Kindred Healthcare: Using Office 365 to connect thousands of workers and lower costs

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Charles Wardrip is Corporate Vice President of Operations and Telecommunications, Kindred Healthcare.

Kindred Healthcare logoKindred Healthcare is one of the largest providers of post-acute healthcare services in the United States. Today, we have approximately 76,000 employees delivering patient care across more than 2,100 locations. We operate transitional and in-patient hospitals and nursing centers, and we also offer contract rehabilitation staffing and services for non-affiliated providers nationwide. As you can imagine, with tens of thousands of employees working in diverse care settings across so many different geographic locations, one of our biggest, most persistent challenges is communication.

Our recent merger with RehabCare only magnified this challenge. Practically overnight, we added close to 12,000 employees to our operations. To make things more difficult, the RehabCare employees who joined our workforce all had Gmail accounts. At Kindred, we have a large on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 environment and had already been considering a move to a cloud-based email system; the merger just increased the urgency of our search. We wanted to connect all of our employees through a single communications and collaboration platform and to ensure that the new RehabCare staff felt included as part of the organization.

My IT team started comparing solutions from Google and Microsoft, and it quickly became apparent that Microsoft Office 365 was the best fit for Kindred. Exchange Online is designed to work with Exchange Server, so we knew that we could make the most of our existing investment and still provide a standardized set of tools across our entire business. Plus, capabilities like email retention, legal holds, eDiscovery, and encryption are must-haves for the healthcare business and help us adhere to the latest HIPAA rules.

We worked closely with Microsoft Cloud Vantage Services to assist with our move to Office 365. Our first priority was to migrate employees from Gmail to Exchange Online as quickly as possible. Cloud Vantage Services designed the migration process to meet our exact needs so that we could complete this important first step on a very tight schedule. I was definitely nervous about the transition, but it really couldn’t have gone any better. We were on budget, on schedule, and didn’t have any significant issues.

After the successful email migration, we put together a team with Microsoft to develop guidelines for social communications and then piloted solutions, such as skill search, user groups, and newsfeeds, using Lync Online and SharePoint Online. It didn’t take long to get it deployed to our 22,000 mobile employees.

Because all our employees are on Exchange, we’ve reduced management overhead and we don’t have to duplicate training and support efforts. Looking forward, we see the potential to move all of our employees to the cloud and further reduce our IT overhead.

Office 365 has really changed the way we work. Managers have told me that they can now provide more effective direction. And our providers are getting answers more quickly and sharing ideas for improving our business. Using Office 365 to improve communications and collaboration is strengthening our corporate culture and will help us to ultimately deliver better patient care at a better price.

To learn more about Kindred Healthcare check out the company’s official case study and video interview with Charles Wardrip.


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