From 4 Platforms to 1 — This Small Healthcare Practice Consolidated Telehealth, Phone, Chat Using Zoom
When Pike Creek Psychological Center joined the mass migration to telehealth during the pandemic, the free telehealth platform it had used sporadically in the past became overwhelmed by demand. Judi Willetts, Ph.D., the center's co-director, knew they needed to find a new solution.
“We moved to the free version of doxy.me and ran into problems with screens freezing. People had connectivity issues,” she said. “We had to get a more robust platform.”
There were other issues, too. Therapists and staff working at home during the pandemic couldn’t access their desk phones at the office. And the messaging app that staff used to communicate had limited functionality.
Willetts started researching new telehealth platforms and quickly realized Zoom might be the answer to many of her communications challenges.
From four platforms to one
Willetts learned that Zoom for Healthcare could help consolidate and replace Pike Creek’s pure-play telehealth system, virtual phone line, instant messaging app, and on-premises phone system.
“Zoom could solve the telehealth problem, plus three other problems that hadn’t even gotten on to my agenda, and I realized it was comparable, price-wise. I thought it was nothing short of a miracle,” Willetts said.
‘Our clients love telehealth’
Along with the ability to consolidate communications, a main selling point for switching to Zoom was its ubiquity. “People like using Zoom because they’re familiar with it,” Willetts said.
Although about a quarter of Pike Creek’s therapists and staff are back in the office, only a tenth of patients have returned to in-patient appointments. “Our clients love telehealth,” Willetts said. “People like the convenience. We have much better connectivity now, a much clearer picture.”
She predicts that in the long term, many of their appointments will still be virtual — not just because of the convenience, but because telehealth provides greater flexibility. Therapists can work with clients in ways they weren’t able to previously.
“Being able to meet with people who are in two different locations is huge. Sometimes we have couples who are separated and living in different houses. Or a student can call in from school while their parent calls in from work,” Willetts said. “That’s not possible in person, and other platforms couldn’t have more than one person.”
Having a telehealth option also helps patients keep their appointments. “We definitely have fewer no-shows and cancellations. Some patients will call and say they can’t make their in-person appointment, but they can do telehealth,” Willetts explained.
As more states enact PSYPACT legislation, which allows licensed psychologists to practice telepsychology in multiple states with the proper PSYPACT credentials, Willetts believes telehealth will become even more integral to Pike Creek’s practice. “We have some niche specialties and will be able to get clients from out of state, as well as continue seeing clients who go to college or move away for other reasons,” she said.
‘It’s made things more streamlined’
Zoom hasn’t just transformed how Pike Creek therapists deliver telehealth, it also keeps the entire staff connected to each other and to their clients. Willetts wants to continue to allow staff to work remotely when they want, and Zoom provides that flexibility.
“It’s made things more streamlined,” Willetts said. “Before, we’d go to Slack to send a message, iPlum to text a client, doxy.me for telehealth. Now, we open the Zoom app, and that’s where we work all day long.”
In Zoom Chat, they have channels for various groups and topics, including a how-to for using Zoom that houses tips and step-by-step instructions. There’s a staff-wide chat where Willetts drops meeting notes and updates, and a chat channel for therapists to share resources with each other.
Using the call queue and auto-attendant feature on Zoom Phone has enabled staff members to manage calls while working remotely. Zoom Phone also allows therapists to send text messages to clients without revealing their personal phone number.
“I like the ease of use and cost-effectiveness of it,” she said. “Instead of four different things, I have one platform that incorporates them all. There are fewer bills to pay and fewer contracts to understand. It’s made things a lot easier.”
Visit zoom.us/healthcare to learn about Zoom’s multipurpose platform for telehealth, staff communications, and more.