Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system. 

If you experienced increased anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, you weren’t alone. According to a report by the World Health Organization, the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. 

Marissa Ramirez, Director of Demand Generation Marketing at Luma Health, was one of the people who experienced mental health challenges during the pandemic. But due to her past access to mental health care and social support, she could recognize symptoms of depression and anxiety before they started intensifying. 

“When I was fifteen, I started sleeping all the time. I lost all interest in anything but staying in bed, which made my parents pretty nervous,” remembers Marissa. Her parents were proactive, reaching out to their community to find a child psychiatrist and psychologist for her. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with depression and given the tools to manage her day-to-day. 

“I took an antidepressant throughout the rest of my high school and college years. It was amazing to see how the right blend of medications could change my life for the better,” said Marissa. 

She also fell in love with therapy, thanks to her parents’ extensive research to find the right psychologist: “My mom found someone who was a great fit for me. Even though my therapist lived thirty minutes away, my mom would leave work early to drive me each week because she knew how important they were in my care.” 

The support and love from her family and friends eliminated any unwarranted social stigma Marissa may have felt while experiencing depression.“My experience as a teen helped me learn how to advocate for my mental health needs,” said Marissa. 

Almost a decade later, when Marissa started noticing symptoms of anxiety and depression re-enter her life, she had the tools to address them. “One silver lining that came out of the pandemic is that the barrier to receiving mental health care is lower than ever. There’s less stigma because we are all collectively going through a really tough time,” she said. 

Marissa recognizes that her experience accessing care was a good one. “I’m lucky to live in an area with great mental health resources and lack of stigma around them. Not everyone has that access, but they should,” she said.

Marissa encourages family, friends, and colleagues to talk openly about mental health and reach out to her if they need a listening ear. “I believe one of the best things each of us can do to make mental health care more accessible is treating it as a normal part of life,” she said.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, dial 9-8-8 for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system. 

Moving to a different country often brings many unexpected changes and new norms. When Hee-Yeon Woo moved to the United States from South Korea about 20 years ago, she noticed immediately the difference in healthcare access, which still exists today. 

“When I scheduled an appointment as a new patient at my local health system, I was shocked by the long waits. Three and a half months to even talk to the doctor!”, Hee-Yeon said. “I had a body rash that lasted more than half a year, so I wanted to see a doctor to find out why. My wait time was so long that it led me to wonder what would happen to those dealing with more severe symptoms?” 

Hee-Yeon witnessed firsthand how access to care affects those managing long-term illness, and the differences in that access in Korea versus the United States. Over a dozen of her loved ones were diagnosed with cancer within the span of 20 years. 

Some of her Korean family and friends were diagnosed early, thanks to comprehensive screenings:

 “In Korea, when you have cancer or another long-term illness, you are assigned an advocate to help you manage your treatment within the automated healthcare system. The system checks in with you on a regular basis and reminds you of the yearly check ups or treatments that you need to receive. Or you can walk into the clinic without an appointment when you need to see a doctor or nurse practitioner, which is fairly common in Korea”, said Hee-Yeon. 

But when Hee-Yeon’s friend in the United States was diagnosed with cancer, no such advocacy program existed for her. “She was going through very painful chemo treatments while taking care of her two little kids and losing her hair, but still had to spend hours on the phone talking to the insurance company or trying to get in touch with doctors for treatment advice. It was so hard to see my friend go through stress while also fighting cancer,” said Hee-Yeon. 

Hee-Yeon believes that simplifying the access and operational parts of a patient’s journey is important to allow them to focus on getting care. “The ultimate goal in healthcare should be that if a patient is sick, they can see their doctor easily and quickly. This also means minimizing the behind-the-scenes workloads that make the process easier for providers and their staff for follow-ups and total patient care.” 

“So many young people are diagnosed with cancer now and our system in the US isn’t set up to catch it early. Providing the tools to help doctors bring patients in for preventive care and check in with them earlier will save lives.”  

