Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm
Alinea Engage LLC
Innovation: Patient engagement software
FoundeR: Carol Vance
Carol Vance formed the idea for her startup over the past 18 years. And for the past three-plus years, she has been iterating on the actual product.
Vance, founder of Fox Point-based Alinea Engage, studied rehabilitation psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During graduate school, she worked as a research assistant at the Medical College of Wisconsin, supporting individuals with diabetes in self-management of the disease. And her sister owns an occupational therapy practice in Chicago. There’s a lot of nuance that goes into health behavior change, particularly when it comes to chronic disease or physical therapy.
“I had a front row seat to seeing what private practice ambulatory care providers, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, were up against,” she said. “They were seeking to provide high-quality care, make a difference, and they also have to manage their workflow, manage their margins. I recognized this opportunity to streamline the workflow for providers, add power to what they were trying to do and at the same time, increase the relief the patients had.”
Using Alinea Engage software, which is targeted to physical therapy practices, providers can digitize their intake forms and complete the onboarding process before a patient arrives for the appointment. In addition, the platform provides automated touchpoints between the provider and the patient before and after the appointment, with introductions to the providers and reminders to do exercises at home. The goal is to increase patient engagement.
Alinea recently raised an $860,000 seed funding round, led by Brookfield-based Golden Angels Investors, for the launch of its software platform. Vance plans to expand her staff from three to 15 this year as it builds out the technology.
When Vance had the idea for Alinea Engage, she approached a physical therapy provider to test the idea. Once it had created a minimum viable product, the startup tested it with the practice and gathered feedback from therapists, staff and patients to adjust its offerings.
“I found one of the things we do really well is we’re visionary, but we believe in taking an incremental approach to development,” Vance said.
In that first phase, Alinea learned it needed to start the communication process between provider and patient not with the patient’s first appointment, but as soon as the appointment was made. She found clients on the East Coast, West Coast, in rural Wisconsin and in urban Chicago, and tested the new version further.
Now, Vance feels Alinea has gained traction and the market landscape is ready for the product.
“We use the psychology of health behavior change to identify what are some of those opportune points (to communicate) and then reflecting the patient profile, as well as who the provider is,” she said.
A communication from a provider to a patient using the Alinea platform can be customized messaging, with a different cadence based on the patient’s profile and behaviors, she said. The automation of that messaging can free up providers to focus on patient care and relationship building.
“We’re not just an online clipboard,” Vance said. “We draw them in to completing those forms in a way that feels much more engaging than just completing a form.”
In some instances, Alinea Engage has helped providers decrease the number of patient no-shows. Visits are also more likely to start on time if patients have filled out information ahead of time, she said.
Alinea Engage is currently rolling out to outpatient rehabilitation practices because of the ongoing nature of those relationships, Vance said. In the future, she hopes to apply the platform to other areas of health care.