Even prior to the COVID-19 disruptions, Vituity—one of the country’s largest multi-specialty physician partnerships—had plenty of experience with its staff working remotely. Many of the 4,200 doctors and clinicians at this physician-owned and-led organization spend much of their time working in the more than 400 hospitals and other health facilities around the country that need their specialty medical services.
Also, the organization’s recruiters regularly do their work—interviewing candidates, placing physicians with the hospitals that need them, discussing staffing needs with their healthcare clients—from home or the road.
So, when Vituity began reviewing its own operations looking for ways to improve efficiencies, the organization found that much of its office space was vacant more often than not. The problem was, Vituity’s legacy phone system didn’t allow these on-the-go employees to conduct business calls from outside the office.
And although the organization didn’t know it at the time, Vituity’s search for a more flexible communications solution also prepared its team to continue operating—and providing outstanding patient care—when the pandemic led to lockdown orders.
Cloud communications helps with care navigation and telehealth
With the all-in-one cloud communications solution from RingCentral, Vituity was able to equip its physicians and support staff with the ability to stay connected to patients, clients, and each other from anywhere, using any device—without having to give out their personal phone numbers.
One of the first programs the organization developed to take advantage of its cloud phone solution was to assign “care navigators” to stay in contact with patients after treatment. As Chief Information Officer Amith Nair points out, Vituity physicians will typically see and treat patients in the hospital setting. These patients usually want to get discharged as soon as possible so that they can get back to the comforts of their own home. “But our doctors feel more comfortable discharging patients when they know that there will be a navigator, helping the patient to follow their discharge instructions–for example visiting their primary care physician, seeing specialists, and getting and taking appropriate medications.”
Giving Vituity’s care navigators the ability to conduct patient calls from any device made it a lot easier to follow up regularly with patients after discharge and gave these navigators the help they needed to make sure the patients were on track to a healthy recovery. Care navigators could call a patient to check-in, and if that patient required help, the navigator could connect them right away with a doctor who could take the call on the RingCentral app.
“Just having this improved communication from care navigators and doctors meant we reduced the risk of readmission by < 21% at a few of our pilot sites,” says Amith. “It was amazing.”
Phone service isn’t the only communication format Vituity is taking advantage of on the RingCentral all-in-one platform. The organization is also using the built-in video conferencing tool, RingCentral Meetings, for telehealth sessions during the pandemic. In fact, hundreds of Vituity’s physicians are using RingCentral Meetings to conduct telehealth sessions with patients at nearly 40 hospitals. As Amith points out, Vituity doctors at one hospital found a particularly innovative way to triage patients via telehealth when the hospital set up trailers and bunk beds as patient sick bays.
“Because we had RingCentral for telehealth, we were able to connect iPads to patient beds so that our physicians could reach more patients on their rounds. A physician would log in, and then a patient would use the interface through an iPad from bed, and the two would have a virtual chat to get that patient the help they need.”
Originally published Aug 20, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022