How One Innovative Physician Practice Found Yet Another Way to Improve Patient Care
Because we could now stay in closer contact than before with patients, we saw a major reduction in hospital readmissions after our physicians treated them.
This entrepreneurial, physician-owned partnership has always looked for innovative ways to improve patient outcomes. Their latest innovation: implementing cloud communications.
Vituity’s origin story reads more like the early days of a Silicon Valley tech startup than a healthcare provider. The organization began in the garage of a California physician, who along with a few other doctors traveled by bicycle to local hospitals to provide specialty medical services.
Since that time—nearly a half-century ago—Vituity has become one of the largest providers of acute care management and healthcare solutions in the country. The organization’s 4,200 doctors and clinicians provide multi-specialty care to more than 400 hospitals and healthcare facilities in 14 states.
But as large as the partnership is today, Vituity’s entrepreneurial spirit still plays a role in its most important decisions—including finding innovative tools and technologies to empower its staff to deliver more effective care.
A phone system with acute problems
One of the systems Vituity knew it was time to retire was its legacy phone infrastructure, which was creating a lot of challenges. Doctors and clinicians needed to be in the office and use their desk phones to conduct business calls. The IT team had to maintain and administer a costly data center to keep the company’s communications functioning. And both staff and patients had frequent issues with call quality and reliability.
But in addition to these problems, Vituity’s Chief Information Officer, Amith Nair, also found another serious operational challenge: “When we studied how well we were utilizing our offices, we discovered our locations were vacant 60% of the time, because our employees were either telecommuting or traveling between hospitals,” he recalls. “We began to ask ourselves, ‘How can we get rid of our office phones?’”
Just having this improved communication from care navigators and doctors meant we reduced the risk of readmission by over 42%, and satisfied patients. It was amazing.
With RingCentral, Vituity’s communications get a clean bill of health
When Vituity implemented RingCentral’s work-from-anywhere cloud solution, they found the answer to all of its phone-related challenges. Most important: Physicians and clinicians could now take and make calls using their office numbers even if they weren’t actually in the office. That solved not only the issue of accessibility and efficiency but another challenge as well: security and regulatory compliance.
As Amith explains: “Our physicians could now give out their work numbers to patients and take those calls on their personal cell phones from anywhere. They weren’t exposing their private phone numbers–they were keeping patient communications secure through the RingCentral system. Most important, they were now accessible when patients needed to reach them.”
Leveraging cloud communications to improve patient outcomes
True to its roots, Vituity quickly found an innovative way to leverage its new cloud communications platform to improve patient care. The organization set up a team of “care navigators”—healthcare professionals who monitor patients’ progress after they’re discharged—with RingCentral accounts.
The idea was to stay in regular contact with patients after treatment for a full 90 days, to make sure they were visiting their primary doctors, taking necessary medications, and that they had rides to and from healthcare facilities for follow-up treatments. If a patient had a question or problem, the care navigator could connect them immediately with a physician—who could also receive calls anywhere through the RingCentral app.
“Among our Medicare and Medicaid patient demographic,” Amith explains, “just having this improved communication from care navigators and doctors meant we reduced the risk of readmission by over 42%, and satisfied patients. It was amazing.”
And because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) offers health providers financial incentives to lower their patients’ post-treatment risk of readmission to hospitals, Vituity even earned a monetary reward for these extraordinary patient outcomes—a reward the organization will use to find even more ways to improve care.