine this issue with no-show rates that can reach up to 30%, revenue becomes unpredictable.d In fact, one estimate indicates that the total cost of missed healthcare appointments is more than $150 billion a year.e An anticipated provider shortage, projected over the next decade, will only compound the problem. This perfect storm of factors will surely have revenue implications for providers, and patient health and safety ramifications as well.

How does your platform help address these challenges?

Addressing the financial impact of COVID-19. In 2020, Odeza worked hand in hand with customers to automate the delivery of millions of digital communications, including sharing the latest available information on the virus. For example, we helped health systems deploy a series of targeted blast campaigns related to halting elective surgeries, boosting telehealth awareness, communicating whether an organization was open for business and following up on cancellations and no-shows. (See Figure 1).

Figure 1. Business impact of blast campaigns

Campaign NameCompletion Date# of Patients ReachedBusiness Impact
COVID-19 preparation: Halting elective surgeries

Mar 15, 2020

28,0004,500 hours of labor cost savings(due to automating patient outreach) 
Telehealth awareness: Primary and specialty careApr 10, 2020450,000

24% increase in telehealth visit volume (between April 10, 2020 –  May 8, 2020)

Back to normalcy: Open for businessMay 26, 2020525,00029% increase in provider utilization (between May 26, 2020 – June 23, 2020)
Care gap follow-up: Cancellations and no-showsJun 10, 2020200,00025% increase in rescheduling rate (between June 10, 2020 – July 8, 2020)
Source: Odeza

Statistics show more than 41% of customers expect live chat on a website.f That percentage jumps to 50% for mobile visitors. Odeza’s digital chatbot uses conversational AI to assist consumers with website navigation, appointment scheduling, symptom checking and triaging to the appropriate care setting. The live chat component provides an option to instantly chat with a human agent affiliated with the health system.As the country begins COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, Odeza is ready to partner with customers to automate immunization communications using a patient’s preferred communication channel, such as SMS, voice or email. Our Consumer Chat solution can also cost-effectively manage call volume for patient outreach and customer support centers by leveraging a digital chatbot and live chat capabilities through a pop-up window on an organization’s website or portal.

Odeza helps healthcare organizations eliminate labor costs by automating manual patient communication workflows — in some cases cutting the cost of outreach by 30% to 50%. Similarly, by digitizing print mail communications, our customers can deliver population-wide messages at a fraction of the cost and time. Our platform also decreases vendor costs. For instance, we can replace early-out vendors using payment reminders, which can increase the self-pay collection rate. An organization may not need a propensity-to-pay vendor if they use our platform because our solution automates all patient payment outreach using HIPAA-compliant texts, voice calls and emails.

Responding to rising consumerism. While patient portals were healthcare’s first foray into bi-directional patient communication, adoption rates remain low because people would rather communicate via their preferred communication channels. Our unified set of digital tools helps health systems improve multi-channel communication by augmenting their existing patient portals.

Short post-visit text surveys ask patients to rate their experience. Positive reviews trigger a prompt to share a review and point the user to all major online review sites. Negative reviews give organizations an actionable opportunity to evaluate performance and initiate a workflow tool that guides staff through service recovery strategies. Our customers have seen an 80% to 95% increase in positive online reviews after implementing this feature.

Tackling provider underutilization. Odeza’s platform drives appointment volume and reduces no-shows by automating appointment communications. For instance, our technology will send appointment confirmations, reminders and waitlist opt-in texts to patients immediately after an appointment is scheduled. If an earlier appointment becomes available, a waitlisted patient is notified via text. Individuals are able to see their doctor faster, and healthcare organizations avoid costly unfilled appointment slots. In addition, our solution connects with patients about unscheduled referrals, orders, and follow-ups, optimizing the providers’ schedules and closing clinical care gaps. 

What are some considerations for healthcare leaders when choosing this type of solution?

Make sure your potential partner:

  • Reviews your organization’s current patient engagement initiatives and develops a roadmap that builds on those activities
  • Offers a comprehensive, unified platform that addresses multiple use cases across the patient journey — a more cost-effective and scalable approach than pursuing a series of point solutions
  • Has proven expertise in delivering a seamless, bi-directional platform that integrates with your EHR in real time, ensuring that patients and care teams are in sync at every care touchpoint

How can healthcare providers learn more about your organization?

To learn how we can elevate and optimize your patient and consumer communications strategy, visit us at 

About Odeza

Odeza’s digital communication platform unifies, simplifies and automates patient outreach with two-way texting, voice, email, live chat and web-based chatbots. The digital health company’s scalable AI-assisted technology seamlessly integrates with existing systems and EHRs/CRMs, bridging points of contact to reach today’s highly connected healthcare consumer.

This published piece is provided solely for informational purposes. HFMA does not endorse the published material or warrant or guarantee its accuracy. The statements and opinions by participants are those of the participants and not those of HFMA. References to commercial manufacturers, vendors, products, or services that may appear do not constitute endorsements by HFMA.


a “The healthcare shift: The transformation to consumer centricity,” The Prophet, accessed Jan. 7, 2021.

b Wagner E., “Insights into what patients really want from providers,” Salesforce blog, Jan. 5, 2020.

c Lagasse, J., “Losing patients to other providers can cost some healthcare facilities up to 10 percent of their revenue,” Healthcare Finance News, Nov. 9, 2018.

d Gier, J., “Missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system $150B each year,” Health Management Technology, May 2017.

e Ibid.

f MacDonald, S., “25 reasons live chat can help you grow your business,” SuperOffice, Jan. 4, 2021.


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