Growing up in Dallas, Erika Grau originally thought she wanted to be a broadcast journalist so she studied at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
"I quickly realized that wasn't for me, but I really found I love marketing and turning a lead into a sale," she says. "I like seeing that conversion happen. It's something tangible to see and you can measure the results of your work."
That passion has found a home for the 28-year-old marketer in the growing telehealth field, first at Jellyfish Health for nearly two years in Panama City, Florida, and since March in Chattanooga at Rhinogram.
Rhinogram is a telehealth business in Chattanooga that allows patients and their medical providers to share information via texts, allowing for virtual consults and more direct and easier links between patients and their doctors. The telehealth platform is the third health tech startup begun in Chattanooga by orthodontist Keith Dressler, who started Rhinogram to serve the orthopedics field but has since expanded the business to include two dozen different specialities from among more than 220 physician and their users.
Unlike many other telehealth competitors, the patient never has to download an app or log into a portal with Rhinogram. Rhinogram is also one of the first telehealth platform that has a direct integration with Facebook messager.
The text messages are routed through Rhinogram to make sure they reach the targeted audience and remain HPPA-compliant for privacy.
Rhinogram also gives consumers the ability to store and later retrieve conversations and information shared between the doctor and patient. This summer Rhinogram introduced a new feature, RhinoPay, to allow doctors the ability to request and receive payments from patients over the phone.
The Chattanooga startup has grown to 30 employees with offices in Chattanooga and Charleston, South Carolina.
"What we see is that patients are not requesting this; they are demanding it," Grau says. "I loved the idea of not just being part of an IT company but also a company that will make an impact. We are changing health care and changing patient experiences."
Grau manages a customer relations management specialist, a graphics designer, a public relations team and a digital marketing specialist. Since joining the company, Grau has helped revamp the company's marketing message, redesigned the web site and expanded the staff as new services were provided.
"Every customer we have uses Rhinogram differently," she says.
To help draw more business to the growing company, Grau helps develop and oversee Rhinogram's presentations at 12 national healthcare shows, each ranging from 5,000 to 40,000 attendees.
Grau and two other Rhinogram managers also were a part of the 10-week Chattanooga HealthTech Accelerator program this spring by the Company Lab.
"It was a great learning experience and it was especially beneficial to see what other healthcare tech companies are doing and to be able to work with folks from both Erlanger and Unum was a great opportunity," she says.
Rhinogram could be expanded for hospital use, as well as its traditional physician network.
"Any business that needs to communicate with its customers could use Rhinogram," she says, noting that the company is already working with Purdue's veterinary program.
To help educate those are using Rhinogram, Grau also develops educational webinars.
"We want our customers to be successful so we have started this series on "How to grow your practice with Facebook," and I get one of our users and show how they use best practices for digital marketing," she says.
Rhinogram aids medical practices in getting more customers, improving their scheduling, boosting staff efficiency and improving both customer and employee satisfaction by improving the way communications are routed, Grau says.
"Marketing is the fuel for sales so my job is to create leads for sales," she says. "We've created a brand new process and our volume of leads is up 80% from a year ago. With the influx of leads, we've seen a 78% increase in net revenue year over year."