Centre for Neuro Skills

With RingCentral, This World-Renowned Brain-Injury Rehabilitation Clinic Lowered its Costs and Improved Patient Care
Centre for Neuro Skills logo
I had three priorities. We needed to lower our communications costs. We needed an all-in-one solution. And we needed a provider we could work with directly—not through a third-party reseller.

Joe Castillo

Regional Director of Operations
For four decades, the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) has been recognized as an experienced and respected world leader for providing intensive post-acute community-based brain injury rehabilitation. With facilities in California and Texas, the specially trained staff at CNS offers outcome-driven medical treatment, therapeutic rehabilitation, and disease management services for individuals recovering from acquired and traumatic brain injury.

Even well into the era of modern medicine, clinical therapies to improve the quality of life for brain-injury patients were all but nonexistent. The Center for Neuro Skills was founded to change that—and to help these patients retain or reacquire vital skills and independence.

When his brother Steve came home from the Vietnam War with a brain injury, Mark Ashley, then a teenager, was told his older sibling would likely spend the rest of his life in their parents’ home, confined to a bed, unable even to feed himself. At the time, the medical community had not yet developed clinical therapies to help people rehabilitate from brain injuries and regain some of their independence. But within a decade, Mark and wife his Sue were on the path to do just that.
Founded in 1980 by Mark and Sue Ashley, both young speech pathologists at the time, the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) has become an incredible success story. It changed life not only for Steve Ashley—who went on to regain the ability to speak, live independently, and even get married—but also for thousands of other patients suffering from brain injuries.
Today the organization spans six locations across California and Texas. Its team of 900 health specialists and support staff provide a wide range of rehab services—physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, disease management, mental-health counseling, etc.—to nearly 1,000 patients each year.
In fact, the organization’s reach is far greater than that. Thanks to its pioneering work over the last 40 years, CNS has contributed many best practices to the medical community—from clinical therapies to administering the right pharmaceuticals under the right circumstances—to help create the most positive outcomes for patients rehabilitating from brain injuries.

A telecommunications environment in need of major rehab itself

When Joe Castillo, who has been with CNS for 20 years, moved into his current role as Regional Director of Operations, one of his first major projects was to review CNS’s telecom infrastructure and find ways to lower the organization’s costs. “Our system was a real mess,” Joe says. “We had POTS lines and an expensive MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) system. Plus, we were maintaining separate services for video conferencing and instant messaging.”
And when he dug into the company’s phone bills, Joe found costly and confusing inefficiencies everywhere. Here’s one amusing example: “I found a phone line, which had been on our monthly bills for about a decade, that was apparently connected to an elevator phone in a building where CNS didn’t even operate.”
In addition to controlling costs, Joe’s other priority was to improve the staff’s ability to communicate in whichever format they preferred or needed. That had proved challenging with the company’s other platforms. “We had a limited number of licenses for our video conferencing solution, which meant people often had trouble setting up meetings,” Joe says.
Also, CNS used an instant-messaging platform connected to the company’s email program, which created problems with consistency. Joe explains: “That app was clunky and difficult to use. And when we sent an IM to a coworker, sometimes the message would come through the IM service as planned, but other times it would show up in the person’s email.”
Bakersfield, CA

The all-in-one communications solution they were looking for

After investigating offerings from several large providers, Joe found the decision to go with RingCentral an easy one. “The other major vendors we spoke with either didn’t have a true all-in-one solution, or they would work with us only through a third party,” Joe explains. “With RingCentral, we could see we had a true partner, and a true unified communications solution.”
When they first rolled out RingCentral, CNS’s staff migrated quickly and organically to their new cloud-based phone service—which they could use on any computer or mobile device—and RingCentral’s built-in team messaging service. “Everyone was thrilled with the messaging service because it was so easy to use and we knew we could reliably reach anyone in the company with it, because we all had it.”
Then, over time, more of the CNS staff began using RingCentral’s built-in video conferencing platform as well. “RingCentral Meetings also improved our communications,” Joe says, “because we were no longer limited on licenses. Everyone had the ability to book, schedule, or attend a video meeting with any of their coworkers or even with a patient.”
Integrating phone, messaging, and video into a single unified environment allowed CNS to unwind these relationships with its other communications vendors. As the team hoped, this helped the organization significantly lower its telecom costs. “I recently looked at our overall costs going back three years, when we rolled out RingCentral,” Joe says. “We’ve already saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we’re on track to continue that trend over time.”
RingCentral allowed us to replace a dinosaur telecom infrastructure with a communications solution that actually belongs in the 21st century.

Joe Castillo

Regional Director of Operations

An Implementation Team that made all the difference

Joe credits RingCentral’s Implementation Team with making the staff’s transition to their new communications solution smooth and efficient. He also notes that because the training, and onboarding were so well thought out, CNS was able to derive more value from RingCentral much more quickly and with much less disruption than if they had chosen another solution and vendor.
“The Implementation Team was excellent to work with. They examined our organization from top to bottom, figured out how various types of employees would be using the RingCentral system, and then created customized training sessions for each type of user. They even created training for those of us who’d become in-house trainers ourselves.”

Continuing to serve patients through the COVID lockdowns

While adoption and usage rates for RingCentral were relatively high among the staff soon after the rollout in early 2018, those rates skyrocketed in March 2020. When the pandemic lockdowns went into effect, Joe’s team quickly realized they already had a solution in place that would allow for remote telehealth sessions between CNS therapists and their patients.
“At our residential inpatient facilities, all we had to do was add RingCentral desktop apps to patients’ computers,” he explains. “And for group telehealth meetings, we connected computers to TVs in the common rooms and used the TVs as monitors. Within about four days, we were fully up and running with video-based rehab sessions for patients. It was incredible.”
These telehealth sessions proved extremely successful—and they led to feedback that Joe’s team found eye-opening. “Patients told us the video appointments were better than in-person visits to our clinics. They really appreciated being able to see their doctor face-to-face, to have that real connection, but to still be in their own home and surrounded by family members. It’s great to know that during COVID we were able not only to continue caring for our patients but to give them a method of care they actually preferred.”