18 Feb First Insight: 25 Years of Innovation and Client Success
1994 was quite a long time ago. Starting a software company back then was not nearly as common as it is today, especially in the eye care industry. Here we are…25 years later.
The First Insight team is proud to have served our clients for 25 years. Today, we are pausing to celebrate with a look back and a look forward.
Nitin Rai, President, CEO, and Founder of First Insight Corporation, shares our story in this special interview. Thank you all for celebrating 25 years with us.
Lasting 25 years is a substantial achievement for any business. Did you think First Insight would come this far?
No, I certainly didn’t think we would still be here 25 years later. But our company continued to grow and evolve to serve our clients and industry partners by focusing exclusively on the eye care professional.
I kept investing in the business, growing it organically over the years. I wanted to build a successful, long-standing business for our clients, industry vendors, and First Insight team members.
For those who don’t know about First Insight, tell us a little bit about how your company helps eye care professionals.
First Insight brought in a level of efficiency that eye care professionals had never experienced before. When we first started the company, very few practices had computers. All of their administrative work—billing, appointments, and finances—involved paperwork.
So, the idea of MaximEyes EHR and practice management software by First Insight was to reduce paperwork, improve clinical decision making, enhance patient care, and increase efficiency. Having a central repository of information makes it much easier to manage the patient workflow and electronic health records—and really the entire business.
First Insight was the first company you built. Since then you have helped build more than 50 companies as a venture capitalist, mentor, and advisor. Why did you decide to start First Insight?
I worked in startups in Silicon Valley, but my long-term goal was always to become an entrepreneur. When I quit my job in 1994 and came back to Portland, Oregon, I didn’t know whether my company would offer a product, service, or both.
One day I went in for my routine eye exam and my eye doctor had this little Mac computer. He typed in all of my exam information, and it kind of bedazzled me because this wasn’t the eye care practice standard back in the 90s.
I was pre-med student. Me and my family had a long history of eye issues. Healthcare reform and the conversation around inefficiencies in the healthcare system were common in the news and politics. I knew there was an opportunity to improve the eye care space with advanced practice management technology. The next thing you know, my focus was on technology for the ophthalmic industry and we had First Insight and a product called MaximEyes.
How did you come up with the names First Insight and MaximEyes?
I’m all about insightfulness, innovation, and intention. Because we were ahead of the technology curve in the eye care space, we felt our company was the first insight in this market. Obviously, the word “insight” worked perfectly in the industry. The name First Insight just made sense.
We decided that our flagship product should have a different name from the company. The main benefit for optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, and their staff was being able to maximize efficiency. When we named our software, we did a play on words and came up with MaximEyes.
Back in 1994, optmetry EHR and practicement software were nowhere near as common as they are today. What drove you to focus on creating software for eye care professionals?
Back then using technology wasn’t common at all—many people didn’t even use computers. But early on we recognized how powerful software like MaximEyes could be for eye care professionals who were deeply challenged with daily inefficiencies. This software would allow them to replace their paper systems with automation.
It took a little while to get people to adopt practice management and EHR software. Doctors and staff weren’t excited about giving up their paper habits, and many distrusted and feared computers.
We used to spend a lot of time training people, sometimes 20 at a time, in an eye care practice who had never used a computer before. Imagine that, explaining “this is a window” and “this is how you open a window.”
Eventually, things started to click. The staff was able to find patient information faster, keep track of patient records, and schedule appointments easily.
The digital revolution was just getting started. In 1994, MaximEyes was one of the first eye care practice management and electronic medical records software designed for Microsoft® Windows®. It was incredible to be leading the charge with First Insight, to help these eye care practices discover a better way of operating their businesses.
Describe how technology like EHR software has improved the eye care industry?
The healthcare industry has become increasingly complex, thanks to EHR certifications and clinical standards, MIPS, HIPAA-compliant privacy and security safeguards, and never-ending insurance billing and coding requirements.
Information requirements from insurance companies are more demanding than ever before. Every time you think your eye care billing is under control, new reimbursement and coding roadblocks appear.
If everyone was still using an antiquated paper system, there is no way doctors and staff could keep up with all of it. Patient exams used to take a long time because optometrists and ophthalmologists had to shuffle through files and clipboards.
Remember faxing? That used to be the norm for eye care practices when they were communicating with insurance companies. Now with EHR software, eye care staff can check patient eligibility and benefits online.
Really, technology is making everything easier for eye care teams so they can focus more on patient care and less on paperwork.
How does MaximEyes EHR make practice management better for optometrists and ophthalmologists, and their staff?
