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The Impact of Unified Communications in Healthcare

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 14:00
UC Impact Healthcare

In the healthcare field, quick and effective communications are critical. The internet and advancements in technology have given physician’s offices, diagnostic centers, and hospitals the ability for improved information sharing, leading to the potential for continued, significant gains in the quality of care provided.  However, there is still room for improvement in communications that unite care team members.

According to a recent Harris Poll survey of nearly 1000 providers, 53% of them oftentimes don’t possess the contact information for the right care team member in a specific position, across a particular shift.  Due to communication blocks like this that occur in many healthcare systems, value-based care models – connecting the doctor, patient, and entire team together for collaboration – are becoming the norm, thanks to the power of Unified Communications (UC).

The power of Unified Communications – Keeping Hospital Staff Members Connected

The interworking of hospital care teams has been likened to that of a pit crew.  Each person acts like part of a well-oiled machine, performing their tasks efficiently and effectively.  A key component of success in any coordinated group – especially one where lives are at stake and time is of the essence – is rapid and accurate communications.  Physicians on-call need to stay connected to nursing staff and other colleagues; nurses need to stay in touch with one another to stay abreast of changing patient needs.

Communications in the field of healthcare can take a variety of forms: email, messaging, paging, phone calls, video/web conferencing, or clinical applications.  IT vendors like Microsoft are looking to provide enterprise healthcare institutions (like hospitals) with Unified Communicationsthrough their Lync application.  UC tools like Lync combine video and web conferencing, instant messaging, voice capabilities, and mobility all in one comprehensive communications package.  Offering a suite of Unified Communications tools lowers costs and increases ROI.  It also provides these types of institutions with the real-time communications necessary for time-crunched decisions.

Collaboration with other Physicians and Specialists

UC can give physicians improved collaboration over patient cases with other specialists and experts in the field.  Utilizing UC tools provides for a timelier consensus on patient care and treatment plans, as well as easing the travel burden associated with these kinds of consultation sessions.  Patient records can be shared across devices in real-time and physicians can chime in across the globe via the communication device and method of their choice – through mobile apps, instant messaging, email, or video and web conferencing.

In the hospital ER, response times are vital.  Enabling clinicians to increase the speed of time-to-treatment not only impacts quality and operational efficiencies – it saves lives.  For example, using Unified Communications, St. Johns Hospital in Detroit was able to realize an improved throughput in the ER.  And more importantly, through upgrades to their UC system, they were able to administer the life-saving Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) drug – that works on the clotting system for stroke treatment – to 3 times as many patients exhibiting symptoms of a stroke.  Moreover, through the use of Unified Communications, Memorial Care Hospital in West Virginia was able to reduce the patient-to-nurse-to-doctor communication cycle time by an astounding two-thirds.  Quicker communications between critical hospital staff members saves time, money, and inevitably, more lives.

 

Benefits to Home Healthcare

Unified Communications allows doctors and outpatient nurses who need to follow-up with patients post-op or for home rehabilitative care, to do so through any device, almost anywhere.  For example, patients in rehab facilities can connect through a laptop, tablet, or another mobile device to a physical therapy session inside a hospital gym in real-time.  Moreover, practitioners and nurses are able to save on travel time and expenses to and from patient homes through video conferencing and instant messaging follow-ups and check-ins.  For instance, patients can use integrated cameras on mobile devices to provide wound care healing progress or infection checks, from the comfort of their home.

Furthermore, Unified Communications has the potential to increase access to quality healthcare in rural communities. Technology can now allow rural patients to see specialists without leaving their communities, permits local providers to take advantage of distant expertise, and improves timeliness of care.  Doctors can use videoconferencing, images and videos, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health apps to connect with patients whose closest health center could literally be hours away.

Patient Communications

Doctors now have a variety of means for communicating with their patients via UC, whether these methods are used in delivering test results, refilling prescriptions, updating patient charts, and so on.  Text alerts and mobile e-charts allow patients quicker access to complete medical test results and their complete health history.  These UC features and many more enhance the timeliness and effectiveness of doctor and patient communications.  Healthcare systems can realize all the benefits of UC through the implementation of a cloud-based VoIP hosted communications system.

As the first provider of cloud-based hosted communications to the enterprise, West Unified Communications Services has nearly fifteen years of experience helping healthcare companies close the communications gap and improve their flexibility, agility, and execution.

Overall benefits of hosted communications for healthcare companies include:

  • Better quality of care: Enhancing communication drives better interaction between staff and patients and better collaboration among medical professionals.
  • Improve business processes: Hosted communications allows healthcare companies to become more efficient and productive by transforming workflow and improving operational effectiveness.
  • Deliver better customer service: From contact centers to face-to-face interaction, the healthcare field is built on serving people. Hosted communications applications can greatly improve the customer experience by giving healthcare companies better contact center processes, enabling mobility, and making critical staff more accessible.

A complete communications healthcare solution begins with an innovative foundation – the Maxxis Application Aware network, which includes cloud–based network security combined with the VoiceMaxx Unified Communications solution. For healthcare companies, West UC delivers a custom configurable portfolio of innovative tools that can transform the way your company communicates.  The future of healthcare communications starts today – with West UC.

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