CityMD, founded by physicians in 2011, is a network of New York urgent care medical centers dedicated to setting an unprecedented standard of care for patients. The company currently has 1,700 employees, including 200 physicians. A unique service of CityMD is aftercare or patient follow-up. A customized software platform enables staff to contact patients to make sure they got the follow-up care recommended by CityMD doctors.
Over the last four and-a-half years, CityMD has grown from one office to 40 – primarily in New York City and Long Island. Robert Florescu, Vice President of Information Technology, was managing the IT and networking requirements for CityMD for most of that growth.
“Our infrastructure was housed in a closet at one of our sites when I started. Now we are in a state-of-the-art data center – everything is virtualized,” said Florescu, who joined CityMD after working in the financial services sector, an experience that he found similar to healthcare because of all the compliance regulations and patient security concerns. He recalled being surprised by the lack of good communication lines available in New York City.
CityMD’s core business, he explained, is taking care of patients in a very short period of time. “You need to rely heavily on technology or your patients will have long wait times. With that in mind, it’s imperative that our systems are up and running almost 24x7.” The urgent care centers are open 365 days a year, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends.
CityMD, until recently, relied on a low-cost hosted networking solution, which wasn’t scalable or reliable. It lacked dedicated voice services, which led to costly service outages.
According to Florescu, when a CityMD site lost connectivity, the backup plan was to go to paper patient charts. Additionally, processing of payments was not possible when the data lines were down.
“When the connection was restored, we had to load the patient charts into our database and then the Billing department had to process all these payments and physically mail a bill to the patients. Every time we had a downed site, it created this ripple effect,” recalled Florescu.
With CityMD looking to expand to as many as 70 locations in the next two years, the time had come for a much more robust networking environment. The networking solution would need to scale with CityMD’s growth projections while meeting stringent standards of a healthcare service model that puts patient care as the first priority.
The solution would also need to provide a dedicated networking environment, leveraging the quality and uptime required to support a healthcare client without breaking the bank.
CityMD selected New York-based MASS Communications to roll out a new MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) voice and data network solution. In developing a fully redundant and reliable voice and data network infrastructure from the ground up, MASS Communications went beyond simply designing and implementing an innovative connectivity solution.
“We acted as a partner and consultant to help source the new voice platform and manage all aspects of the implementation,” said Marc Gold, President & COO, MASS Communications. “The quality of the service needed to be flawless as this client delivers emergency and health-based services to their customers.”
The fully meshed MPLS and IP-based solution gives every CityMD location an Ethernet primary with a secondary diverse broadband connection for failover and redundancy. Each location connects to two geographically diverse routed core datacenter gateways for a fully managed SIP voice solution. For location-based emergency services, traditional POTS lines have also been deployed at each location.
The IP-based network bolsters CityMD’s ability to manage its rapid growth plans. The more reliable infrastructure also ensures continual uptime crucial to serving patients with minimal wait times and ensures that the company’s proprietary aftercare software platform remains up at all times.
In designing a new hardware voice solution, MASS Communications had to consult in the selection of a vendor to replace all of the existing handsets since the pre-existing hosted phone equipment was not compatible with any of the dedicated hardware solutions. Keeping costs down without sacrificing performance was a key challenge.
Florescu indicated that he plans to continue to leverage MASS Communications’ strong carrier relationships and its negotiation strengths as his company expands to other markets, including neighboring New Jersey. He considers MASS’s managed service strengths just as critical as the IT needs of CityMD continue to grow with the addition of more staff and locations.
“By monitoring our connections, MASS is helping us focus on our other systems’ uptime,” concluded Florescu. “They are our eyes and ears – they notify us if there is an outage so we can proactively respond and minimize the impact on our patients.”
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