One of the sources of inefficiency in the current healthcare system is ineffective communications among care providers. Studies estimate that US hospitals “waste” in excess of $25 billion annually due to inefficient communications but more importantly breakdown in communications are the biggest root cause of patient Sentinel Events, according to the Joint Commission. Several of these communication challenges can be addressed through technology solutions. While technology solutions alone can’t address the issues, technology as part of a holistic approach that addresses people and process issues such as end-user training, cultural changes, workflow integration etc. can help to transform healthcare.
Unified Communications (UC), which integrates voice, video, data, mobility and presence capabilities, provides a technology platform to enhance collaboration and improve patient care while helping to reduce costs. The cost savings can help pay for the investment in UC and can also help to fund investments in advanced collaboration solutions. However, leading Healthcare organizations are looking beyond cost savings to even greater sources of business value that UC can drive and are integrating UC and collaboration capabilities into workflows to enhance staff productivity, improve patient safety, enhance quality of care and deliver better patient experiences.
While there are a number of innovative examples of collaboration solutions that are driving value in Healthcare, organizations can start to realize quick wins through capabilities such as:
Wireless IP phones for nurses to enhance mobility and productivity
Nurse call integration with wireless phones to reduce response time to patient requests
Asset and resource tracking from wireless and wired phones to reduce patient waiting time and enhance staff productivity
On-demand video based language interpretation to reduce patient waiting time, enhance interpreter productivity and improve quality of care
These are just a few examples of solutions that organizations are deploying. How are you addressing the communication challenges to enhance patient care? Are you able to provide your clinicians with the right patientinformation and access to the right people at the right time so that they can deliver the most appropriate care? How do clinical collaboration solutions fit in your overall strategy and roadmap? What solutions if any have you deployed and what business value have you realized?
This is a great topic, and I know you have a number of case studies on Cisco.com that highlight each of the points you make below.
UniComm Consulting takes a "value chain" approach to this and evaluates the application of the "Top 5 UC Application" categories to Healthcare settings. Here's a high-level example showing such a mapping. You can click on the image to get a better view.
This can produce a set of use cases that will usually include integration of communications into the HIPAA-driven work portals of most Healthcare operations. Certainly an XML display on a Cisco 7921 is one example, but we often find the need to move to the advanced, browser-based wireless devices such as BlackBerry and iPhone, or even tablet format PCs. Of course, Cisco has the tools to do this, along with your partners such as TriPractix. But it does move beyond the in-building network, usually involving secure, encrypted communications on the public wireless carrier networks. Many hospitals are looking into DAS applications to allow the physicians, who often are not employees (thus the hospital cannot give them a phone), to interact with the care process even when ont on the hospital or clinic premises.
Of course, the application providers -- McKesson, GE, Cerner, et al. -- are fueling this shift in communications packaging with embedded IM, softphone and video elements. It will be in Cisco's interest to provide an open environment and even seed these producers apps with Cisco communications modules.