We’ve officially passed the December midpoint, and as we all hustle and bustle to cross the last few names off of our holiday gift lists, WebPT’s Product Development team is working hard to deliver its final release of 2014. This update will include all of the Medicare and PQRS updates for next year. (How’s that for a last-minute gift?)

As we put the finishing touches on this release, we can’t help but take a step back and reflect on all of the features and enhancements we’ve launched this year. But there’s one very special update that—like Rudolph’s nose—shines particularly bright: the Patient Payment System.

Launched on September 12, the Patient Payment System streamlines the entire payment collection process. More specifically, this system allows clinics to record payment amounts for copays, coinsurances, and deductibles as well as retail supplies and wellness items.

So, what does it take to launch a new feature like the Patient Payment System to more than 40,000 WebPT Members? We thought we’d take a few moments to share our launch process with you. Here it is in five boiled-down steps.

1. Pick a launch date.

The Product Development team consists of several smaller teams assigned to particular projects. But all of these teams collaborate with one another to make sure every feature we release measures up to WebPT’s standard of providing the best physical therapy software in the industry. Once a group of developers finishes a particular item for our Members, we add that item into a release. Each release typically includes several different updates and enhancements. The Product, Quality Assurance, and Marketing teams then work together to create a launch plan and set a release date.

2. Make a plan.

Once we’ve chosen a release date, the Product Owner (i.e., the person who is responsible for building the feature) works with other members of the Product team—as well as with the Marketing team—to flesh out the technical specifications and other details as well as to educate the stakeholders on how the feature works as how it will benefit WebPT Members. The Product team also collaborates with the Marketing team to develop a go-to-market strategy and create release-related communication such as user guides and training materials. This ensures that every single WebPT Member knows why we’re launching a particular item and how that item will help them.

3. Spread the knowledge.

Before we hit the green button on the release, the Product team makes sure all of the necessary teams at WebPT—including Support, Implementations, Billing, and Sales—understand the ins and outs of the items included in the update.

4. Give a shout-out to the idea makers.

We love our Members for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the never-ending supply of inspiration that they provide us. In fact, many of the features and enhancements we include in our releases come from our Idea Portal—a section of the WebPT Community where Members can submit suggestions on how we can improve our software to better meet their needs. The week before we release a system enhancement, we comb through the Idea Portal and personally thank each and every Member who played a role in the product launch. We also publish an Ideas in Action note within the Idea Portal to thank our Members for their contributions.

5. Launch and celebrate!

In the hours leading up to a launch, we feel like children on Christmas Eve. All of the brainstorming, developing, and educating is done; all that’s left is to wait until the next morning to introduce the latest version of WebPT to our Members. After the release, we continue to gather Member feedback from the Idea Portal and our Member-facing teams. That way, we can incorporate that feedback into future updates.

How does this tie into the Patient Payment System I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well, this past weekend, we launched the second phase of this functionality, including several new enhancements that resulted directly from Member suggestions. If you haven’t learned about these enhancements yet, be sure to check out the Release Notes section of the WebPT Community.

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