Under normal circumstances, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) provide direct access to primary care across their communities. But COVID-19 has placed these facilities directly on the front line, serving patients who otherwise may not have anywhere else to go besides the ER.
That’s why when the pandemic began impacting Ohio, Family Health Services of Darke County (Family Health) – an FQHC serving over 34,000 patients at five locations across western Ohio – knew they needed to rework how they would provide care for patients.
Acting quickly, Family Health consolidated services to their Greenville office, instituted new infectious disease protocols, temporarily shifted resources away from routine primary care, and transitioned some of their staff to work remotely in alternating intervals.
But these operational changes posed a major challenge for their communications – how would they be able to stay connected with so many displaced employees?
Mobilizing Their Healthcare Team
In 2019, Family Health’s IT Director Brian Subler worked with ENA to upgrade 181 of their on-prem phones to ENA’s managed, cloud-based VoIP system, ENA SmartVoice, setting up their in-office communications for success. As part of ENA’s COVID-19 response, all ENA SmartVoice customers were given complimentary access to the ENA SmartVoice Go mobile app and desktop client through June 30, which enables users to turn their cell phone or computer into their desk phone extension.
Recognizing the opportunity to mobilize the Family Health team in a way that wasn’t possible before, Brian notified staff members about the app and encouraged them to install it on their smartphones.
Brian said Family Health’s staff were able to easily download the app and appreciated the instant ability to take their work extensions with them no matter where they were operating from.
“We have many people who are temporarily working remotely and away from their normal offices, so staff members have really liked being able to take their number with them, make calls, and check their voicemails on the go,” says Brian. “Personally, it’s been very helpful to be able to carry my phone with me as I run to various meetings and know that people can still get ahold of me while I’m away from my desk.”
Ensuring Business and Care Continuity
In addition to mobility, ENA SmartVoice Go has equipped Family Health with the ability to keep business continuity and critical care services running during this extraordinary and uncertain time.
Most notably, Family Health’s billing department – one of the clinic’s most indispensable teams – has been able to continue operations using the app.
“Our billing team currently alternates working from home so having the capability for billing to continue submitting and processing payments is vital,” says Brian.
“We’re an essential business, so being able to communicate during this crisis has allowed us to continue having our locations run smoothly and operate the way they should, both internally and for patients,” says Brian.
Facilitating Communications without Sacrificing Confidentiality
In a highly regulated environment like healthcare, confidentiality and privacy is always a top concern. With ENA SmartVoice Go, Family Health’s administration, staff, and medical providers are able to communicate on-the-go without having their personal cell phone numbers exposed.
“It’s still so important for our doctors to be able to get in touch with nurses working remotely to discuss patient care,” says Brian. “At the same time nobody wants their personal cell phone number being exposed externally, so the fact that our doctors, nurses, and staff can keep their cell phone numbers confidential while facilitating communications with each other and patients is incredibly valuable.”
Continuing Communications in the Age of Coronavirus and Beyond
Now that their staff is empowered with tools to communicate in-office and on-the-go, Family Health can focus efforts on continuing to provide public health and primary care services to their patients and communities.