Around the world, healthcare consumers face more crowded emergency rooms, longer wait times for procedures and higher out-of-pocket expenses.
It’s not surprising. As the population ages, healthcare systems experience greater demand. And it’s not just patients who are growing older. Soon, healthcare professionals themselves will be retiring in record numbers, and new staff won’t be able to replace them one for one. Combine this with rising medical costs, changing payment models and a more competitive environment, and you’ll understand why many experts predict severe stress for the healthcare industry.
How can technology help? With unified communications (UC), cloud-based technologies can actually reduce costs, build stronger clinical outcomes and increase patient satisfaction.
Build a strong healthcare ecosystem
Traditionally, separate entities – like hospitals and physician practices – focused only on their own organizations’ efficiency. But research shows that better patient health results not only from what happens during a procedure, but from how the entire system communicates with them before, during and after.
“There is a real recognition that the critical things necessary to keep a patient who is discharged from a hospital [from returning] in the same month, probably isn’t about the biology of what happened in the hospital,” explains Kaveh Safavi, Accenture’s Senior Managing Director, Health Industry. “But it might have everything to do with who’s going to take them to their appointment, who is going to help them get their drugs, (and) will they understand the drug instructions they were given.”
To provide this kind of holistic patient care requires communications technology that can allow all participants in the healthcare ecosystem to collaborate and share key information with ease.
Find the right platform for your needs
A good UC solution enables diverse devices (such as mobile and desktop) to communicate via voice, messaging and video. It allows participants to easily conference, collaborate and even share complex data, like medical records and reports.
It also needs to be compatible with third-party applications that are essential to healthcare’s core business processes, like billing and electronic record keeping. It should be scalable and flexible, so that as needs change, you won’t have to buy new software or hardware. With a push of a button, you should be able to add new features and increase capabilities.
When investing in a unified communications solution for your healthcare organization, consider these features:.
Healthcare providers and patients both benefit from seamless communications. Providers can capture key consumer data at the same time as they offer today’s tech-adept consumers multichannel access to their physicians and medical information. Now, conversations can happen via text, video and chat, in addition to voice. “As technology affords greater opportunities for self-management, it’s empowering people to consume healthcare on their own terms,” notes Accenture.
A good cloud-based contact center does more than answer the phone. It can route inbound callers to the right party the first time, announce patients’ arrival at the facility – shortening wait times and reducing missed visits – and even automate appointment reminders to free up precious staff time and improve clinical results.
Just as in the business world, patients have come to expect an easy, personalized flow of information when they contact their healthcare providers. Choose a UC-based contact center solution that integrates with your healthcare applications. When physicians have easy access to patient data, they can resolve issues faster.
One of the most powerful features of UC is the ability for geographically dispersed professionals to easily collaborate. A physician can begin consulting with a specialist via video with one click. Collaboration tools make it easy to share files and come to a faster, more informed decision for the patient. And no matter which devices are used, a common interface via the internet makes it possible for this communication to occur in real-time.
Unified communications opens a world of exciting possibilities for healthcare that will improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs, enabling medical professionals to give more effective care in a more timely and convenient manner for patients.