Optimize your virtual care by using integrated solutions
June 30, 2021
The healthcare sector has adapted quickly to meet the challenges of COVID-19. The changes have included the accelerated adoption of technologies to improve the patient experience, from online solutions for remote care to pop-up testing sites, field hospitals and mass vaccination centres.
Moreover, the innovations are here to stay. According to a survey from the Canadian Medical Association, almost half (46%) of Canadians who had the opportunity to use virtual care since the pandemic began would prefer a virtual method as a first point of contact with their doctor.
As telehealth and virtual care continue to expand, there’s an opportunity for us to take a closer look and refine how various technologies are being used. We can significantly improve the experience for both providers and patients.
An increasingly complex system of care
The pandemic has brought into focus the need for secure virtual care that protects both frontline workers and patients. In a rush to address these challenges, healthcare organizations turned to a variety of consumer-grade and enterprise technology solutions to find ways to keep staff and patients safe, without compromising on care.
For doctors, nurses and administrators, this meant trying to use these new technologies effectively, while balancing new demands brought on by the pandemic. The result? Oftentimes, too many technology options with varying levels of use and effectiveness for clinicians.
So, while technology adoption has accelerated over the last year, healthcare providers should now take a moment to assess what will be best for their organization, staff and patients over the long-term.
Focusing on solutions
By looking at the overall picture – improving patient experience and outcomes – rather than focusing on what individual technologies can offer, healthcare organizations can understand how collaboration platforms, patient data and even the network can work together to streamline the patient experiences and arm physicians with the information they need.
Cisco’s Webex Instant Connect and Webex Telehealth Connector for Epic are great examples of solution-driven integrations currently being trialled by healthcare organizations in Ontario. The browser-based WebRTC technology integrates seamlessly into existing appointment workflows, with the ability to schedule and manage video consultations directly from Cerner, Epic or other Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.
It doesn’t require browser plugins or force any application installation, and patients can also join a call without logging in first, avoiding the trouble of forgotten passwords. In addition to virtual video visits, participants can share screens to review images, charts, or other clinical documents to facilitate better care conversations.
For telehealth to be sustainable post-pandemic, it has to be better than it is today – simple to use, reliable, secure and integrated into clinical workflows.
Going beyond the check-up with virtual care
We know certain changes are here to stay, like telemedicine and virtual care. However, when we think of a collaboration solution being used in a clinical setting, it’s usually focused on one thing: facilitating appointments over the phone or through video conferencing solutions like Webex. But telemedicine has the potential to go beyond a visit with your family doctor.
One example of this is the “digital front door”. Wait management has undergone a massive shift in other industries – from how you reserve a table at a restaurant to the way you check in at the airport – and the current system is due for an overhaul in healthcare.
With the digital front door, relevant pre-screening can be done at home, and when a patient arrives for their appointment, physicians can be notified and get access to the latest patient data right from a mobile app. Doctors can be armed with information they need before setting foot into the exam room, so they can focus on the treatment plan, and not the intake form, when they’re with the patient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the healthcare industry over the past year, accelerating existing trends that sought to improve patient experiences, streamlining clinical communications and supporting collaboration. The technology that will remain will need to be solutions focused to overcome an increasingly complex care environment, and ready to embrace new possibilities to improve patient experience and the delivery of care.
Troy Yoder leads Cisco’s Healthcare practice globally, where he advises healthcare providers and payers on how patient and clinician experience is rapidly evolving through applied technology.