In her work at Luma as Technical Operations Manager for the Implementation team, Hee-Yeon seeks to make the healthcare journey easier and more accessible for patients experiencing health challenges. “We’re all patients – those receiving care today could be our loved ones tomorrow. When I see the increased engagement now between patients and healthcare providers, thanks to Luma, I know I’m a valuable part of enhancing the patient journey.”

University Hospitals is a health system serving a large and diverse patient population in Northeast Ohio. To better provide their signature world-class care, they needed to reach patients quickly and efficiently and help their staff see details about the patient journey.

Watch to learn more about the partnership between University Hospitals and Luma.

North Florida Women’s Care provides obstetrics and gynecology care to over 50,000 people across their two Tallahassee-area locations.

NFLWC integrated Luma with their EHR to reduce wait times and personalize communication for their rapidly growing patient population, increasing scheduled referrals by 25% and gaining $10,000 in monthly revenue.

Bill Hambsh, CEO, Natalee Singleton, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, and Brian Bender, Director of Operations, share their perspective on the Luma difference.

Want to learn more? Read the case study here or CEO Bill Hambsh’s Patient Advocate profile.

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system. 

For Sona Desai, healthcare is intertwined with the story of her family and community.

Her family immigrated to the United States from Gujarat, India in the mid-1980’s, pursuing a new adventure. “My dad was a mechanical engineer and we moved around often, which can be exciting when you’re a kid,” remembered Sona. 

Every new city introduced Sona and her family to a welcoming community of other first-generation South Asian immigrants. “No matter where we went, we knew we would have a community we could trust,” said Sona. 

This trust was especially important in finding healthcare providers in their new locations. Sona’s parents, Shailesh and Smita, relied on word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from their friends and neighbors. 

Sometimes, this grassroots referral system wasn’t able to provide more specialized recommendations, leaving family members vulnerable to the system at large. 

Sona’s grandma lived with her family for several years and was not a fluent English speaker. Sona remembers her parents attending all her grandmother’s appointments to interpret and navigate the care she needed. 

“There are several different words for “pain” in Gujarati –  at times, communication can be lost in translation on either side. This left my grandma maybe facing a poor diagnosis and missing the care that may have really helped her,” said Sona.

As adults, Sona and her two sisters are now pursuing careers in healthcare, motivated to make an impact in the lives of others. In her work as a Senior Customer Success Manager at Luma, Sona is passionate about helping organizations working toward equity and better access.

One important element of access is multilingual support. “I’ve seen how difficult it can be to navigate healthcare in a new language,” said Sona, “and it’s so important to be able to meet people right where they’re at.”

“I work alongside federally qualified health centers and am inspired by their commitment to their communities. Every day, I’m reminded that the patients we are helping could have been my grandma,” said Sona.

For practices like Seaview Orthopaedics, “healthcare” can get in the way of patient care. Seaview’s growth was booming, but behind the scenes, manual calls and mountains of paper intake forms led to crowded waiting rooms and lost patients. It was time for a change. 

“We wondered, how many new patients did we lose by not calling them back soon enough?” said Micheal Gibson, Director of Marketing, Business Development, & Patient Engagement. 

New patients needed to email for an appointment, while existing patients were routed to voicemail to cancel or reschedule. Staff members budgeted hours each week to respond to emails and manually transcribe voicemails, but patients inevitably fell through the cracks. 

As demand for their expertise grew, Seaview needed a modern solution that wouldn’t inhibit their growth. Staff noticed changes immediately after implementing Luma. 

“Right away, our staff was able to spend more time with patients and less time on the phone. We had been considering adding more FTEs for manual tasks, but that wasn’t necessary anymore,” said Christina Flaherty, Seaview’s Director of Project Management.

Patients now schedule and change appointments in real time from their phones. The integration with Seaview’s eClinicalWorks EHR means staff see updates right in the clinic schedule – without manual transcription. 

Appointment day for each patient has transformed, too. 

