Golden Living enhances post-acute healthcare with efficient and effective collaboration using Cisco technologies.
Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Golden Living is a nationally recognized post-acute healthcare provider, with more than 300 Skilled Nursing Facilities and more than 40,000 employees located across the United States. From long-term care and nursing services to sub-acute care and rehabilitation therapy, the Golden Living family of companies provides a broad range of health and wellness programs with one simple goal: to help people live fuller, longer, and more productive lives.
When Neil Kurtz, M.D. took the helm in 2008 as CEO of Golden Living, he brought with him a wealth of experience in the healthcare arena, as well as a new long-term strategy focused on creating more effective care. “This mandate not only focused on how we can operate more cost effectively, but how we can provide better care, meaning more time at the bedside and less time keying data into systems,” says Randy Cates, vice president of IT at Golden Living.
Like any healthcare organization, Golden Living faces a number of challenges, many having to do with collaboration. For one, the company must align multiple business lines, and have them coordinate work to deliver efficient patient care. Second, there’s the issue of distance. “Each one of our LivingCenters has an Executive Director who consults with a Director of Operations,” says James Jackson, IT Director at Golden Living. “This Director of Operations assists multiple centers, and for them to drive to all their facilities could take as long as two weeks.”
Recognizing collaboration tools as a way to accelerate such tasks, Cates and Jackson devised a technology proposal to present to the Board of Directors (or Executive Committee). “While travel savings were an obvious driver, what really sold them was the productivity gains,” says Cates. “Video conferencing was the first technology we looked at to enhance our workflows.”
Initially, one of the business units proposed a free audio/video calling service as a solution. However, Golden Living’s IT department was quick to argue against it. “With more than 40,000 employees, we just didn’t see how we could control the bandwidth with a simple consumer video service, plus security was a big concern because of our requirement to comply with regulations like HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act],” says Cates. “Instead we told them, ‘we can find you a similar solution but have it be enterprise-based so that we can control performance and receive the level of support we need.’”
Enhancing Productivity with Cisco Collaboration Technology
Offering high-quality video, mobile access and enterprise-class features and support, Cisco WebEx® technology proved just what Golden Living needed to boost collaboration. Now, meetings for Directors of Operations (DOs) that used to take up to two weeks to complete can be done in a single day. “With WebEx, we can have all of the DOs’ clients on the screen at once, saving the time and money that would have been required to visit each one in person,” says Jackson.
In addition to deploying the Cisco® WebEx Enterprise Suite, Golden Living also decided to replace its previous audio conferencing solution with Cisco Unified MeetingPlace®, because it tied into the company’s overall Cisco Unified Communications Manager infrastructure. Cisco Gold Certified Partner General Datatech led the effort to deploy unified communications, and was instrumental in helping Golden Living’s IT team configure Cisco MeetingPlace to integrate with Cisco WebEx. “General Datatech was an extremely valuable partner in this project,” says Jackson. “Rather than going at it from a direction that would make them the most money, they instead focused on what they felt was the best fit for us. Along with Cisco, we know this is a company that will stick with us for the long run.”
These solutions are running on virtualized Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS™) C-Series servers. This way, the company can take advantage of the cost savings that come with having an on-premise audio conferencing solution, while easing management with the integrated web conferencing capabilities delivered through the Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud.
The Cisco Jabber™ UC Client also plays a critical role in day-to-day communication at Golden Living, particularly within administration. With instant messaging, presence indicators, and click-to-call features, employees have multiple modes of interacting with each other, giving them the right tools at the right times. “The fact that we can easily escalate from an instant message, to a phone call, to a WebEx meeting, makes Cisco Jabber ideal for workplace collaboration,” says Cates. The Jabber client also works on a variety of different devices, giving administrators and clinicians the flexibility to chat with each other from any form factor.
In a similar fashion to how the company approaches patient/resident care, Golden Living also deployed Cisco TelePresence® for video collaboration between its executive team in Plano, Texas, and another centralized office in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Executives are using TelePresence Movi desktop client and C40 and C60 conference room systems to enhance their weekly or monthly check-in meetings with an in-person experience. “What Cisco TelePresence brings is a more intimate conversation,” says Jackson. “We use Cisco TelePresence WebEx OneTouch to combine the high-definition video quality of TelePresence with the anywhere accessibility of WebEx to make sure everyone can attend meetings.”
With a comprehensive portfolio of Cisco collaboration and communication solutions, Golden Living is able to achieve exactly what it sought to do: be more productive and efficient, so employees can spend more time at the bedside with patients and families. “Our Cisco infrastructure has drastically changed the way we operate day to day,” says Cates. “For me, it was especially important to not just enable these workflows, but allow employees to facilitate the process themselves. They don’t have to wait for IT to provide technical assistance every time they want to collaborate remotely. They can do it all on their own now.”
Along with productivity gains provided by solutions such as the Cisco Jabber UC Client, Golden Living also sees major cost savings, particularly around audio conferencing. “We project close to $300,000 savings per year in audio conferencing alone,” says Cates. “And there’s no risk of meetings overlapping. With Cisco Unified MeetingPlace, each conference has a unique number and its own line, so there’s none of the traditional worries when using a typical conference line with a single conference code number.”
These benefits are especially apparent when Golden Living uses Cisco WebEx technology with Cisco Unified MeetingPlace to deliver staff training and events. “Previously we conducted training using an audio conferencing system, with an operator helping route calls and track attendance,” says Jackson. “A large event could cost as much as $10,000. But with Cisco audio and web conferencing tools, that’s no longer a management and cost issue we have to worry about. We simply pay a monthly fee, which is far less expensive.” The user experience is also simplified, as they now have a single point of setup, attendance, and meeting control.
The best part for Cates and Jackson is that they now have a strategic partner they can turn to for all their collaboration needs. “When it comes to technology, we only work with a handful of truly strategic partners, and we’re proud to name Cisco as one of them,” says Cates. “With each new collaboration tool or feature that Cisco releases, we’ll likely be integrating that as well.”
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