Since launching in 2005, Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare, the largest provider of its kind in Colorado, has grown impressively to more than 3,700 patient visits per week and 185 clinicians. With a sharp focus on scalable growth, Solace chose Skedulo to solve the pain of optimally matching clinicians to patients, scheduling appointments, and helping manage pediatric care delivered in the home.
About Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare
Solace Pediatric Home Healthcare provides in-home pediatric nursing, occupational, physical, and speech/language therapy services to children from birth to 18 years in their home, pre-school, or natural setting. The company’s mission is to provide quality services that will help each child reach his or her best life with minimal disruption to their daily lives and activities. Their highly skilled clinicians are deeply passionate about providing the best service possible to the kids they see. And that drive comes straight from the top.
“We’re a unique organization in that our leadership is primarily clinicians,” says CEO Darcie Peacock. “Giving our mobile clinicians options and control over how they spend their time is part of our strategy for recruiting and retaining the best pediatric clinicians in the state.”
As its business grows rapidly–weekly home visits have increased by 50% YoY–Solace is constantly looking for ways to innovate its operations and better support its mobile clinicians as they serve patients and their families. Solace needed a flexible, unified system to respond quickly to referrals, match clinicians to families, schedule appointments, and collect data to make strong decisions for the future. Most importantly, they wanted a system that would help them advance in their mission and provide the best service possible to families.
“In healthcare, you have fewer resources that you need to do more with, so building efficiencies is a top priority for everybody. But don’t stop there. If we had only been looking to solve the scheduling issue and respond faster, we would have missed a lot of opportunities for our organization and our customers.”
Delays and Broken Systems Impacted the Mission
As Solace continues to grow, the team’s dedication to its core values and those they serve remains the same. Investing in the right technology has always been a tool the company uses to advance its mission and service to children and families in addition to improving operations and efficiency.
This is why several years ago, Solace tried another product for managing clinical schedules and matching patients to caregivers. Even with that system in place, the business was still relying on email communication to make important scheduling and assignment decisions. As Solace grew to as many as 85 evaluations each week, this manual process simply could not keep up with demand, nor was it making things easier for their clinicians.
Delayed Action and Lost Data
For a provider like Solace, the typical duration of service with a family is over a year, and there is enormous urgency at the beginning of the relationship to respond quickly to the families.
“It comes down to the families first,” says Asya Rudikoff, Manager of Physical and Occupational Therapy at Solace. “Some of these families might have gotten recent diagnoses for their kids. They might be in a state of panic and really need support. So while we’re working out all of these operational pieces behind the scenes, these kids are sitting there waiting for us to get started. So there was a huge impact from the delay of getting these services to our families and overall access to care to the families that we serve.”
Solace was struggling to keep up with the demand for its services. After receiving a referral or request for service from a family, the team responsible for onboarding patients and choosing their clinicians then had a hefty set of tasks to accomplish, punctuated by long wait times, just to get to an evaluation. The employee scheduling system they had in place simply did not work as promised and was not solving the problems of managing a workforce of mobile clinicians.
“When we’d get referrals, first we’d have to think about which clinicians served the area. Then we’d have to think about who of the clinicians had availability and the right skills: who is a speech therapist, speaks Spanish, and has feeding training, for example. Then we’d email out to those clinicians. Then we’d wait and wait to hear back from them,” says Peacock. Not only was this manual process a challenge to the office staff, but for the clinicians on the go, as well.
“We’ve all been out there on those visits, and we know it’s really challenging when you are working with a family to turn around, check your email, and try to respond really quickly to a referral,” says Peacock. Delayed responses turned into lost opportunities when other pediatric services responded faster to a referral. “We’d go back to our referral source at the end of the day and hear, ‘Never mind, we already found someone,’” says Peacock.
Back at the office, inconsistency and manual workarounds to compensate for the broken system compounded the problem. It also made it nearly impossible for Solace to track the data it wanted to make better business decisions.
“Everybody on our patient access team had their own system. Many had their own intricate maps of where the clinicians were in the area they were responsible for finding referrals. It made things very challenging, especially if somebody was out or we had a challenge to solve with a particular family,” says Rudikoff.
“It made it difficult for tracking purposes, to get any sort of data or trend how many referrals we were getting, in which disciplines and areas. It made it difficult to understand what our needs were from a hiring standpoint,” Rudikoff says. “Everyone was doing their own version of a tech system.”
The Importance of Matching Patient to Clinician
In addition to speed of response to an initial referral, Solace wanted support to ensure that they were always assigning the best clinician who would be available to that family for the duration of service. Minimizing disruption to the families’ lives is an important part of Solace’s mission.
“It’s really important that we get it right, right off the bat,” Peacock emphasizes. “If our initial clinician wasn’t the best-fitting person who was actually closest, and that drive gets to be too long over time, she may need to transition the patient to another clinician. That child has already formed a bond and has a connection to that initial clinician. They have to almost start all over if we move a new clinician into that territory. It delays their progress toward their goals.”
The previous scheduling system was not robust or customizable enough to meet the clinicians’ needs, especially in a mobile context. They could not efficiently check their schedules, manage patient availability, or book appointments on their mobile devices.
