davidc
David Carr
May 10, 2017
Healthcare
Messaging

RingCentral Glip in a Patient-Centered Clinic

As outpatient clinics play a bigger role in reorganizing healthcare around the needs of the patient, RingCentral Glip can help make care teams more efficient and effective.

Outpatient clinics are important because they fill the gap between the hospital and the traditional medical practice. Outpatient surgery centers allow many common procedures to be performed on a same-day basis, without the need for a hospitalization. Clinics help patients who have been discharged from the hospital complete their recovery and avoid expensive readmissions. They gather physicians and other healthcare workers with multiple specialties or related specialties under one roof, allowing them to do a better job of acting as a care team that coordinates the care of the patients they have in common.

For example, the team working on the care of a patient or group of patients with diabetes and other comorbid conditions might include a family member, physician, nurse practitioner, nutritionist, social worker, home care nurse, foot care specialist, and specialty consultants.

RingCentral Glip gives care teams a secure channel for communicating and collaborating about their work. As part of RingCentral Office, Glip can be configured as a “HIPAA conduit” for secure communications, including communications about private patient health information (PHI) as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and related regulations.

Using Glip allows healthcare workers to take advantage of the same sort of mobile computing tools in their professional lives that they do in their personal lives. They are as used to doing everything on their phones as everyone else, but without proper security sending a text message that includes patient information is a potential HIPAA violation. Now, a clinic that uses RingCentral Office as its business phone system gets secure mobile messaging for free.

RingCentral Glip is equally useful when accessed from a computer. Physicians, nurses, and other members of the care team can post secure messages in an environment that is linked to their business phone system. That means they can share text messages and files, call a colleague, or launch a conference call from within the context of the same work activity. Glip adds context to these conversations by allowing messages to be posted to persistent team conversations related to a specific administrative function (such as insurance claims processing or staff scheduling) or medical issue (such as care of a specific patient requiring multidisciplinary care).

The scenarios below illustrate how RingCentral Glip can help solve practical challenges for outpatient clinics.

Patient Centered Medical Home

This clinic has organized itself according the concept of a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), meaning that primary care physicians take responsibility for coordinating all the care delivered to a patient. The clinic employs physicians representing many of the common specialties patients might need to be referred to and also has close relationships with doctors at the major metropolitan hospital the clinic is affiliated with.

The PCMH model is one of the most important approaches to reducing the cost of care while improving its quality. From the beginning, the clinic’s leaders recognized that effective collaboration is absolutely essential to their mission. They have paid attention to details like ensuring the physical layout of the office includes room for both formal and ad hoc meetings or consultations. Before the start of office hours, team members meet in an informal “huddle” to plan their day and talk about patients requiring collaborative care.

RingCentral Glip becomes an extension of these efforts. Through better planning, the care team seeks to ensure that each team member contributes “at the top of their license,” meaning an MD should not do work that could be performed by a nurse or nurse practitioner, nor should a nurse do work that can be handled by a medical assistant. Just as importantly, rapid communication means the team is able to adjust quickly when the day doesn’t go as planned (as it rarely does).

Challenge: Care team members need to be able to spontaneously and rapidly seek advice from peers throughout the day.

Scenario where RingCentral Glip can help: A provider wants an opinion from a fellow doctor, a gerontologist, on a mutual patient they both see for a complex set of disorders. The decision the primary provider is hesitating over is whether to recommend hospitalization or hospice care. Both doctors are tightly scheduled throughout the day, meaning one is nearly always with a patient when the other is free. Glip lets them exchange a series of quick messages on their smartphones during breaks between appointments — ultimately coming to a decision even though they never do get a chance to meet in person or on the phone.

Secure mobile messaging allows two overbooked physicians come to a meeting of the minds.

Challenge: Care team members want to confirm or exchange patient health information quickly.

Scenario where RingCentral Glip can help: A provider thinks a medication is no longer covered by Medicaid but wants to be sure. Without interrupting her examination of the patient minute for more than a moment, she sends a Glip message to the team that handles Medicaid claims. Before the patient visit ends, she checks Glip and is able to confirm her decision. She prescribes another medication instead.

Challenge: Care team members need to be able to give and get workload assistance from others when they are busy.

Scenario where RingCentral Glip can help: When a doctor is falling behind schedule, medical assistants know they can reach out to the clinic’s scheduling team to ask for help. Sending a quick message through Glip, often from a phone or iPad, allows them to do it without leaving the doctor’s side. The scheduling team may reassign appointments, where possible.

Or perhaps it’s a medical assistant who is assigned to redo an EKG while already overburdened with other tasks. He posts a request for help, which is answered almost immediately by a colleague with “free hands” who volunteers to take responsibility for the EKG.

Challenge: The limited time doctors spend with their patients may not give them a complete picture of their patients’ lives — or their finances. Even if other care team members have the missing pieces, they have no systematic way of sharing it.

Scenario where RingCentral Glip can help: A cardiologist tells an elderly woman to stop taking her current blood pressure medication and start a new prescription. He arranges for a visiting nurse, whom he is connected with through Glip, to follow up with the woman. Upon arriving at the home, the nurse discovers the woman’s blood pressure is dangerously elevated. The patient tells the nurse she stopped taking the old medication “like the doctor told me to” but hasn’t filled the new prescription because she was shocked by how high the copay is.

Glip helps the doctor and the visiting nurse connect while the nurse is still in the home — much faster would have happened in a typical game of “phone tag” — allowing the doctor to give instructions that the patient resume taking the old medication temporarily. Meanwhile, a social worker will follow up to see if the patient qualifies for additional financial assistance or a reduced priced medications program from the drug manufacturer.

A potential health crisis is averted thanks to collaboration that goes beyond the exam room.

Challenge: In a large clinic with dozens of doctors and nurses, patients will not always see the same doctor and nurse on a return visit. While healthcare professionals communicate through notes on the patient’s official medical record, those notes may not always be clear or complete.

Scenario where RingCentral Glip can help: Improving coordination of care with stronger care teams is an explicit goal of a PCMH clinic. The daily huddles are an important tool, and sometimes absent care team members will be consulted remotely via Glip to make sure everyone understands the care their patients require.

The clinic has also invested in training on better medical documentation, trying to make it as accurate as possible. Despite that, one doctor may still be confused or unclear about another doctor’s notes — or simply want more context to understand the case better. With Glip, a doctor can easily query the care team members who saw the patient last. If the issue is too complex for a secure text message, the caregivers can connect by phone, using Glip click-to-call to streamline that connection.

Imagine RingCentral Glip in Your Own Clinic

We picked a PCMH clinic for our main example to illustrate a multidisciplinary setting, but other more specialized clinics might use Glip to invite colleagues from other healthcare institutions to join them as guest users in a Glip team. These examples of where RingCentral Glip might be used are not necessarily where it will prove most valuable, but we hope they will get you thinking about how a unified way of communicating and collaborating can help your healthcare enterprise become more efficient and effective.

A slightly different version of this post appeared on the Glip blog.