Tech entrepreneur Jeremy Greven’s best selling software tool is based on a simple idea. When he founded his company, Prompt Alert, back in 2007, Geven wanted to roll out a communications tool that would make it easier for doctors to ensure that their patients showed up for appointments.

Typically, that task was relegated to the office administrator, who slogged through schedules and personally called patients a day or two prior to their appointment. But Greven, a former Chubb Insurance Group IT executive, believed that the rapidly changing communications technology environment, the near ubiquity of mobile devices and the growing use of computers in doctors’ offices, added up to a game-changing set of conditions.

His hunch proved correct, but the take-up for the upstart firm’s automated appointment reminder software came from a direction that Greven and his partners didn’t initially expect. Even though their product could be used anywhere, their customers were primarily doctors and dentists in the Greater Toronto Area—or so it seemed. “We were just selling to whomever picked up the phone.”

The aha! moment

One day, the group started tallying up the source of those calls and realized that the lion’s share of the inquiries came not from the GTA, but from U.S.-based private health firms. And so an export-focused business was born.

Five years later, $2.7 million of the company’s $2.8 million in revenues (2012 figures) come from U.S. customers (Prompt Alert is ranked 55 on the PROFIT 500). It’s not difficult to understand the interest: they estimate that about a fifth of U.S. patients forget or skip appointments with their health care providers. Unlike in Canada, where physician billings are capped, those missed sessions represent a significant loss of revenue for private health organizations.

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The company’s patented solution, known as Patient Prompt, is a software service that pushes out reminder notices, plus a growing array of relevant information, to patients through a variety of channels, such as email, text or a dedicated messaging service. Increasingly, says Greven, health care providers such as private hospitals are weaving Prompt Alert’s technology into larger electronic medical record (EMR) databases, thereby providing these organizations with a means of communicating with patients in highly practical ways that improve the bottom line at the same time.

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