Even worse, the system crashed regularly一like when team members were on the phone with families trying to schedule appointments一and resulted in serious errors like double bookings or preventing clinicians from checking in and out of visits.
Solace knew that they needed to find a new solution that was mobile friendly if they were going to keep their top talent and best serve their families. The team needed a mobile workforce management platform that could address the specific challenges of delivering home healthcare, scale with their business, and allow for customization where necessary.
“Our customers use Amazon and Uber, so they are coming to expect that higher level of technology. Much of the healthcare industry is lagging in that. We’re trying to be a leader. ”
“Transformational” Change with Skedulo
Once the team at Solace learned about Skedulo, they moved quickly to evaluate the platform and company as a potential partner. Rudikoff remembers, “We were so excited that something that we thought only existed in a vision actually existed in a technological platform. We set up the demo and realized this was going to be a partnership that was worth investing in.”
One of the keys to Solace’s success with Skedulo was the strategic and deliberate manner in which the leadership executed their internal change management. The leadership team communicated purposefully with their mobile clinicians that a change was coming and explained how Skedulo would improve their ability to serve families.
“All of our clinicians are in this to make a difference for the families. So always helping them to understand how operational changes impact the families built a lot of trust as we moved toward implementing Skedulo,” says Peacock. The leadership also understood that implementing a mobile workforce management solution would have a broad impact beyond scheduling.
“It might not seem as though Skedulo will impact billing, or our health information management team, or our nursing team, but it truly does. So taking the time to understand what every department needs from this software in order to be successful a whole organization was really valuable,” says Rudikoff.
A Better Experience for Families and Clinicians
With its thoughtful use of the Skedulo platform, Solace has transformed how it engages with its patients and supports its mobile clinicians. Tangibly, this means faster and more accurate communication with families, reduced administrative burden on clinicians, and less time spent driving.
“We wanted to engage differently with our customers,” says Peacock. “So now we use Skedulo to text them when we’ve found an evaluation spot for them. We do not have to play phone tag and make sure that this works when they are busy with their children. We also text the families a reminder before the appointment, and again when the clinician is on the way.”
On Sunday afternoons, Solace’s families receive an email with their therapy schedule for the week. Many patients receive more than one kind of therapy from Solace, which can make appointments hard to track and leads to patient no-shows. With a reliable and accurate weekly email, “it helps set them up for success and significantly impacts the clinicians because people don’t forget their appointments,” says Rudikoff.
Skedulo has also improved real-time communication between families and clinicians while reducing the administrative burden for therapists on the go.
“Before, when a clinician was coming out of appointments, which are set up back-to-back, if they were running a few minutes behind, they’d have to stop and send a text to that family to let them know,” explains Peacock. “The system does that for them now.”
Altogether this has led to an 84% reduction in patient no-shows for appointments, just within one quarter of using Skedulo. And it’s not the only results Solace has seen. Skedulo also helps reduce Solace clinicians’ time spent driving from appointment to appointment.
“Our clinicians were spending a lot of time in the car. Some of that is the nature of home health, but we also realized we could have a lot more control over that to make sure that the clinicians—who are highly skilled and educated and are here to provide the best services for these kids—are spending their time treating patients instead of driving around town,” says Rudikoff.
“It’s been transformational for what we can provide to all of our customers. There are so many ways we’ve ended up using Skedulo that we couldn't imagine when we began this process. That’s what we love about the Skedulo platform.”
Breaking Down Silos and Hiring for the Future
Like most healthcare companies, Solace operates on an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system and found that while the system tracked myriad details and metrics about their business, it was not supporting the type of strategic decision making they aspired to have. Adding Skedulo to their technology stack has allowed Solace to be more forward thinking.
“The EHR tells us what we did. Skedulo tells us what our potential is–from all different angles,” says Peacock. “It helps us break down the silos between departments.” One area this has been most evident is in recruiting new clinicians, a major challenge in an industry with a notorious talent shortage.
“Skedulo and Salesforce give us a bigger picture view outside of the metrics inside our EHR. One of our biggest goals is to make more strategic decisions that require coordination between the therapy team and the marketing and recruiting team. As we have visibility into schedules, caseload capacities, and openings in different areas for different disciplines, we’re able to have more intelligent conversations with our recruiting team to determine where we need to add more people,” says Rudikoff. “It’s really elevating our game from a recruiting and operational standpoint.”
“We've had an overwhelmingly positive response about ease of use. We regularly hear from clinicians how our centralized, mobile scheduling system is a game changer in the market. It's a huge selling point from a recruiting and marketing standpoint.”
Solace Serves Families Better with Skedulo
“Our biggest goal at Solace is taking care of our families, and we do that by taking care of our clinicians. If we can take the administrative burden off them, if we can let them go out and be clinicians and let them do what they are trained to and serve these families, then these families ultimately get better care,” says Rudikoff.
As Solace looks to the future and continuing its rapid growth, the leadership is confident they have the right technology to scale and innovate with them over time.
“Right from the start, we saw that Skedulo was going to make our lives easier. We know that we’ll be different in another year. We feel like we’ve got a great partner and that we can keep transforming how we use the platform and better the lives of our families and our clinicians,” says Peacock.