5 Reasons Why Unified Communications Will Revolutionise Healthcare
Unified Communications (UC), the technology platform that integrates all digital communications in one user-friendly system, promises to revolutionise the healthcare sector in the next five years.
With a secure platform that is accessible from any device, network or location, UC will enable seamless collaboration between healthcare professionals. At the same time UC gives patients the chance to have a greater say in how they are treated and offers hospitals and community clinics the opportunity to work more efficiently and safely to achieve positive healthcare outcomes.
Read on to discover the key benefits of UC in the healthcare environment.
UC makes patient-centred care intuitive and easy to manage
In healthcare today there is an emphasis on patient-centred care, moving away from the traditional ‘doctor knows best’ attitude to a collaborative approach where doctors sit side by side with patients to discuss their results and healthcare options. UC technology makes these conversations more intuitive, for example providing a mobile beside workstation where patients can view their health record and treatment plan. With a user-friendly interface, Unified Communications makes doctor-patient conversations richer and more meaningful by putting all the relevant information in one place.
The advent of electronic health records means that any authorised medical professional can have to access a patient’s lab results, medical imaging, medical history and previous drug prescriptions in real time, making it easier than ever to have complete and up to date medical information before making important clinical decisions.
In modern medicine patients are often treated by a team of professionals, including general practitioners, nurses, therapists and specialist clinicians in different locations. UC provides a single platform where all of these professionals can work together to ensure the best possible outcome for each patient, no matter which device they use or where they are based.
Each healthcare professional has an individual login to a secure system that ensures patient privacy but allows the right people to access, share and update the patient’s electronic health record instantly, making treatment as safe and efficient as possible.
Healthcare professionals can work more efficiently as a team
With easily accessible electronic health records accessible from a PC, Smartphone or tablet, clinicians can access up to the minute information on their patients as new information becomes available. This could be the result of blood tests from the lab or the latest MRI or X-ray images. Because information can be accessed remotely, staff are freed from having to be in one location and can balance competing demands without losing focus on patient treatment and care.
UC allows doctors to make clinical decisions remotely and enables instant communication to the rest of the healthcare team, through a video conference, email or text, allowing those at the bedside to administer drugs or other therapies as indicated by specialists who may not be able to be physically present.
At the same time, UC can allow nurses can spend more of their day undertaking patient care, rather than contacting consulting clinicians, chasing lab results or relaying messages to the larger healthcare team.
Another significant advantage of the system is that it helps healthcare staff to coordinate their workflow, using digital whiteboards that allow authorised staff to see the status of patients on a clinical ward at a glance. This technology can allow hospital managers to make best use of their resources and can also make ensure handovers between shifts are much smoother, avoiding communication failures that can sometimes occur at busy times.
UC can help to avoid adverse events
If a patient’s biometric ID is digitally linked to their electronic health record it makes it very difficult for patients to be mixed up in a complex health system, or for the wrong treatment to be given because of poor communication. UC provides real time information, so that doctors have a complete medical picture, which can help to avoid prescribing the wrong drug or missing an important detail in the medical record.
In situations where there is a shortage of specialist doctors, UC can allow healthcare professionals access to contact colleagues using video consults to ensure that patients receive a diagnosis or monitoring when they need it. This can help to prevent situations where a patient’s health deteriorates because they are unable to access the right care at the right time.
UC enables flexible community care
A unified communications platform is not just about using existing digital technologies to treat patients in hospitals, but can be used to provide care to patients in the community. Video conferencing, emails and texts can be used to follow up and monitor patients who have recently received treatment so that medical staff can check how they are recovering at home.
At the same time, technology such as digital heart and blood pressure monitors can be used to track the vital signs of at-risk patients, checking in real time for warning signs and alerting patients and medical staff if these signs point to a critical event such as an impending heart attack. With joined-up technology such as this, the system can warn the patient of the danger via a text or voice call, notify an ambulance to go to their location using GPS and inform the medical team that the patient is on their way for treatment. In this way it is hoped the technology will prevent serious health complications and premature death.
Healthcare providers will also focus on communicating with family caregivers at home to ensure that healthcare needs are being met and that the correct support is provided for each patient depending on their individual needs.
UC enables medical staff to treat more patients
Specialised UC apps can free medical professionals from routine tasks such as prescription reissuing and chasing medical results, allowing them to spend their time on patient care. At the same time, with more options to treat patients remotely using HD video calls, doctors can save time on individual house visits or avoid lengthy travel to hospitals for consultations. While video consults may not be appropriate in every case, they offer patients and healthcare professionals greater flexibility in managing treatment in a range of situations.
With a more joined up approach in the future, it is likely that doctors will focus on the most at-risk patients with complex needs, while highly qualified nurse practitioners will help patients with more basic ailments. These patients are likely to receive computer-monitored follow up, which will provide positive feedback as they achieve their health goals. This means that doctors are likely to see fewer patients face to face, but a much higher number via video link and messaging.
Overall the number of patients receiving regular contact with their healthcare provider will increase, but UC will change the nature of that contact, tailoring healthcare communication to the individual needs of each patient.
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