Before Luma, patients needed to complete intake forms specific to their conditions in person while waiting for their providers. Now, bottlenecks in Seaview’s waiting rooms have virtually disappeared now that patients complete paperwork from home. 

“Patients love how simple things are now. They appreciate how we send the intake forms before their appointment, instead of using up so much time in the waiting room,” said Gibson. 

Seaview now has no problem welcoming in a higher volume of patients, thanks to their new automated processes, even converting former waiting room space into additional physical therapy rooms. In just five months, they earned over $765,000 ROI from increased patient volumes.

“I never thought that intake forms could be an easy process, especially because there are so many complexities in orthopedics,” said Flaherty, “With Luma, we now can focus on next-level growth.”

OrthoNebraska is an innovator in orthopedic care, but accessing that care was challenging for patients. OrthoNebraska’s leaders knew they wanted to completely overhaul the patient experience and create a unified digital front door – not just look for a quick fix. 

“We wanted a great consumer journey to deliver ease of access as well as quality care,” said Nikki Green, senior manager of patient access. “But we didn’t want to select a vendor that would create redundancy or be unable to scale with us as we grew.” 

The first challenge to tackle: high no-show rates. Instead of requiring patients to call to change their appointments, which led to no-shows and thousands in lost revenue, OrthoNebraska envisioned becoming the first orthopedic practice in the region to offer self-scheduling. 

Because OrthoNebraska treats such a wide range of conditions, “implementing self-scheduling seemed like a daunting task,” said Green. “We need to get patients to the right provider. The patient’s current needs, their age range, their clinical history, the approach they’re looking for – all of these factors affect scheduling.” 

Deep integration with their Cerner EHR was a must-have. Other vendors OrthoNebraska evaluated weren’t equipped to match each patient with the right appointments and providers for them, according to Green.

Ultimately, Green and her colleagues chose Luma as the foundation for their digital front door. 

After integrating Luma with their Cerner system, “we felt more comfortable giving that self-scheduling power to patients,” said Green. “We were able to trust that the technical build itself would direct patients to the right provider.”

The choice of a platform over a scheduling point solution has already allowed OrthoNebraska to solve more inefficiencies on their journey to a unified, simple patient experience. 

“Our nurses are very busy, so patients calling with clinical questions would need to leave a message,” said Green. “With Luma, nurses can respond to patients via text while they’re multitasking, which has been huge for patient success and nurses’ job satisfaction.”

Green sees wins like these as the first steps in OrthoNebraska’s digital transformation. 

“It’s exciting that huge improvements like self-scheduling are just the beginning. We’re confident that Luma will complement the initiatives we’ll tackle in the future.”

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.

Turning 16 is often a milestone that brings big changes – prom, driver’s licenses, college tours. For Kevin Railsback, it brought something completely unexpected: a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Navigating his new diagnosis “was a sudden and challenging switch from having a ‘typical’ childhood to now having to manage my health every day,” Kevin said.

To regulate his blood sugar and avoid adverse effects, Kevin made lifestyle changes and began regular check-ins with a care team spanning PCPs, endocrinologists, medication specialists, ophthalmologists, and podiatrists.

He learned to administer his insulin before every meal and check his blood sugar at least 5 times each day. In the process, Kevin learned how to advocate for his health needs and navigate big life changes, like pursuing an acting career in LA.

But when Kevin moved back home to Orinda, California for a new start in health tech, he encountered another unexpected challenge in his healthcare journey. Switching his health plan after his move meant starting over with assembling a diabetes care team.

“I needed to establish a relationship with a new PCP, who would then refer me to a new endocrinologist, then a medication specialist, a foot exam, eye exam, blood labs,” Kevin said. “When people with chronic conditions switch health plans, it’s a very frustrating multi-step process that can get significantly delayed by one missed connection.”

Having convenient access to his entire care team directly impacts clinical care for patients like Kevin.“If I can’t get in to see my PCP, that could have a trickle-down effect of not being able to get my usual insulin prescribed by my specialist team,” Kevin said.

