rater8’s founder and CEO, Evan Steele, knows the ins and outs of the healthcare industry well. So it may come as a surprise that his latest company, rater8, was actually born from a negative hotel check-in experience.
Evan has always held a personal passion for delivering phenomenal customer service, ergonomic software design, and the effective implementation of technology to improve patient care. His previous company, SRS Health, an electronic health records software company, won KLAS’s award for best customer experience. “Out of almost 500 EHR vendors,” Evan shared, “we came in first place.”
Maintaining that same standard since its official conception in 2015, rater8 enables medical practices to gather real-time patient feedback and build 5-star online reviews across the leading review platforms. With Evan’s leadership, rater8 has become the leader in healthcare reputation management.
Over a nice cup of virtual coffee, Evan shared with us his experience in the healthcare industry, the importance of online reputation management, how rater8 is making a difference for medical practices, and a splash of pickleball.
Every CEO has quirks to their daily routine, and we’re sure you’re no different. What does your typical routine look like?
As a CEO of a fast-growing company, the work never really stops. I’m always connected, one way or the other.
If I had to name a quirk, not every CEO shares deskspace with their spouse on a regular basis. My wife Shari, rater8’s Vice President of Human Resources, is typically working right beside me, and it’s normal for us to make comments on each other’s work throughout the day, which is fun.
You seem unsurprisingly busy. Is there anything from your routine that sticks out to you as something you look forward to every day?
As Shari can attest, I really look forward to my breakfast time. Besides enjoying a special oatmeal-and-smoothie-combo recipe to power my day, I just love working and engaging.
The best part for me is software design. When I get to have calls with the developers about how the software should behave and what new features should look like, that’s what I live for. That’s the best part of my day. I’m not a developer. I’ve never coded a day in my life, but I’ve always had a passion and knack for the design side of development.
Software development is certainly a central point of rater8. That being said, what do you feel is the most significant strength of rater8?
Easy—the people. I always say software itself is a bunch of zeros and ones, but it’s the people who make it, design it, sell it, and support it. We have an amazing team.
Looking at all the accolades and awards from Capterra, G2, athenahealth, and our recent Great Place to Work™ certification, simply having that award-winning customer support and service experience, plus a great software package, is our strength.
A lot of companies have great software, but ours is better in a lot of ways compared to many of our competitors.
Again, the biggest differentiator is the people who support our great product.
rater8 isn’t your first company. How did leading SRS prepare you for rater8?
Again, it comes down to the people. I strongly believe in maintaining a meritocracy—where promotion and salary are purely based on performance and not just on the number of years one has been working a certain role.
It’s essential to keep your most talented people engaged and progressing in their careers.
What I learned most from my first company was that a talented person should never have to wait for someone to vacate a position to get a promotion or gain more responsibility.
I also learned that pivoting is okay. It bothers many people, but sometimes you have to say, “I’m going in one direction, and we just make a left turn, switch gears, switch directions.” Sometimes pivoting is necessary to keep you at a competitive advantage, but not everyone is comfortable with that.
Also, I hate micromanaging. There are times where you do need to micromanage, get into the weeds, and ensure things get done a certain way. When that happens, I learned that you should try to solve problems. When you have a great person running a department or an area, and they are doing a great job, you have to step back and let them do their jobs. So, it’s a combination of micromanaging when you have to, but also trying to delegate and let people do their jobs if they are a good fit for it.
Those are some great takeaways! Looking at both companies, what led to SRS’s success, and what led to rater8’s success?
Both companies had extremely high client satisfaction scores. At SRS, we were a smaller company. We competed against the likes of Epic, Allscripts, and NextGen—all large companies worth millions (or billions!) of dollars.
SRS was small, and, similarly to rater8, we were able to compete by not being a “jack-of-all-trades” company. Companies often provide many services while not being great in every service area: they offer waiting room reminders, texting with patients, making patient payments, providing reputation management, sending patient surveys, running the check-in kiosks, and more.
They go a mile wide, so while they may do an excellent job, they fall short at being great at one or two things like rater8. We picked patient satisfaction surveys and reputation management and went deep with both. We have a really superior product that’s very well thought out.
Rather than trying to do everything, we focused on just a couple of things and became the best in the world at them.
Here at rater8, with our intelligent review-building algorithm pollin8™, our finely tuned workflow, how easy the software is to use, and the unique way we do micro-surveys—it makes us the best in the world at what we do.
We focus on those two feature sets and succeed at it, which is what we did at SRS as well.
What do you take the greatest amount of pride in?
The fact that we have uniformly happy clients and a culture where people want to come to work. Receiving awards for our level of service and becoming Great Place to Work-Certified™ are huge wins for rater8 and its employees.
Monday morning comes and it’s exciting; we’re growing and doing a great job at making our clients happy.
That's what I take the biggest pride in: making our clients and employees happy simultaneously.
Did you ever have a career outside of healthcare? How did you land in healthcare?
I fell into healthcare IT; it just kind of happened. I was a Wall Street banker, and I didn’t like that, so I left to work with my brother who is an ophthalmologist in New York City. We had such a problem with tedious paper charts, which is why we created an EHR. Necessity was the mother of invention. We had a problem, so we developed software and tools to solve that problem. That’s how I ended up in healthcare IT—it wasn’t planned.
I would hope if it weren’t for SRS or rater8, that I would be part of some software company in some industry that provides a massive return on investment and great results for clients. I think I would have found my place in any industry like that.
How did rater8 come to be? Where did you get your inspiration?
After selling SRS, I “retired,” but not for long. I went on vacation to Prague with my wife. We checked into a brand-name hotel, but I had a terrible check-in experience with the front-desk associate named “Federico.”
I wanted a way to provide feedback, specifically about this individual, but there was no easy way to do so. Instead, I received a 50-question survey from the hotel a week later. I use Uber all the time and love how I can immediately rate the driver after completing a ride. I would have loved the ability to rate Federico in real time, so this experience is what inspired me to start rater8. Originally, rater8 did not even focus on reputation management; it was just about providing quick and easy feedback about people.
Our bee mascot is named Federico, in honor of the front-desk associate at the Prague hotel. I originally thought of marketing rater8 to hotels, but decided to apply the idea back to healthcare, an industry I already knew inside and out.
Setting aside work, let's talk play. What are some of your outside interests and hobbies?
I love the beach. New Jersey isn’t known for its sandy beaches, so I like to stay on the coast and visit Florida to get some sun in.
Besides that, Shari and I are currently hooked on pickleball. We play a few times a week now. When the beach and pickleball aren’t on the agenda, we watch 8-star-rated streaming content. It has to be 8 stars or higher.
That’s a fun fact. Is there a specific source you check for your streaming content reviews?
IMDB. Once in a while, we watch shows that are rated under 8 stars, but we are usually not impressed (except for The White Lotus, which didn’t have the high ratings, but had us hooked). It’s like going to see a doctor who has a 3.5 rating rather than a 4.5—it makes a huge difference.
To wrap us up, do you have any advice for medical practices regarding online reputation management?
Get rater8. We build a perfect online reputation for you every time.