Quick poll: Who loves the waiting room? Quick answer: No one.
With its stale coffee, old magazines, and daytime television, waiting rooms are a bastion of lost productivity. Everyone from clients, to your support staff, could be doing something better with his or her time. And then there are no-shows, who cost time and money.
Participants can attend workers’ compensation hearings right from their homes or offices.
Life shouldn’t have to be like this, so fortunately it’s all about to change for the better.
Learn how Cloverhound used the robust Cisco Webex Teams, team collaboration platform to solve the waiting room conundrum once and for all (stale coffee not included).
Every month, tens of thousands of people are involved in workers’ compensation claims in New York State. There are dozens of people involved in a single hearing: the judge and claimant, of course, but also the stenographers, translators, facilities crew, and many others who make the system work.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, especially when each hearing relies on long commutes and high travel costs.
The New York State’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) realized the loss in productivity—not only for their workforce, but also for the workers, employers, and lawyers they serve. Their desire to increase efficiencies and modernize how they do business drove them to look for a solution to reduce hearing no-shows, streamline the check-in process, and create a virtual-hearing experience.
To accommodate this, Cloverhound developed an easier way to conduct these hearings that Cisco’s Webex blog calls,“a first-in-the-nation solution, built on the Cisco Webex Teams collaboration platform, that allows injured workers and other participants to attend workers’ compensation hearings right from their homes or offices. This solution is a critical piece to removing obstacles and reducing the inherent stress accompanying the hearing process.”
Powered by the Cisco Webex Teams, team collaboration platform, VirtualCourts leverages Cloverhound’s VirtualQ™ framework to seamlessly integrate robust case management with Webex APIs to provide an intuitive and efficient solution, requiring zero administration by court staff.
VirtualQ is built using the latest web technologies available through a collaborative agile development process. At the center of the application is a cloud native backend service that uses WebSockets to send real-time updates to a react-based web application. By leveraging a modern cloud architecture, the backend is both scalable and resilient. All processing is stateless and balanced across multiple nodes across multiple data centers, allowing for dynamic scaling (by adding additional nodes) and seamless recovery from failures in any single node. All data is replicated on the fly and is automatically recovered and re-enabled in the case of failures.
The backend is responsible for maintaining the hearing schedule through the court’s case management APIs, enforcing the rules of the check-in process, and routing updates between participants and the judges and support staff. As participants check in to hearings, their information is automatically captured and broadcast in real time to the judges’ dashboards.
Using Cisco’s Webex API, judges can then click to launch their hearing’s Webex room, simultaneously notifying all participants with a link to open Webex and join the hearing. The current implementation requires participants to install the native Webex application to conduct hearings, but the forthcoming iOS (2018) and Android (2019) apps employ the Webex Teams SDK to seamlessly embed WebRTC video conferencing directly within the app.
Once both mobile apps have been officially released, the teams plan to integrate the same SDK into the web application, eliminating any need for web-based participants to install any software.
The application’s core users—judges and court-system support staff—authenticate using SAML Single Sign-On, which allows verified users to securely access the application using their existing corporate login and password. Account metadata from the court system’s Microsoft ADFS site allows the application to route judges and court-system staff to the correct dashboards and to control access to administrative features, such as site-wide messaging and report generation.
The application frontend uses Google’s translation service to support 100 different written languages and variants. All web content complies fully with NYS Policy NYS-P08-005 as described in Federal Government Publication Section 508, which specifies that all web applications used by the state should meet or exceed the standards set in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.
New York State has rolled out VirtualCourts across 22 of 26 sites with a target of 24 sites enabled before the end of 2018. The remaining sites require architecture changes that are outside the scope of the current project and will be rolled out once their respective changes are performed. This platform has streamlined multiple processes for the State of New York.
First, the hearing check-in process is completely digital. Participants no longer need to check in at a front desk, provide their information, and then wait to be called. No-shows have fewer excuses, and productivity is no longer lost to the waiting room.
Second, judges no longer have to check in with courtroom staff to see which hearings are on the docket. Judges log in to their hearing dashboard quickly and securely to see the status of each hearing.
Third, it increases the accessibility of the hearing process by allowing employers and claimants to be part of the hearings without having to leave their offices or homes. For claimants who suffer from debilitating injuries or are living out of state, the benefits of VirtualCourts are invaluable.
Finally, the virtual hearing solution is now handling 90% of all of NYS WCB hearings with plans to beat 100% (1,250 hearings per day) in early 2019. To date, over 100,000 hearings have been scheduled within the VirtualCourts platform with more than 33,000 of these involving at least one party who appeared remotely–successfully connecting injured workers, law judges, and representatives from all over New York and nationally.
The chart above shows the total number of hearings over time with the 2018 and 2019 numbers as projections based on the data that is currently available. We’re not only talking about the court system benefiting from being able to process more claims; we’re also talking about claimants getting their settlements faster, employers being able to resolve disputes quicker, lawyers being able to provide services to more people in a single year, and fewer people on the road traveling to and from WCB sites.
This platform benefits everyone in the State of New York. You can read more about this implementation of VirtualQ’s VirtualCourts here.
Cisco and Cloverhound continue to work with the customer to bring new sites online and increase functionality. Other New York court systems are following closely to see how they can leverage the same Cisco technology.
VirtualCourts was praised for revolutionizing how New York handles hearings: “This state-of-the-art, secure technology removes obstacles and stress for hard-working New Yorkers who were injured on the job, as well as for business owners and the professionals who participate in the system,” New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Chair Clarissa Rodriguez said. “Virtual hearings allow injured workers to remain in their homes and other participants to attend from their workplaces. Our successful pilot and now statewide launch demonstrate New York’s commitment to helping people hurt on the job.”
Cloverhound’s VirtualQ framework, powered by Cisco Webex Teams collaboration platform, is ready for education, healthcare, banking, and other verticals. Parents who struggle to make parent-teacher conferences can make the meetings that matter most, and educators can make the most of their office hours. Patients with mobility issues, who may otherwise struggle to make hospital visits, can still receive care. The applications of the Cloverhound VirtualQ framework are limitless. Visit cloverhound.com to learn more.
And don’t forget to experience the Cisco Webex Teams collaboration platform for yourself. Sign up for FREE here at www.webex.com/pricing/free-trial.