All too common in healthcare news stories are accounts of patients who have either suffered from malpractice, or infections that patients acquire while they are in the hospital being treated for something else. Whenever these problems occur, there are serious consequences. A patient’s recovery might be more costly and take longer, and in extreme cases, legal action may be necessary.
In an effort to curb these incidents, a lot of hospitals are using specialised software from RL Solutions to track mistakes as they happen.
Sanjay Malaviya, RL Solution’s president and CEO, is the brain behind the software and the Toronto-based company. While working in a hospital, Malaviya was asked to create a system that would help patient advocates manage, analyze and report on patient feedback. The software he made was so successful that in 1997, he started his own company. From there, his products evolved and eventually garnered the attention of organizations across North America. Today, RL Solutions offers software and services to hospitals all over the globe.
The bulk of the company’s business—about 70 per cent—is in the United States. It is south of the border where RL Solutions is fortunate enough to have nine out of the top 10 U.S. hospitals as its clients, including John Hopkins Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The company also has two offices in Australia (one research office and one marketing and sales office), where it has an increasingly strong presence. In very recent news, RL Solutions won a significant account for an entire European nation’s healthcare system.
Meeting healthcare challenges
“One of the best uses of our software is for near-miss incidents, where harm didn’t reach a patient, but the possibility for error was there,” says Malaviya. “Staff can use our system to document potential problems, which gives everyone in the organization a chance to address the concern and prevent it in the future.”
“Another module we have is for infection control surveillance,” he continues. “It monitors lab results and alerts hospitals as to where they should be focusing their time to prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections. The third module is for complaints; a lot of staff hear complaints and deal with them, but that’s where the learning stops. With our software, the whole organisation can learn from individual complaints. Beyond that, staff can recognise trends and areas in the hospital that could use more attention or changes or funding.”
That last function is for worst-case scenarios, which is when a complaint leads to a legal case against the hospital. For these situations, the claims module helps the hospital track where its insurance policies are and from where they need to draw funds to remunerate the clients.
Very recently, the healthcare industry has seen significant regulation come into place for risk management. While RL Solutions hasn’t been a part of the change, the team is certainly excited for its implications—an increasing market. Admittedly, the company was doing very well before the push for increased reporting and infection surveillance; new regulations mean it will only go up from here.
“The company has been around for 13 years,” says Malaviya, “and our presence in the market came about through hospitals that wanted to improve in delivering services to their patients. The bulk of our time in the industry has been without regulation and now that it’s coming in, our clients are finding themselves in the good position. They have already been collecting data and many have already learned from it and shown improvement. So they’re a step ahead.”
Client success is really what RL Solutions is about. Without them, RL Solutions wouldn’t be what it is today. “We really try to cater to hospitals’ needs and what they want to do; we don’t try and pretend to know what’s best for them,” Malaviya maintains. “We trust them to know that they need. That’s how we operate. We’re a software company; we’re not healthcare experts. What we do is provide tools to people within the hospital who are sincere about improving their delivery of care. And the software succeeds; if a client doesn’t have a good risk management system in place, our software will quickly show them how bad their situation is.”
Success earned the old-fashioned way
RL Solutions is successful because of its hard work and ingenious ideas. “We didn’t start out with high-level relationships and we certainly don’t force ourselves onto people,” says Malaviya of the company’s grassroots growth. “We started winning accounts one by one, with people who we knew could use the software. It’s a sincere place to come from. You can only pull that off if the team you have believes in the products, which they do. Our staff work hard and they enjoy being a part of something positive. There hasn’t been anything magical beyond that.”
RL Solutions’ passion and work ethic will carry the company well into the future. Of course, its next-generation line-up of products will certainly help. “I think the world is our oyster at the moment,” Malaviya concludes. “There are a lot of good things happening. With the client base we have, the new products coming out and the great team we have been able to assemble, I just don’t see any limitations to how far we can go.”