DrChrono App Store Illustrates Important Point

In a recent post, my colleague John Lynn argued that EHRs won’t survive if they stick to a centralized model.  He contends — I think correctly — that ambulatory practices will need to plug best-of-class apps into their EHR system rather than accepting whatever their vendor has available. If they don’t create a flexible infrastructure, they’ll be forced to switch systems when they hit the wall with their current EHR, he writes.

Demonstrating that John, as usual, has read the writing on the wall correctly, I present you with the following. I think it illustrates John’s point exactly. I’m pointing to EHR vendor DrChrono, which just announced that billing and collections company Collectly would be available for use.

Like its peers, Collectly built on the DrChrono API, and will be available in the DrChrono App Directory on a subscription basis. (The billing company also offers custom pricing for large organizations.)

Other apps featured in the app directory include Calibrater Health, which offers text-based patient surveys; Staple Health, a machine learning platform that providers can use to manage at-risk patients and Genius Video, which sends personalized video via text message to educate patients. Payment services vendor Square is also a featured partner.

Collectly, for its part, digitizes paper bills and sends billing statements and collection notices to patients via text or email. The patient messages include a link to the patient portal which offers a billing FAQ, benefits and insurance info and a live chat feature where experts offer info on patient insurance features and payment policy. The live chat staffers can also help patients create an approved payment schedule on behalf of a practice.

While some of the DrChrono apps offer help with well-understood back-office issues – such as Health eFilings, which help practices submit accurate MIPS data –  those functions may be duplicated or at least partially available elsewhere. However, apps like Collectly offer options that EHRs and practice management platforms seldom do. The number of best of breed apps that an EHR won’t be able to replicate natively is going to continue to increase.

Integrating consumer-facing apps like this acknowledges that neither medical practice technology nor its staff is terribly well-equipped to bring in the cash from patients. It may take outside apps like Collectly, which functions like an RCM tool but talks like a patient, to bring in more patient payments in for DrChrono’s customers. In other words, it took a decentralized model to get this done. John called it.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • This makes sense, but one (and maybe the only, or at least a major) problem with a decentralized model is that now the customer is forced to seek help/support/troubleshooting from as many “bolt-on” applications as they utilize. Now we’ve got 5 support tickets in 5 different help desk applications, and our hours spent troubleshooting and responding to those has increased significantly. Where we used to notify the EHR vendor that there was an issue, now we’re notifying someone else – once we figure out whose issue it belongs to.

  • Karen,

    You make a good point.

    Given these issues, do you think it’s worth going back to a single-vendor model? If not, is there a more efficient way to manage multiple vendors?


  • Anne,
    I see the value in a decentralized model. I don’t have a solution to the troubleshooting issue. Maybe it’s an opportunity for someone to offer a centralized support portal for decentralized applications.

  • Karen,
    There’s always a balance between decentralized and support. That’s why you don’t want to go too crazy with 3rd party applications and you want to have a clear understanding of which companies is delivering which service.

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