Dominic Wells says he has learned the value of trying new things.
Wells is the chief operating officer of Conduit Health Partners, a provider of telehealth services. Founded by Bon Secours Mercy Health in 2018, Conduit provides virtually “nurse-first” services in triage, patient transfer and remote patient monitoring.
Wells spoke in an interview about the lessons of starting a new venture and his growing company Chief Healthcare Executive® At the VVE conference.
“One of the philosophies of Conduit is, you can’t sit around a table for months and years, trying to figure it out,” Wells says. “You just have to jump.”
It’s a lesson he thinks applies to other health systems looking to expand care options beyond the hospital’s four walls, including remote patient monitoring and hospital-at-home programs.
“What we learned through the pandemic is that we just, we had to do things quickly,” Wells said. “We didn’t know if they would work or not. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. And we’ve adapted to it.”
(See part of our conversation with Dominic Wells at Vive. Story continues below.)
‘a collaborative partner’
So far, Conduit’s approach is seeing success. Conduit employs 180 nurses in 48 states, and has received increasing interest from health systems, payers and employers looking to offer 24/7 access to care.
“We are nurse-driven and nurse-led,” Wells said.
Some providers and employers are using Conduit to conduct virtual visits with patients or employees to determine what level of care an injury or illness requires. Other providers are turning to Conduit for remote patient monitoring services, including hospital-at-home services. To date, Conduit has worked with 58 hospitals and handled 9 million calls.
“We come to the table as a collaborative partner,” Wells said. “We’re not there to just implement or provide for them. We really meet with them on a monthly basis to review the data, understand their goals, understand how we can create goals ourselves to help them.”
Because Conduit offers services like virtual triage and remote patient monitoring, nurses are working remotely, Wells said.
When asked what nurses appreciate about working with the company, Wells said, “I think most of them would say they like working from home, first and foremost, to get out of the craziness that’s happening in the hospital setting right now. And still being. Values of their role and being able to provide that kind of care.”
The conduit requires at least two years of acute care experience from its nurses, Wells said. The company has attracted some experienced nurses who still enjoy nursing but find 12-hour hospital shifts daunting. The company also draws some nurses who are starting to have children and are looking to work from home with a more flexible schedule.
Nurses joining Conduit must be comfortable working at a fast pace.
“It’s high tech, it’s high intensity, and so it’s not for everybody,” Wells said. “It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure, just because of the fast pace of work they have to do and the critical thinking required to pivot.”
Referring to some of the company’s functions, such as patient transfer services, he said, “We are still handling patients who are critically critical who need to be moved from one place to another in real time as quickly as possible.”
Moving out of the hospital
Wells brims with optimism about the company’s prospects.
When asked about Conduit’s goals, he said, “We definitely want to double our company in the next few years.”
Wells says he’s looking not only to increase revenue, but also to reach more patients.
More health systems are looking to provide care to patients outside of hospitals, and Wells sees this as another development that bodes well for Conduit.
He says hospitals and health systems need to look at ways to care for more patients remotely and at home, since that’s what consumers are looking for.
“I would say it’s a necessity,” Wells said. “I think at this point we have to. I think about my kids, and they don’t want to go to the doctor’s office. They want to be able to do things electronically and via video. They grew up with it.”
“I would say that health systems, they have to figure out how to make that happen, to be able to meet the range of patient care that they have to provide,” he added.
And that’s where Wells says hospitals can’t be too intentional as they plan to deliver care in new ways, whether it’s remote patient monitoring or home hospital services.
“What the pandemic has taught us is that we can’t sit around and do nothing, or take too long to develop or create solutions,” Wells said. “I would say dive in keeping in mind the rules we have to follow. But the only way we’re going to learn is to get in there and try to do some things and try to make it happen.”