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RingCentral and SMS Drive CHG Healthcare Comms

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CHG Healthcare is a recruitment and staffing agency headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with offices around the country. The company is known for providing permanent and locum tenens (temporary fulfillment) services for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists, lab clinicians, and other healthcare professionals.
 
CHG Healthcare comprises five respected healthcare staffing brands: CompHealth, Weatherby Healthcare, RNnetwork, and Global Medical Staffing. Each brand covers a different area of expertise to help healthcare organizations find what they need and tailor a solution to address specific challenges like reduced revenue, patient care quality, and cost containment.
 
RingCentral is driving CHG Healthcare’s communication requirements. No Jitter recently spoke with Terry Smith, director, IT operations, to learn how they’ve changed since the start of the pandemic.
 
Tell us about CHG and its communication requirements.
TS: Being a staffing agency, we do a lot of calling and recruiting. In that regard, we don’t have a lot of traditional inbound call center types of requirements. Our communication needs are more complex. Because doctors and medical professionals are highly educated, there’s a definite need for a relationship-building experience between our employees and the individuals they’re reaching out to. A big part of that communication need is the ability for employees to have a one-on-one relationship with providers they’re working with.
 
How do you foster that relationship between employees and providers?
TS: Before, a lot of us were on the phone. Now, SMS is a big part of our communication requirement—as well as being able to have conversations via video.
 
How have your communication needs changed over the course of 18+ months?
TS: Pre-pandemic, CHG used an on-premises phone system. We didn’t see a lot of development or innovation happening with that on-premises solution. We could see the innovation was happening with cloud-based providers, so we had put together a three to five-year plan, knowing that we would need to transition [to the cloud].
 
Like everybody else, when COVID hit, we sent everyone home to start working. Fortunately, our legacy phone system did have a soft phone client that we were able to send everybody home with, but it required a VPN connection to work. There was a lot of overhead, so the quality wasn’t as good as it could be, and was a little more difficult to use.
 
Several months into this solution, the team stepped back and said, ‘look, we’re providing a private cloud type solution to our end users, why wouldn’t we go ahead and accelerate our three to five-year plan to move forward?’ So that was the impetus.
 
We were using Zoom at the time—everybody started using Zoom licensing and Zoom meetings a lot. CHG Healthcare discovered its licensing costs for Zoom started increasing because people needed to start having a licensed client rather than just a free client [due to the number of meetings]. So we saw a steep increase in cost as well because the need for videoconferencing had increased dramatically.
 
What are some of the technical considerations you kept top of mind when assessing how to meet the requirements for your employees?
TS: We’re a big Salesforce organization—so the Salesforce integration was a big part of [our consideration]. We wanted a company that was taking on that bleeding edge. We wanted to make sure that the mobile client was easy to use. The mobile client is a big plus for our employees. We knew that the SMS piece was going to be a big part of that.
 
A caveat, however, is we’re not using RingCentral for our salespeople because RingCentral didn’t have the technology means that our salespeople have from an SMS perspective. So we currently use text for all those people. We’re using SMS for our business partner groups like payroll, travel, internal IT support, and finance.
 
What products in RingCentral’s portfolio are you using at the moment, and for what purposes?
TS: For the moment, we’re using the basic phone clients. We’ve got the phone, faxing is available. Business partners are using SMS, salespeople are not, and we’re still using Zoom for videoconferencing.
 
In our phase two approach, we’ll transition from Zoom to RingCentral Meetings, which has a lot to do with the videoconferencing rooms we use within the company. They support Zoom, but not RingCentral Meetings, so we’re already in the process of making internal changes to obtain hardware that supports RingCentral Meetings.
 
What communications needs do these products solve? How has the employee experience changed with these solutions?
TS: The rollouts went very smoothly, and we had great support. Our professional services team did a great job, and the migration to RingCentral went really well.
 
What types of issues did CHG face before partnering with RingCentral? How did RingCentral solve those problems?
TS: The biggest issue was overhead with employees requiring a VPN client because that created problems with troubleshooting connections and poor call quality. We didn’t have a way to get in and dig in.
 
That’s one of the things we liked about RingCentral—we can go into the analytics and see end-to-end where there was jitter and where there were problems. For example, if we have users complaining about quality, we can go in and pinpoint if it’s a problem with the Internet service provider or RingCentral. That troubleshooting aspect has been very beneficial and very helpful.
 
How is CHG Healthcare nursing its company culture?
TS: The company is hyper-focused on creating a flex-type environment for people to work at home or where best meets their needs and coordinating with the team. A big concern is ‘how do we continue with this people-first culture we’ve created in this flexible work environment.’ The huge challenge is when everybody's not in the office and not face-to-face—how do you continue to keep this culture in those relationships?
 
I think CHG Healthcare is tackling that challenge twofold. First, the company is changing the workspace by getting rid of cubicles and changing the environment to be more open. It’s giving people the space to come in and work from hoteling-type spaces where you come in, sit down, and start working. The company also transitioned to every employee having laptops so they can work from home or in the office. CHG is also investing in conference rooms, making sure these rooms are all video-enabled, so, during team meetings, employees in the office can be in a room with those who are remote.
 
What intentional management practices helped cultivate your working environment?
TS: Something the leadership team talked about over and over again is living by its core values. If we as leaders aren’t modeling the behavior, if we’re not doing those things we espouse as a company, people aren’t going to see these values. The CEO is very approachable. The first year I started, I remember being shocked to see CEOs sitting at [the company’s gathering space] watching March Madness with everybody else.

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