In his work at Luma, Kevin is passionate about making life easier for patients with chronic conditions: “My status as a diabetic is not my fault, but managing my care is my responsibility. Similarly, while it isn’t their fault that care access is cumbersome, health systems are responsible for offering patients the tools to ease an already challenging journey.”

Kevin hopes to see chronic care become easier to navigate with technology like Luma and wearable devices. “Luma is helping bridge that gap for patients like me. I love challenging the status quo and saying, ‘hey, we can do better,’ then seeing positive change. That’s why I work in healthcare.”

Patient Success Advocate Profiles highlight the perspectives of providers and healthcare leaders in delivering world-class healthcare access and outcomes.

Dr. Medhavi Jogi notices the little things – especially when they could cause bigger issues down the road. This skill has served him well during his years of practice in endocrinology. Dr. Jogi’s reputation for thoughtful care has helped place his practice, Houston Thyroid and Endocrine Specialists, on the map.  

When he founded HTES, he quickly noticed that his patients often faced the challenge of learning about their new diagnosis and managing it. Dr. Jogi tried to empower each person with as much information as he could during their visit, often spending over 90 minutes in a single visit. 

However, “it often became information overload. I’d find myself repeating the same information at each appointment. What I wanted was an automated system to connect with our patients, which in 2009 was crazy talk,” he recalled. 

Dr. Jogi found Luma when looking for a better way to teach patients about new diagnoses.
“I consider myself to be an educator first, and I needed to find a better way to teach my patients,” said Dr. Jogi. “Luma was the solution I’d been looking for since I started my practice.” 

Now, HTES uses Luma to automatically send each new patient an educational video before their visit based on their specific health and appointment needs. “Immediately, we saw outcomes improve – patients were coming to their sessions better informed and ready to dive deeper into nuances of their needs,” Dr. Jogi said.

“Because the videos already covered the basics, appointment times dropped from 90 minutes to often just ten minutes, focusing on more interesting questions and complexities. This absolutely changed my relationship with patients and has kept me sharp as an educator and practitioner,” said Dr. Jogi. 

Dr. Jogi credits Luma with helping HTES reach more patients and allowing him more time to focus on the little things about each person and their needs.

“Patients just want to talk to the right person who can help them,” he said. “Luma has helped my practice connect patients in need with the care that will help them be healthier.” 

Gastro Health is committed to providing a timely and convenient specialty care experience across many locations and multiple states. 

Using Luma, Gastro providers stay in touch with patients before and after care, supporting them in managing chronic health conditions and ensuring they stay healthier. This simple, guided patient experience helps practices that join Gastro Health remain competitive. 

Hear Gastro’s Rich Weissmark (VP, Strategic Operations) and Shannon Zemantauski (Senior Director of Marketing) discuss the ways that Luma and Gastro Health are working together to create a differentiated patient experience.  

Want to learn more? Read the case study here.

Seaview Orthopaedic & Medical Associates (Seaview Orthopaedics) is committed to a great experience for both patients and staff – across its growing locations. 

At Seaview, staff and patients struggled with long wait times and stacks of paper forms. Luma has freed up hundreds of hours for staff and allowed Seaview to devote newly empty waiting room space to high-value PT care.

Watch the video below to hear Micheal Gibson, Director of Marketing, Business Development, & Patient Engagement, and Christina Flaherty, Director of Project Management, share their successes.

Want to learn more? Read the case study here.

At Banner Health, an integrated delivery network spanning the Southwest, digital innovation is key to supporting “Patient Sofia.” 

Sofia represents Banner’s patients who struggle to navigate care for themselves and family members. Banner is using Luma to make accessing and preparing for care easier for patients like Sofia. 

Hear Banner’s Jeff Johnson (VP, Innovation and Digital Business) and Christopher Stallings (Senior Director, Consumer Digital) discuss the ways that Luma and Banner are working together to innovate and improve the patient journey.  

Want to learn more? Read the case study here.

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.

