Telehealth Making Strides Thanks To Cloud UC

    Much of the discussion that has surrounded cloud unified communications is in relation to the changing needs of the workforce. Mobile employees are more common than ever, and as such businesses are looking for ways to support modern professionals. But the use of UC in the cloud is not limited to staff satisfaction. In fact, there are many instances where customers can also experience the benefits of next-level telecom.

    Perhaps one of the most impressive examples of this development lies in the healthcare sphere. Doctor offices and hospitals could certainly use the convenience of the cloud when it comes to communicating with patients. Not everyone has or is even able to come all the way out for a physical appearance in many instances. But since there is a growing number of people connected via smartphones and tablets, the world of telehealth is taking off in incredible ways. Much of this can be attributed to changing attitudes held by companies regarding their end users. While it might seem strange to consider it as such, a hospital still has to run like a business. But that doesn't mean that customer empathy doesn't apply to the doctor/patient relationship - it's crucial. In fact, the two go hand in hand.

    "In my view, empathy is about caring for people and having a deep desire to help them," wrote InformationWeek contributor Todd Dunn. "What is the inclination of your organization? Customer empathy is an attitude and an action. To deliver great products that delight customers, we must be sensitive to the customers' feelings, thoughts, experiences, and environment. We need to observe these things because so much of this is implicitly understood versus explicitly described."

    The outlook for telemedicine is a good one. Like other industries, hospitals will be able to retain clientele based on their ability to embrace new technologies. A big part of this will be about investing in the right cloud UC assets in order to best assist those in need.

    Multiple Areas Of Telehealthcare Experiencing Growth

    The rise of telemedicine is not just about cutting down on actual visits when they're not warranted. Part of the reason that these services are increasing in popularity is because of the geographical dispersal of health professionals and the people who need their help. This is especially true in terms of mental health facilities. According to a study conducted by Medicaid, only 20 percent of adults who need this kind of assistance don't get the help they need, and much of the problem has to do with the availability of specialists in certain parts of the country.

    "There's a lack of available qualified providers. There's a terrible access problem," said Harvard psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Gentile to InformationWeek contributor Alison Diana. "It's tough to match up an appointment time for when it's convenient for you. Stigma is also huge in the mental health field. People don't want to be seen by their neighbor in the waiting room."

    But thanks to the evolution of telecommunications hardware and programs, these kinds of things can be easily dealt with. There is a level of convenience and privacy that can only be obtained through remote connections, and as such there is increasing interest in the cloud communications tools that will help facilitate better relationships with patients - both potential and existing.

    Supporting Patients Like Customers

    According to Todd, there are multiple questions that healthcare IT needs to be asking itself about the people it ultimately serves. Think about what patients are reading about in the way of telemedicine. How would they respond to their hospital offering these kinds of services? What would they be able to gain from moving to a healthcare provider who is available through cloud UC? Ultimately, everything boils down to having empathy for the end user, which Todd judges by the use of something he refers to as the "love metric."

    "Underlying an empathetic mindset is a deep curiosity to find out the answers to these and many more questions," Todd stated. "It is also supported by a desire to delight users with your product or service. ... Remember, the love metric measures the benefit the customer is expecting to get, not what you actually delivered - nor whether you were on time, on budget, or on scope."

    These kinds of considerations will likely lead healthcare organizations to pursue cloud communications for their patient interactions. Healthcare is a never-ending process that can benefit from the constant connectivity inherent of cloud UC. Through properly-integrated video, voice and instant messaging capabilities, hospitals and other facilities can empower themselves and their clientele through telehealth initiatives. The future is likely to be rife with organizations that offer remote services, and those who want to keep up will need to invest in these kinds of telecom networks.