MaximEyes EHR makes the entire eye care practice more efficient. The EHR software allows you to customize the encounter form and encounter types to fit your workflows. This saves doctors precious time with reviewing patient history and navigating back and forth during the exam.
When a patient comes into the office, they don’t have to fill out a four-page paper form. Practices can save hundreds of dollars a month in wasted intake paperwork and sign-in sheets with a patient Check-in App that eliminates rekeying demographic data and health history into the EHR system.
Communication is greatly improved, both internally between staff members and externally with patients, vendors, optical labs, insurance companies, and clearinghouses. Patients have greater conveniences today, like scheduling appointments and paying bills online, receiving text reminders, and filling out online medical history forms.
Patient portals that include a seamless workflow and interoperability with an EHR, such as MaximEyes, are an excellent way to connect with patients and deliver on-demand, secure access to personal health information (PHI) from recent doctor visits.
Eye doctors have an incredible amount of historical data at their fingertips, like images and test results, allowing them to provide the best possible patient care. With EyeClinic Imaging by First Insight, you can centrally store and manage images and reports from imaging devices into one cloud-based image management system that integrates with any EHR.
With MaximEyes, managing information electronically is more accurate and infinitely faster than a manual process. Really the biggest value-add of MaximEyes is how it improves the eye care experience for patients.
What trends are you seeing in the eye care industry—and how does First Insight play a role as the industry continues to evolve?
The eye care industry is becoming very consolidated. For example, an insurance company and an eyeglass frame company may be the same company. Patients typically don’t pay with cash anymore—most everything is happening electronically or through insurance claims and reimbursements.
Many companies are selling frames and lenses online, bringing more competition to the market. So the retail part of the business is greatly affecting eye care practices.
The way to be competitive and lean is to continue to become more efficient. This is where MaximEyes comes into play. We continue to add new features and capabilities to the product to help these eye care teams remain competitive.
On the marketing front, we make sure doctors and staff have the right tools to communicate effectively with their patients. We help them retain patients and grow their patient base. Today, there is more emphasis on the quality of care and better outcomes. We recognize that at First Insight, and we keep improving our products and services so they support business initiatives for eye care professionals.
Beyond technology, how does First Insight support ophthalmology and optometry offices so they can succeed?
We are known for our customer support at First Insight, and we have the stats to prove it. We believe that customer loyalty drives progress and success.
We understand that training on new equipment and software updates are key for our customers’ success. This means we offer customers multiple ways to connect with us via online chat sessions, personalized phone and online training, webinars and videos, onsite training, in-booth training at industry trade shows, and our award-winning power training.
Insurance demands and requirements continue to frazzle even the smartest optometry and ophthalmology offices. Our end-to-end optometric billing and revenue cycle management service, Fast Pay Health, is an eye care billing solution that works as an extension of your practice.
Our billing teams work behind the scenes to eliminate the administrative hassle of provider credentialing, eligibility verification, submitting and posting claims, and chasing down payments. They know the ins and outs of working with insurance payers so eye care professionals can focus on patients and not paperwork.
What First Insight client success story stands out, and why was it so impactful?
Our clients have shared so many amazing success stories and it’s difficult to pick one. A recent success story from Dr. Greg Caldwell stands out. He is one of four optometrists at a large eye care practice in Pennsylvania. As their practice continued to grow, the inefficiencies grew as well.
Dr. Caldwell test drove quite a few EHR systems before he found MaximEyes. This EHR software is allowing doctors and staff to do more than before, which includes seeing 2-4 more patients per day. That is a substantial increase in revenue, compared to before when they didn’t have MaximEyes.
We love hearing about that level of success, how practices can treat more patients with greater effectiveness to grow their business.
What can we expect to see from First Insight over the next 25 years?
We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing the past 25 years: seeking opportunities for improvement and pairing them with solutions that make a positive difference. Our goal is to continue to innovate—to be a leader in practice management and EHR solutions that bring the best technology and tools to the eye care industry so our clients succeed.
I’m excited to announce that in early 2020, First Insight will release the next generation of MaximEyes practice management and EHR software with even faster, easier navigation and fewer clicks.
MaximEyes will return to a UNIFIED browser-based system that will run on the cloud or local server. Data backups are done daily and automatically, it can handle multiple locations with ease, updates can be done seamlessly with no downtime, and you can process comprehensive analytical and financial reports in minutes.
Join thousands of First Insight customers who enjoy amazing support and greater efficiency. Schedule a demo of MaximEyes to get started.