“You have so much on your plate, but you’re also trying to spend time with your loved one and make things as normal as possible,” says Kashif Sheikh, a customer success manager at Luma. As a caregiver for both his father and his son, Kashif has experienced the difference that guidance and resources can make for families navigating serious health conditions. 

Kashif’s father Dr. Javed Hasan was a primary care physician who often provided extra medication to his Medicare and Medicaid patients at no out-of-pocket cost. “He had such a patient-centric view of healthcare,” Kashif said. When Dr. Hasan was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in 2013, “becoming his caregiver put that legacy into perspective.”

A family full of physicians and his father’s care team on speed dial helped ease some of the uncertainty of providing full-time care. “My Dad’s doctors even gave us their personal phone numbers,” said Kashif. “That was a comfort during a really challenging time.” 

Kashif’s next experience as a caregiver was quite different. His son Zayd was born with a rare genetic condition and spent much of his first year between the NICU and a bevy of specialists. “The entire first year, Zayd went to 4 appointments a week – a different doctor for each health issue.”

Managing Zayd’s health journey meant daily calls to different offices and hospitals, and multiple Excel spreadsheets to keep track of the details. “My wife Sara is a rockstar at planning, and she handled a lot of the day to day when I first went back to work – and after she returned to work herself as well,” said Kashif. “Our biggest struggle was coordination of care and figuring out referrals – it was a full-time job.” 

These experiences ultimately spurred a professional shift to healthcare. “When I started at Luma, things clicked,” said Kashif. “Patient access is incredibly important, and I see administrators light up when they’re able to communicate with patients more easily. It seems simple, but it really makes a difference.”

Kashif is driven to make a difference for other families in his work at Luma.

“Getting the care you need shouldn’t be a burden – needing care is enough stress in itself. My family has been so lucky to navigate this process with amazing healthcare resources, and with physicians in the family who can provide guidance,” Kashif said. “So many others don’t have those resources – we have to meet every patient where they are.” 

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.

“I initially came to healthcare out of a passion for sports,” said Maggie Hanlon, senior manager of operations at Luma. “But it wasn’t until I sustained an injury during a sprint that I truly understood how hard it can be to navigate the healthcare journey as a patient.” 

From a young age, Maggie was interested in health from a sports perspective – she played soccer and was a competitive sprinter for a decade – and was excited by technology. “My brother convinced my parents that we needed a computer, even though that was uncommon in the early 90’s,” Maggie said. She eagerly switched majors to study health informatics after discovering the field at university, and gained hands-on experience working as a project analyst for the University Health Network in Toronto.

In 2015, during Maggie’s graduate program, she became a patient herself after tearing her meniscus. “I got the impression the orthopedic surgery I needed would be no big deal, but I wasn’t prepared for how intense recovery would be,” Maggie said. “I realized I didn’t know how to gauge normal symptoms of recovery or when to call my doctor.”

She recalled scheduling a treatment for her knee before commuting to work, not realizing that she’d be in significant pain later that afternoon. “I could have planned ahead and scheduled things differently if I had known,” she said. 

Her mum flew to Toronto to help Maggie take care of daily tasks after surgery, but recovery took longer than expected, and Maggie struggled after her mum returned home. “I needed someone to check in and ask ‘how’s your pain level?’ or ‘how is your wound healing?’, but there was no patient-to-provider texting,” she said. “If I needed to get in touch with my doctor, it was by phone calls.” The experience showed Maggie firsthand how much patients rely on hands-on guidance from their care teams. 

At Luma, Maggie has made it her mission to get the right information to patients. “When I started as a customer success manager, I realized that the right technology and processes could improve experiences like mine,” she said. Her experiences as a project analyst, and a patient herself, have helped her build workflows and technology to meet customers’ unique needs. “I love technology and computers, but I’m always trying to keep the patient’s real-life experience top of mind,” Maggie said. 

