HR sat down with Sycle.net at AAA and discussed the introduction of eDocs, a new Web-based document storage feature.
Hearing Review sat down with Tom Harris, product developer, and Elodie Bouneau, marketing director, at the AAA show in Boston, where we discussed the recent beta release of Sycle.net’s eDocs, a new “cloud” feature that allows Sycle.net users to have all of their patient files stored securely on the Internet.
HR: So, tell us about eDocs and what it does for hearing health professionals.
Harris: eDocs is the product I’m most excited about at the show. We’ve been working on it for about a year, and I’ve been managing it from business plan to discovery to system requirements to managing the release. So it’s been a long road, and we just started the beta release about 3 weeks ago.
HR: Who’s using the beta release?
Harris: Right now, we have 22 parent companies that are using it in about 30 locations. It’s something that users have wanted for a long time now. It has been quite a long time in the making, with much for our software engineers to design. So we’re glad that it’s now ready for the market.
HR: What is eDocs, exactly?
Harris: eDocs will give our users the ability to attach files to a patient record. So, every patient summary in Sycle will now have an electronic file cabinet. We’ve made the interface very user-friendly and very Windows-centric, in terms of functionality and workflow. You can scan in and upload documents, or multiple documents—even two-sided documents—depending on the scanners that offices use.
HR: How does it help users?
Harris: It’s helpful for all users, especially those with multiple locations. For example, within about 30 minutes of the beta release, I was on the phone with a customer who has three locations, and he literally had just received a call on his business phone from another location. A patient was there who usually goes to the main office where he was talking to me, but this time had gone to another office, which now needed her audiogram to adjust her hearing aid. While I was on the phone, the Sycle user scanned the audiogram into the system, dropped it into the patient’s folder, and within seconds, the office at the other location could adjust her hearing aid. All of this happened within a 30-second window.
HR: So, eDocs is all on the Web?
Harris: Well, Sycle is Web-based, so if any user has a log-in, with eDocs, they’re essentially now looking at the same system. All a person has to do is scan something in, and someone at another location can hit the refresh button, and the scanned document will be there. So, wherever there’s Internet access, you now have access to all of your patient documents, in addition to all the other information that has always been accessible through Sycle.
HR: What if you’re not in front of a computer?
Harris: We’re always trying to think of situations like that. I was at lunch about 3 days into the beta release, and I was able to open up a document with my MacBook Air to see if it would work, and it did. eDocs allows you to leave work early, go home, have dinner with the family, and then you can use your home computer and have all of your patient documents in front of you. Likewise, maybe you’re traveling and about to jump on a plane. You can pull out a laptop, access a patient document, and attach it to an e-mail before you get on the plane. There are many different scenarios, workflows, and uses, and I’m sure users will find even more that we would have never thought about.
HR: So, eDocs is essentially a hearing care e-file storage cabinet, sort of like Drop Box. Does that mean users can store anything, like music or videos, that are unrelated to their hearing care practice?
Harris: No, it’s not really meant to be your own personal Drop Box for movies and music. We have a 20-gigabyte storage limit per location. We came up with that through a Sycle.net customer who has been paperless for about 5 years. He told us that his biggest database was 10 gigs, so we decided to give every clinic 20 gigabytes to be on the safe side. Some may have large audio files, but users mostly deal with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PDF documents. By the way, anything you scan is stored as a PDF in the system, so that makes reading scans compatible across pretty much any platform.
HR: What about data security?
Bouneau: Since Sycle is online and on our servers, that means all of your documents are on our servers as well. We have two high-security locations being backed up in real time. So, we’re taking on all of your document storage and management costs. It’s no longer in a computer under your desk, and it’s not in your office in a file cabinet taking up the entire room. Now, you can clear out those file cabinets, clear out that office, hire another audiologist or dispenser, and make more use out of the rent and overhead that you’re paying.
HR: What about the potential for hacking?
Bouneau: We’ve actually partnered with a company called Inellinetics, which has electronic document management as their core competency. They provide the service for a lot of government agencies, so they’re all about security compliance, which is totally built into the system. Whether it’s HIPAA or HITECH compliance, all of that’s built into the system.
Harris: If you delete a document, it’s always in the trash. We didn’t even design an “empty trash button.” If we ever do, the deleted documents will still sit on our servers for up to 10 years.
Bouneau: The main point is that eDocs allows your office to free up storage space. If you need to retrieve something, you’re not going back to a room, finding the folder, opening it up, and working from the document. Now, it’s just two mouse clicks away.
HR: So, is this mainly then for multioffice use or is it for everybody?
Harris: We definitely see it being used by everyone. Sycle’s vision is that dispensing professionals could one day be sitting in their office with an iPad. That’s our dream. We already have Phase 2 and Phase 3 concepts on the road map, including signature pads. We want offices to go truly paperless. So instead of signing a document and then scanning it, we would like to enable offices to use an e-signature pad, and print out a paper copy that automatically downloads for the patient to take home.
We’d also like to develop templates in which clinicians can do a patient history on an iPad and then just save it to the system. These are all things that are down the road in Phase 2 or Phase 3. Right now, we’re just trying to release this core functionality and make that work seamlessly.
HR: So, Sycle works inside iPhone and iPad apps or just the Web?
Harris: As far as iPads and iPhones, it’s accessing Sycle through the device’s Web browser. It’s not an app yet. We’re just in the beginning stages of developing a Sycle app, but that’s not quite ready.
As to your earlier question, I really do think eDocs is for everyone. Obviously, it’s extremely useful for a practice owner who has three offices or more, but it’s also very valuable for that person with one practice or who doesn’t own a practice. Maybe they’re raising a family or working from home sometimes. It could also work for a person who doesn’t really have an office, but screenings and services at retirement communities and various skilled nursing communities. With Sycle.net and eDocs, they can literally just have a laptop, and not only have basic patient information; they’ll have all of their patient files and everything they really need. We basically put their entire office on a laptop, without taking up any space on their laptop either, because the actual information is all in the “cloud.”
Bouneau: I think it’s important to put eDocs in perspective of other products that we’ve been announcing. When you look at the latest integrations that we’ve done, such as the CounselEar integrations, or Noah, it’s all about accessing all of your data in one central location securely online. We have multiple backups, and follow all of the security protocols.
Harris: With eDocs, Sycle.net can truly become the office management hub. We have eClaims for electronic billing. We have QuickBooks sync. We have lead generation features, as well as patient financing, CounselEar, and Noah integration.
Bouneau: Sycle has really evolved over 10 years, thanks to our users. We release new feature enhancements every month based on 10,000 people in the industry giving us feedback constantly. eDocs is going to move us forward into even more automation, allowing customers to spend more time with their patients and less time managing paperwork and the office staff.
For more details, visit www.sycle.net.