South Coast Community Services Continues Mental Health Care During COVID-19 With Zoom
By implementing Zoom, SCCS created a HIPAA-compliant meeting environment for internal meetings and sessions with clients during COVID-19.
South Coast Community
Location: Mission Viejo, California
Challenges: Had to quickly transition to telehealth, limited video flexibility, overly complex legacy solutions
Solutions: Zoom Meetings
Business benefits: Reliable and flexible video communications, ability to serve more patients, simple end- user experience
“I already knew about Zoom when we were approved to start using telehealth, and I really liked the platform. Out of all the platforms I’ve used, Zoom is the simplest, it’s got the best feature set, and it’s got the best quality as well.”
Scott McGuirkCEO of SCCS
South Coast Community Services (SCCS) is the one of largest nonprofit mental health agencies in California, providing counseling and coaching to over 10,000 children, adults, and their families each year. Founded in 1984, SCCS provides mental health services to clients through its clinics throughout San Bernardino and Orange Counties. The organization also coordinates in-home and in-school visits from therapists to provide services wherever children and families need them most.
By offering families multiple avenues to receive care, SCCS provides a support system for families to build stronger relationships and create an environment where children can flourish. As many mental health organizations were evaluating how to counsel patients during COVID-19, SCCS was able to quickly pivot to telehealth services using Zoom and continue delivering its important mental health services.
Providing care during COVID-19
SCCS’ treatment plans traditionally relied on in-person therapy sessions to meet with patients. However, due to COVID-19, SCCS’ therapists could no longer travel out to clinics or patients’ homes or schools to meet with patients, and patients were no longer able to come in to the clinics.
“We were mostly community-based, driving out to the communities to meet with patients or having people come in to our clinics,” said Scott McGuirk, CEO of SCCS. “We could provide in-person services, but now with COVID-19, that’s not possible.”
Once the government-approved SCCS to deliver its services using telemedicine, the teams at SCCS needed an easy-to-use platform to reach patients across the state. McGuirk and his teams at SCCS had used video to deliver telepsychiatry and communicate with internal and external teams, but the lack of functionality and inherent complexity of those legacy solutions made it difficult to provide those services effectively.
“In the past, we were only approved to do telepsychiatry. And while we had a platform for that, it just didn’t do what we needed it to do,” McGuirk said. “I’ve used just about everything out there, we’ve used Skype for Business for telepsychiatry, we’ve also used GoToMeeting and Webex to communicate with other government agencies. And the level of complexity is just too high to be effective.”
SCCS’ patients also faced a unique privacy challenge during COVID-19. Without the ability to visit with therapists in a clinical setting, patients no longer had a private, secure setting where they could speak their minds without other family members potentially overhearing.
“The real concern we’ve seen from kids is about their privacy,” McGuirk said. “Some live in a small home with lots of people, and it’s difficult to get privacy. The kids want to make sure that their siblings or other family members aren’t listening in because it makes it really difficult to discuss the issues they want to talk about.”
Delivering care remotely using Zoom
When SCCS received government approval to begin using telehealth to provide mental health services, McGuirk decided to implement Zoom’s HIPAA-compliant platform based on his previous experience with the solution.
“I already knew about Zoom when we were approved to start using telehealth, and I really liked the platform,” he said. “Out of all the platforms I’ve used, Zoom is the simplest, it’s got the best feature set, and it’s got the best quality as well.”
Shifting SCCS’ largely in-person treatment plan to an online space was a significant undertaking, but McGuirk found that his teams could quickly and easily get patients and their families on board with Zoom.
“Once we can get the patients and their families on board, it’s pretty seamless,” McGuirk said. “We have a fairly large Client Care Team here that handles a lot of the questions that patients have, and we also offer links to the Zoom support site on our site as well. We’ve also seen parents and children create a stronger bond because the children have the credibility to address some of the tech questions that their parents have.”
Scott McGuirkCEO of SCCS
Additionally, Zoom’s mobile app helped give patients the privacy they needed.
“We have a large inventory of smartphones and tablets without SIM cards, so we decided to use that inventory to make our care mobile-enabled,” McGuirk said. “And most families have an internet connection they can use, so we can give those children a tablet or a phone and they can go find a quiet room or sit in the backyard to have their session. It makes it a lot easier than using a computer that can’t go anywhere.”
Serving “more people, more efficiently, with the same number of staff”
By implementing Zoom, SCCS provided its workforce with a secure, HIPAA-compliant digital meeting environment that allows the organization to continue its critically important services during a uniquely challenging time. McGuirk predicts that his organization will continue to expand its use of Zoom to extend its services to more people.
“We’ll be going back to the offices soon, but now that people can see the benefits of telehealth, it’s unlikely that we’ll go back to only in-person sessions,” McGuirk said. “Previously we had therapists who were spending hours and hours a day on the road driving out to these communities. And now we can serve more people, more efficiently, with the same number of staff.”