GrowthPlug CEO Sudhir Bhatti’s Successful Mission to Modernize Healthcare Practices with AI
September 11, 2023
Sometimes, it takes an industry outsider’s perspective to innovate solutions for the most intractable problems. Such was the case when Sudhir Bhatti, co-founder and CEO of GrowthPlug, decided in 2019 to help healthcare providers improve how they attract and retain patients. Bhatti recognized that in this complex market, notoriously rife with red tape and frustration, the ability of clinicians to streamline communications and eliminate friction points would profoundly enhance patient satisfaction and practice growth.
Prior to joining forces at GrowthPlug with his wife, Shavita Bhatti, the company’s co-founder and COO, Sudhir had already proven his entrepreneurial chops at some of the world’s largest high-tech. This husband-and-wife team of two accomplished technologists – Shavita earned a degree in electronics engineering and law in 2005 from the University of Jammu – were living in Silicon Valley when she struck upon the original idea for GrowthPlug after a visit to her dentist in the Bay Area, whom she observed struggling with various aspects of practice growth and marketing.
According to a survey by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research last year, 68% of patients said their healthcare providers need to improve how they communicate with their customers. Tackling this challenge head-on, GrowthPlug now personalizes patient communications to provide relevant healthcare content and optimizes a practitioner’s online presence to educate and connect with patients at scale. The GrowthPlug platform begins with a dynamic customer-facing web engine supported by localized SEO, uniquely generated content, and the ability for a medical provider to make changes on the fly. The GrowthPlug dashboard provides medical practices with powerful analytics on website visitors and the ability to analyze patient phone calls to better understand their healthcare needs and preferences. The insights are available anytime and anywhere by the medical practices, enabling informed decision-making. These insights all serve to improve a patient’s overall experience, which in turn leads to practice growth.
As with any business, stronger customer loyalty for healthcare providers leads to a greater lifetime value of patient accounts – the total revenue generated over an entire relationship – and improves overall profitability for the clinical practice. “When customers feel that a business delivers personalized and consistent communication, loyalty and downstream revenue increases. More importantly, effective communication and trust support better healthcare outcomes,” Bhatti says.
By 2019, three years after its founding, GrowthPlug had signed hundreds of dentists, orthodontists, ophthalmologists, chiropractors, and medical spa practitioners across the U.S. to accelerate their new patient acquisition, manage online reputation, and automate front desk operations. GrowthPlug’s revenue at the time grew 300% annually, naturally attracting investor interest. The Bhattis raised a $1 million seed round from Elevate Capital, a fund that exclusively backs startup companies founded by women, minorities, and veterans, primarily in Portland, Oregon. This funding deal would be the sole dilution event for GrowthPlug’s founders before the company’s acquisition in September 2022 by PracticeTek, which is an alliance of innovative software companies that foster exceptional patient experiences, attract new patients, and make the business of healthcare easier for clinicians.
In connection with the Elevate investment, the Bhattis relocated from Silicon Valley to Portland four years ago to attract more stable talent and become highly cost-efficient. GrowthPlug was named TiE50 Award Winner at TiEcon 2020. A year later, the company was featured in Forbes as a Top Tech and AI innovator. Fast forward to today, and GrowthPlug has been named in the top 30% of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America in 2023, as the Bhattis continue to operate GrowthPlug as a subsidiary of PracticeTek.
GrowthPlug’s software allows clinical practices to leverage AI-powered search engine optimization capability to connect with relevant patients through their mobile or desktop devices. Patients can easily find the best provider online and schedule appointments digitally without needing a phone call if they choose. GrowthPlug’s platform also provides intuitive digital forms that patients can complete at their own comfort and convenience, rather than the traditionally hectic pen-and-paper experience while sitting in the busy waiting room of a provider’s office.
For healthcare providers, all these digitized and automated capabilities support far greater efficiency. GrowthPlug’s platform simplifies key tasks that keep patients reminded of their upcoming appointments. It assists providers and empowers patients, eliminating instances where appointments and clinical procedures might fall through the cracks. As a result of automating these rote tasks, medical service providers are free to focus more on their core mission, which is delivering care to patients.
Leaders who push beyond traditional customer experience strategies and redefine their organizations with a lifetime-value approach to understanding and meeting customer needs will emerge stronger and ignite growth in their organizations, according to a recent report by Accenture. A case in point himself, the CEO of GrowthPlug agrees. “Using AI to optimize practice discovery for patients and better deliver patient communication can significantly improve the speed as well as the quality of healthcare,” says Bhatti. “It’s a basic fact that better patient experiences correlate with better health outcomes. And the more optimized each step of the care journey is, the better a patient’s experience.”
This article was originally published on USA Today.
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