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Vonage Takes Care of Healthcare with New Services, APIs

Cloud communications provider Vonage this week announced Nexmo APIs for the healthcare industry and an extension to its Enterprise Plan for Nexmo that can help accelerate healthcare digital transformation plans. These aren’t new APIs per se, but rather they are now HIPAA compliant to ensure privacy.
For example, Nexmo’s OpenTok Live Video API, which can be used for real-time telehealth, achieves its compliance through encrypted media streams, recordings, advanced security, and analytics. Also, the Nexmo Verify API enables two-factor authentication to prevent fraud. Other APIs include SMS, voice, chat, or other capabilities. Healthcare organizations may have shied away from using a cloud service like Nexmo in fear of violating compliance mandates. Achieving HIPAA compliance should alleviate those concerns.
The key benefit of the API approach is that communications services can be integrated directly into the tools that healthcare professionals use on a day-to-day basis without the concern of violating HIPAA regulations. This is significantly easier than rolling out standalone systems that require processes to be built around them.
Many doctors, specialists, and other clinicians are using video systems, but these often require the patient to go to a facility to speak to a remote doctor. For example, prior to my mother passing in late 2018, she was able to consult with a remote oncologist over video but had to drive about 30 minutes to the closest hospital that had a video system to “meet” with him and then drive home again. The wear and tear on a person that is ill or elderly can be avoided if the sessions can be done from the comfort of their living room instead of waiting in a makeshift video room in a building filled with other sick people. Many healthcare organizations have been reticent to go the API route for fear of violating privacy regulations.
In addition to the APIs, Vonage announced a new addition to its global Enterprise Plan to help healthcare organizations fast-track digital transformation plans. If you’re not familiar with Vonage’s Enterprise Plan, it’s a turnkey program to help businesses adopt APIs faster and risk free. The Enterprise Plan includes the following components:
  • Vonage Nexmo APIs
  • Enterprise Grade Support
    • Phone, chat, email, and web
    • Guaranteed response times
    • 24x7 escalation
    • Designated support engineers
  • Service Delivery
    • Custom onboarding
    • Monthly health checks
    • Quarterly business reviews
  • Nexmo Accelerate Services
    • Education on the use of APIs
    • Advisory services on architecture
    • Configuration and optimization support
    • Project planning, documentation, and peer review
  • Platform SLAs
    • Four 9s for video
    • Five 9s for messaging, voice, and authentication
Specifically for healthcare, Vonage will go to market with a number of Nexmo Healthcare Enterprise Service Packages for a wide range of use cases including the following:
  • Doctor/Patient Virtual Health
  • Mental Health Consultations
  • Group Therapy & Support
  • Expert Medical Collaboration
  • Pre-Op Remote Visits
  • Post-Op Home Monitoring
  • Fitness and Wellness Tools
  • Health Education
The verticalization of the Enterprise Plan shows Vonage has now put its big boy pants on and is ready to go after the enterprise market. Too often, vendors rely specifically on technology to differentiate it and leave it up to their customers to figure out how to use the products or services. Most of the major IT companies -- Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon, and others -- have embraced the concept of adoption services to ensure their customers are successful. The Vonage APIs are interesting, but the healthcare-focused Enterprise Service Packages ensure hospitals, clinics, research facilities, and others understand how to best use modern communications to improve healthcare without putting patients and customers at risk. Any vendor that has rolled out adoption services -- even ones that aren’t as robust as the ones from Vonage -- generally sees larger deals that are higher margin with increased stickiness from the customers. It’s a good indicator that Vonage understands the difference between selling to enterprises and smaller organizations.
Healthcare is constantly changing its HIPAA, privacy, security, and data management guidelines. Part of the commitment from Vonage-Nexmo is that its APIs and services are continually evolving to meet regulatory compliance. This lets the healthcare organization focus on creating better patient and clinician experiences and leave the heavy lifting to Vonage.
For all the talk of healthcare advancements in this country, most of the focus has been on insurance reform and not understanding how to improve the quality of care. Too often, the sick, elderly and handicapped need to make long trips to a healthcare facility to meet with a specialist only to be told their doctor is running an hour behind and are forced to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room with other sick people.
In this era of ubiquitous video, messaging, integrated voice, and content sharing, there is zero reason why patients need to be put through this. It’s time for the healthcare industry to step up and focus on the patient. Tools like the Nexmo healthcare APIs can help, but the Enterprise Service Plan makes them consumable, minimizes risk, and removes excuses.