In a space like healthcare operations, where every meeting has the potential to impact the well-being of patients, the need for effective collaboration technology is very important. The use cases have expanded beyond audio and video calls in conference rooms to include medical teams collaborating in real-time to coordinate patient care and specialists consulting with each other to solve complex problems, leading to exponential opportunities to enhance operations.
Doctor-patient consultations are one example. A modern collaboration platform allows physicians to share content wirelessly from their laptop or tablet to a room display. This same room display can double as digital art or signage until needed for consultations.
Telesitting apps give clinicians the ability to look in on patients and have audio and video conversations with them without the need to enter their room. Depending on the equipment deployed, clinicians can even zoom in and scan a room to decide if they need an in-person follow-up. Telesitting is particularly important in infectious disease wards where limiting disease transmission is paramount. When used for two-way virtual bedside check-ins by caregivers — as opposed to one-way monitoring by technicians — telesitting has been shown to reduce feelings of isolation, leading to improved outcomes
As healthtech expands, so do the challenges for IT. Regulations are front and center, from HIPAA compliance to ensuring patient privacy. Security is a constant challenge, from endpoint security to integration with third-party systems, as well as deciding whether to deploy on premises or in the cloud. And introducing new technology into an active hospital environment that never really pauses is a challenge unto itself. New technology requires training a variety of staff, including nurses, clinicians, and administrators. It could also require changing well-established workflows. Finally, the rapid increase in technology innovation in healthcare requires IT staff to continually assess what to deploy — and when.
Given the unique opportunities and challenges in healthcare operations, what does the ideal collaboration solution look like?
First, it meets regulatory compliance, whether HIPAA or company policy. The ideal solution simplifies deployment by using standard industry components, whether that is audiovisual equipment such as microphones and cameras, or the PCs that are already in place in clinical environments. BYOD is common today for patients and clinicians, so a solution should be device-agnostic and support a wide variety of operating systems. Management and configuration deployment should be available in the cloud, but also on premises to accommodate an IT department’s security profile. It should be easy to learn and use and it should integrate into existing workflows to avoid retraining and asking already overburdened users to dramatically change how they operate. Finally, extensibility and open platform are key, allowing the addition of new features via off-the-shelf apps or the opportunity for developers to create custom solutions.
Research has shown that a collaborative practice model can improve patient outcomes while reducing cost of care, making choosing the right collaboration solution one of the most important decisions healthcare operations can make.