“Patient Success is thinking about what we can do for a patient’s care journey, instead of leaving it to them to be engaged,” Maggie said. In her operations role, she’s dedicated to helping patients be more successful across the Luma community. “Anything we can do to make other peoples’ lives easier, and in a way that scales, that’s powerful.” 

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.

“On a daily basis, something in our manual system fell through the cracks,” said Kristin Bowen, RN, about her past work as an oncology nurse. “I loved the patient care side – my patients often became like family – but I’d wake up in the middle of the night worried I’d forgotten to fax in a patient’s cardiology referral or give them important instructions written on one of my hundreds of sticky notes.” 

Kristin split her workdays between direct care and helping her patients navigate their next steps, including tests, referrals to other specialists, new cancer treatments, and anything else that arose during their healthcare journey. Details were documented manually, which meant hundreds of sticky notes to track.

She remembers having to choose between completing her manual follow-ups and teaching a much-anticipated class about what first-time chemotherapy patients and their families could expect.  “The paperwork was overwhelming at times, and meant that I spent more time managing paperwork than caring for my patients,” Kristin said. “It felt like a disservice when I needed to cancel the class, but at the end of the day, coordinating patient services took priority.”

Eventually, patients felt the direct impact of an inefficient system. “When patients with GI cancers were scheduled for surgery, they were handed a piece of paper with a long list of prep instructions. If a patient missed a step, the surgery sometimes had  to be rescheduled at the last minute. That meant unused OR time for the hospital, and it was extremely frustrating for the patient, who likely took time off or had family in town to help with recovery.”

After 10 years in direct patient care, Kristin decided to make a difference in other ways, working in policy advocacy and research with Medicaid before joining the Luma team.
As a customer success manager, Kristin sees the impact of technology on clinical outcomes. “Patients are just people trying to live their lives,” she said. “They don’t have unlimited time or energy for repeat trips to the pharmacy or daily calls for their place on the waitlist. I love knowing that when I take a manual task off a nurse’s plate, it means they’re able to make life easier for their patients. I wish I had something like Luma when I was a nurse!”

Why Patient Success is a series from Luma staff about their experiences as patients and caregivers navigating the healthcare system.

“I’d been experiencing symptoms for weeks before I mentioned anything to my doctor. I was in a lot of pain, but I thought it was normal,” said Ashley Gordon, who leads technical documentation at Luma Health. In late 2018, Ashley started experiencing abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding, which her OBGYN diagnosed as a symptom of a large uterine fibroid.

Only after her diagnosis – over a year after incapacitating symptoms began – did Ashley discover that uterine fibroids are a common condition affecting 20-70 percent of women during their reproductive years. “There are a lot of conditions that women don’t always talk about or get diagnosed with,” said Ashley.

For Ashley, open communication was vital during her treatment and eventual surgery. She says the ability to message her provider’s office with questions was both convenient and reassuring. On the other hand, when her ultrasound results were released early, “no one reached out, and I panicked.” Ashley said. “I read the results but didn’t understand what they meant for me and my care journey. I didn’t know what to do.”

Ashley is feeling better since her 2019 surgery, but she still feels a sense of vigilance and urgency around her health. “Every month, I’m still concerned,” she said. “Am I bleeding heavier than usual? What is normal supposed to be? And who do I talk to about this, if needed?”

The experience validated Ashley’s mission as a technical writer at Luma Health. She’s passionate about playing a part in keeping communication candid and open between patients and providers.

“Messaging was so valuable for me as a patient – anytime I needed to reach my doctor, I could send a quick message. It’s been meaningful for me to be able to work with the product team at Luma on features like patient-initiated texting, so that patients can stay in touch with their providers. I love using my writing skills to improve the lives of doctors and (especially) patients.” 

Ashley encourages anyone experiencing health concerns or symptoms of any kind to communicate with their care teams and feel confident in advocating for themselves. 

“Patient Success is about empowering patients to have control over their healthcare journey – especially those who might not feel comfortable speaking up,” Ashley said. “I saw firsthand how important that was in my own healthcare journey.”