At a glance
Industry: Health Care and Telehealth
Employees: 400+ providers
Lifesize Customer Since: 2014
Conference Room Systems: 15
• Secure • Reliable • Flexible and scalable • Easy to use • Cloud-based app
Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) provides care for patients in northwest Montana through nearly 400 providers at the flagship hospital in Kalispell and clinics throughout the area. With a wealth of outdoor activities in Montana, KRH has a broad care footprint serving both regional patients and patients visiting from around the state and country.
Providing healthcare services to patients in a large, rural area creates unique accessibility challenges. Montana is the fourth largest state in the U.S. by square mileage, and some patients have to drive 600 miles to reach a KRH specialist. Additionally, patients who develop healthcare needs while visiting the area often want to continue follow-up care with the physician they initially saw. KRH needed an easy-to-use solution to connect providers with rural and out-of-town patients, who may have limited internet access or limited mobility due to health conditions, as well as a secure and flexible way to communicate between the regional healthcare center in Kalispell with clinics throughout the state.
In 2018, KRH began exploring options to expand and improve telehealth connectivity, evaluating other video conferencing vendors along with Lifesize, which KRH was already using on a smaller scale. “With patient care, confidentiality is a necessity. At the time, we needed a vendor that could provide a platform that protected our patients’ privacy and offered customer service support that responded to our technical needs,” says Torr Anderson, multimedia & telehealth technician, Kalispell Regional Healthcare. Due to the prior success KRH had with Lifesize, they decided to expand with the Lifesize cloud-based service in early 2019.
“We needed a simple method for our telehealth program and our educational offerings. Lifesize Cloud fit our need,” reports Anderson. “Suddenly, what took days of coordination came down to getting a simple email and a link to click on to join the call. It was easy and anyone in the organization could do it.”
Today, KRH has five cloud-connected Lifesize® Icon™ 600 video conferencing systems in conference rooms throughout the hospital and has deployed 10 Lifesize® Icon™ 450 video conferencing systems in conference rooms at smaller clinics for remote patient specialist visits.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 global pandemic, all KRH physicians needed to be equipped with virtual exam rooms for patient care. “In just three days, our telehealth staff created virtual exam rooms for all our physicians as well as educational materials both for the physicians and for the front office staff who would be connecting patients to their doctors,” says Anderson.
Now patients without reliable connectivity can visit a local clinic for a telehealth appointment with a physician at the hospital in a virtual exam room. Physicians and other staff use the desktop version of the Lifesize app to stay connected from their office. “Our current Lifesize Cloud platform relieved a lot of stress,” Anderson attests. “This changed the way we provided care and education and has allowed us to expand access to patients.”
With Lifesize in place, KRH began seeing around 1,400 telehealth patients per year. At the outset of COVID-19, the need to limit non-essential in-person visits made telehealth an even more critical tool for patient care, and KRH was prepared with Lifesize. KRH was able to scale from roughly 115 telehealth patient visits per month to more than 5,000 per month, quickly and easily meeting patient needs while maintaining quality of care. “When the COVID pandemic began, we wanted our vulnerable patients to stay at home to protect themselves. They were relieved that our providers had another way to see them and their continuity of care could continue.”
Today, KRH still sees around 2,500 patients each month via telehealth appointments – a more than 2000% increase over pre-COVID numbers – a trend Anderson expects to continue. With Lifesize, KRH has the ability to meet ongoing telehealth needs, regardless of volume and scale.
Other outcomes include the capability to serve patients who have difficulty getting out of their home, and using Lifesize as an education delivery system for patients in follow-up care. Even nearby patients are taking advantage of the convenience of telehealth, saving them waiting room time and creating appointment options that more readily fit into their schedules.
KRH has experienced better than 80% satisfaction with Lifesize-powered telehealth, and they expect to see greater use of telehealth long-term. “More and more patients recognize the value and convenience of telehealth as an option, and our providers have said it’s incredibly easy to use,” Anderson concludes.