Global Pandemic Forces Shift to Work at Home Model


Convey Moves 1,000+ Team Members Home in Record Time

Scott Tracey
Senior Vice President, Information Technology and Information Security, Convey Health Solutions

As news broke of the first U.S. case of COVID-19, the Convey Health Solutions (Convey) leadership and crisis management teams met to discuss the potential threat should the novel virus continue to spread. As an essential business and leading provider of healthcare technology and support services, it was critical that we continue to operate and provide high quality, uninterrupted systems and services.

Among the immediate challenges we faced was the need to transition from a traditional brick and mortar work environment to a highly remote workforce, due in part to the highly communicable virus and need for social distancing. With the safety of our employees as an imperative, we immediately began to evaluate our work-at-home (WAH) strategy and enabling technology. The conditions were complicated due to the sensitive nature of the data and services we provide and complex security and system access requirements necessary to compliantly service our clients. As a result, it was clear that our continuity planning and technology delivery strategy had to be enhanced and extended to provide end-user system access, contact center technology, security/privacy controls, and digital team collaboration tools at a scale and speed never before required.

COVID-19 forced our leadership, employees and clients to become nimbler and more innovative on condensed timeline. As the World Health Organization declared COVID19 a global pandemic on March 11, Convey called an “all hands” meeting with the goal of transitioning to a work at home model, as quickly and securely as possible. Convey determined an accelerated response was needed to maintain the client service expectations, protect the safety of its employees, and get ahead of any potential supplier and/or supply-chain disruptions.


How Convey cross-functionally made WAH a success:

Step 1: Client Coordination & Technology Investment

Convey’s operations team set to work on obtaining customer approvals and amendments to current service agreements to enable remote system access and teleworking services. Convey IT assessed a variety of technology options that our team members would leverage, enabling them to work from home in a secure and reliable environment. The deployment and progression was iterative. Initially, Convey deployed a blended on premise and WAH operating model. As the pandemic continued to spread, and state and federal authorities initiated ”shelter-in-place” orders, Convey worked to revise its business continuity plans and to communicate with each client to individually assess and authorize a more WAH-centric operating and support model.

Simultaneously, the Convey IT response teams aggressively launched inventory recovery and expedited procurement efforts necessary to acquire end-user computing and telephony assets to enable the work from home operations plan. With the Convey client services teams communicating with clients for review and acceptance of the approach and updating policies, processes, and procedures, the Convey IT, Information Security, and Operations teams began the deployment of WAH.

Step 2: Gauging Readiness & Developing WAH Kits

To assess the feasibility of our plan and employee at-home work capabilities, we had to consider the differing geographies and demographics of our work sites, which include U.S. (Florida, Arizona, and Kansas) and offshore (Philippines) locations. To ascertain opportunities and challenges, we quickly developed a work at home readiness survey and electronically distributed it to every Convey team member to complete and return for deployment.

The survey asked questions such as:

          • Do you have broadband internet at home? If yes, who is your ISP and do you know your download and upload speeds?

          • Do you have an isolated, quiet, and sufficiently sized (4’x4’) work area capable of supporting up to 20 lbs. of equipment?

          • Does the location provide sufficient privacy from family members, visitors, neighbors, and windows?

          • If approved, are you willing to install Convey-owned equipment in your home?

As part of the survey, team members also agreed to follow robust compliance requirements designed to continually protect and safeguard Convey systems and the Medicare beneficiary’s PHI. To qualify and mitigate risks, team members also had to attest to administrative policies and accept the deployment of technical security controls and utilities to include, but not limited to:

          • AI-powered endpoint protection

          • Data leakage prevention software

          • Web content gateway agents

          • Disk encryption technology

          • Multi-factor authentication

WAH “kits” were assembled, pre-configured, and packaged to include thin terminals or laptops, keyboard/mouse, monitors, and VPN-enabled IP phones. Qualified and approved team members gained secure, remote connectivity to Convey-hosted remote/virtual desktops, business systems, and/or contact center communication platforms. A second model allowed limited deployment of “bring your own device” (BYOD) components, with Convey-provided security controls and access to virtual desktops, only.

A selection of employees began testing the WAH kits and provided valuable feedback regarding installation, performance, and support challenges and successes. Build quality assurance and testing procedures were documented with consideration of the detailed test and pilot user feedback. The user feedback allowed deployment adjustments to address the variety of unique home installation considerations encountered during the setup of the WAH kits.

Next, Work at Home Quick Start Guides were prepared with easy to follow instructions and contact information for support. Convey established a model workstation at each of our locations to demonstrate the installation process and allow employees to view, photograph, and ask setup questions. We created a short, publicly accessible “how-to” video, which nearly all WAH advocates viewed, resulting in reduced support ticket volumes, given the large undertaking. A new command center replaced the traditional IT service desk to provide expedited triage and real-time communication, as well as, support correlation and aggregation of common incidents to resolving problems faster.

Goal: Transition 1,000+ Employees Home

As the process ramped up and COVID-19 continued to spread, some of our clients expressed a desire to make it possible for all of our employees to work safely from home. Our goal was to enable all employees to have the option of WAH.

Once established, Convey’s WAH program successfully transitioned employees in three phases. Feedback on the employee surveys, along with the timing on coordination with the clients, established the priority for the WAH deployment. By March 17, Convey had identified the initial phase. Upon receipt of their kit, WAH candidates completed an equipment installation checklist. The Convey client services teams developed and distributed a recurring WAH transition summary report illustrating the number of employees working from home and their functions. Within two weeks of the launch of the WAH model, Convey transitioned approximately 1,063 contact center employees from each of our five facilities.


Looking Back: Lessons Learned, Benefits Gained

Like other companies inside and outside of our industry, the significant effort and cost of this initiative was unexpected. However, Convey viewed this as a critical investment toward continuity of operations and maintaining client trust and confidence in our ability to meet or exceed services levels during times of crisis.

The initiative had many successes outside of making it possible for our entire workforce to work from home. By maintaining and even expanding data security and privacy controls, we were able to mitigate risks and ensure that there was no impact to the access to healthcare benefits for our client membership. Furthermore, by focusing on workplace and employee safety, through cross-functional response teams diverse group collaboration, and idea boxes Convey was able to strengthen our Company culture, highlighted by our values—integrity first, inspired teamwork, and compliance matters. The results were impressive—continued success in service level performance, employee productivity, and client satisfaction. In fact, critical measurements like absenteeism actually decreased despite the added anxiety the pandemic presented to the personal lives of our employees and personnel.

This WAH initiative was an extraordinary team effort by both Convey and our clients. It is a testament to strong partnership, innovation, hard work, and focused coordination delivering a win/win rapid-response to something as challenging as providing Medicare members access to health benefits, while keeping Convey team members safe during a state of global pandemic.


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