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RelateCare: Delivering Irish innovation to the US healthcare market

September 10, 2018 No Comments

RelateCare began as a joint venture between the Cleveland Clinic and Rigneydolphin. By combining Rigneydolphin’s experience in contact centre management and Cleveland Clinic’s expertise in healthcare delivery, RelateCare provides leadership in patient access, telehealth, contact center and outsourcing solutions to healthcare organisations around the world. With locations in Ireland and the USA, RelateCare develops relationships with clients to deliver innovative and unique opportunities to address current and future healthcare challenges.

Conor O’Byrne is the CEO of RelateCare and a former Director of Operations at Rigneydolphin. O’Byrne has led RelateCare since its inception in 2013, overseeing remarkable growth from five employees to over 180 employees today. O’Byrne first led a team of consultants in the creation and development of Cleveland Clinic’s world-renowned Access to Care Center in 2009, which still is widely regarded as one of the leading Patient Access models internationally.

O’Byrne sits on a number of steering committees and advisory boards including Enterprise Ireland’s Connected Health Steering Committee in partnership with UCD and UL – Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH).

We recently interviewed O’Byrne about how Irish technology solution providers are finding a high level of interest, acceptance, and success within the US market.

What makes healthcare communications needs unique?

Healthcare is unique in that not only does it demand the highest degree of excellence and flexibility, it also must ensure that patient care is always the priority. By focusing solely on this sector, companies like RelateCare can understand the nuances and intricacies associated with healthcare call center operations.

Success demands a strong partner-centric approach to business and a commitment to creating a culture of lean thinking and collaboration, where the focus at all levels throughout the organisation is on continuous improvement.

As healthcare organisations are attempting to increase care quality, reduce costs, gain market share and offer patient-centric solutions RelateCare offers organisations the tools, support, processes, and knowledge necessary to reach their goals. Some organisations are facing staffing shortages, shortages of affordable space, inadequate technologies or the correct know-how to repair underperforming business units within their organization.

With a blend of both onsite consultancy and outsourced contact center solutions, customers can be assured that they are benefiting from best practice initiatives in consultancy engagements. Effective patient communication solutions connect healthcare providers to their patients and customers while improving the overall patient experience and quality of care.

How did RelateCare find a footing in the US healthcare market?

Rigneydolphin’s leadership team including Dr. Frank Dolphin were first introduced to a trade delegation from Cleveland Clinic in 2009 by Enterprise Ireland. Cleveland Clinic were experiencing a period of transition and change as they targeted elevating the quality and uniformity of service provided to their patients through their various contact centers. Rigneydolphin were respected as thought-leaders in the area of contact center management and operations and were brought in to design and implement Cleveland Clinic’s Access to Care Centralization project. This involved the centralisation of all Cleveland Clinics patient access and appointment scheduling functions under one umbrella collocated with a dedicated team of 24/7 available Registered Nurses to provide clinical guidance and follow up. Early on via the Rigneydolphin’s Waterford contact center a highly innovative Post Discharge Follow Up Program was developed which still exists today through RelateCare’s team.

Cleveland’s newly centralised Access to Care center became an industry leader in US healthcare and this led to many other organisations wishing to emulate the model and seeking our assistance in doing so. We’re very proud of the fact the majority of new business comes from positive referrals from current clients.

In addition to our work with Cleveland Clinic, we have replicated our success at many other health systems across the US including Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Boston. We have been a partner of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center for over two years now and have worked on several successful projects together. The bedrock of our relationship is in elevating their patient access success. We hope to take this partnership even further in the next number of years and have recently started working in the areas of Referrals and Authorizations.

Why was an Irish company selected over other providers?

In a client-satisfaction survey conducted in early 2018, our customers cited professionalism, flexibility, quality, and value for money as their reasons for selecting us. Partnering with Irish companies in an industry like ours can offer many benefits, including advantages in terms of time difference, cost differentials and our expertise in business process outsourcing.

Despite not necessarily being in the room face to face with client’s day in day out, our solutions are accompanied with a high degree of quality service and ongoing commitment. We place a huge emphasis on building relationships with our partners and believe this approach has been the reason why our partners choose to work with us above local competition.

Irish companies are recognised as world-class companies due to their ability to create solutions that not only remedy current challenges individuals and organization face but also create solutions that are future proofed.

In the healthcare industry, the Irish market is seen as a suitably sized market to carry out pilots and develop a proof of concept. Before the majority of Irish companies catapult themselves onto an international stage they have spent a lot of time testing their product or services to ensure when they go to market internationally that their solution is best-in-class.

What’s the advantage of being an Irish company when expanding globally?

Irish companies are well-received internationally and there are many examples of successful Irish companies working overseas. By having an Irish operation, it also gives an advantage because of time zone differences and being on the edge of Europe. We are able to support and process work during the day here in Ireland before the day even starts on the West Coast of the United States offering extended business hours and a highly skilled and educated workforce

The support provided by Enterprise Ireland throughout our journey has been nothing short of fantastic. Be it making valuable introductions, facilitating events, providing guidance and financial support the engagement we have experienced has been a significant explanation for RelateCare’s success. Irish companies are very fortunate to benefit from Enterprise Ireland’s backing and long may it continue.

RelateCare has also been fortunate to boast a hugely positive relationship with Waterford Institute of Technology school of nursing this partnership has been a source of talented, well-versed students and graduates. The availability of a well-educated pool of candidates has enabled us to be competitive on an international stage.

The Irish people have long been renowned for their desire to succeed, entrepreneurial attributes, and their ability to overcome obstacles and challenges. Modern Ireland is now being recognized for its inclusivity, multiculturalism, and openness. This trend has been hugely positive for us as our work often requires individuals with international language expertise or experience working in multicultural diverse environments to offer us a niche in the marketplace.

As we collaborate with our colleagues across the Atlantic, it is a regular occurrence when we walk into a room to be greeted by an individual with an Irish surname, or an individual who has fond memories from working with an Irish organization in the past, a vacation they had or warm-hearted memories of the time they spent studying abroad in Ireland. No doubt, the long cultural and heritage ties between both nations has served as a catalyst for positive working relationships.

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