Unified communications, sometimes abbreviated UC, refers to a suite of communication tools that integrate seamlessly in one easy-to-use platform. It combines texting, business chat, email, voice calling, video calling, and faxing for lightning-fast collaboration. Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) enables continuous communication with all team members, from anywhere in the world, through cloud-based software.
When one person needs to contact another, they can use one number to reach that person on any device. They also can choose the best communication method for every interaction. The UC interface also tracks presence information, so staff members can see if the person they need to reach is in a meeting, with a patient, working from home, or in the office.
From doctor’s offices and hospitals to telehealth providers and at-home care specialists, unified communications make the medical industry more efficient. To help you learn more, we’ve compiled the top five ways UCaaS benefits health care companies like yours.
1. Connecting Teams Across Departments
The fundamental goal of unified communications is to make digital collaboration effortless. Whether a fellow team member is in the office next door or in another country, starting a conversation and sharing documents is simple. This is especially important in the medical field. People who work in this sector spend lots of time on their feet, and the workforce is becoming increasingly distributed. In-home care specialists, mobile clinics, and doctors conducting telehealth appointments extend the workplace beyond the traditional office, and health care networks also are growing more complex. They’re incorporating labs, clinics, diagnostic centers, pharmacies, in-home care agencies, small private practices, and hospitals.
As more teams, specialists, and institutions join the same network, they need to collaborate efficiently with team members and departments from other hospital wings and other locations. With unified communications solutions, it happens as seamlessly as if they were all in the same office talking face-to-face. The technology allows teams to schedule employees, coordinate appointments, and simplify other administrative tasks.
Integrations with document-sharing tools allow primary care physicians to discuss test results with specialists or quickly loop in other doctors for a second opinion. Other productivity tools allow doctors and nurses to log information about patients and ensure everyone else has the most up-to-date care plan. Since UC cloud-based platforms are 100 percent scalable, companies can collaborate across a vast health care network without significant IT equipment investments. Adding new team members is as quick as creating a new login.
2. Reducing Internal Costs
Years ago, UC systems required a considerable investment in on-premise technology. Every team member needed a connected telephone at their desk. Supporting software for desktop and mobile devices meant hosting and maintaining physical servers on-site. With cloud technology, health care businesses can host their UCaaS system remotely and much more affordably than with physical servers. Voice calls, video conferencing, and messaging can happen anywhere from a mobile phone to a desktop computer with no separate telephone required. For example, hosted UC through ClearPath can save companies 40 percent over traditional phone lines.
Meanwhile, faster, smoother communication saves precious time. Health care workers can get answers, lab results, and other information more quickly and treat patients more efficiently. When every staff member spends less time waiting for responses and directives, the whole company saves money. What’s more, doctors and specialists can participate in conferences from anywhere in the world, which can eliminate travel costs.
When health care workers can communicate in real time from anywhere, they mitigate costly communication errors. Recent estimates indicate that eliminating mistakes in care coordination could save the health care industry $29.6 billion to $38.2 billion annually. Streamlining collaboration with unified communications is a crucial step toward that goal.
3. Providing Tools Needed for Telehealth
In recent years, telehealth has evolved from a helpful innovation to a required technology. As far back as 2017, 76 percent of hospitals were using telehealth to connect with patients or consult with health practitioners. Doctors say that roughly 51 percent of their patient interactions were via telemedicine in 2020, and they expect that proportion to hold at a minimum of 21 percent in the coming years.
One of the benefits of unified communications in health care is that it allows companies to engage in telemedicine while following data privacy requirements. The software can provide a secure video conferencing connection within the practice’s secure, data-compliant cloud network. Video conferencing also can allow medical professionals to examine patients visually or conduct field training with live visuals.
Instant messaging features let patients book appointments and reach administrative staff or discuss concerns directly with a doctor. Administrative staff can even share paperwork with patients digitally, so they can sign forms remotely before arriving for an in-person appointment.
4. Allowing for Instant Health Data Access
Instant access to data streamlines business in almost any industry. In health care, it can impact patient outcomes. During medical emergencies, first responders must move with incredible speed to deliver critical care. Without a patient’s medical history, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) en route to the hospital must gather much information about a patient’s situation. They must also communicate it quickly to the doctors who will treat the patient on arrival.
With a UC system, EMTs can transmit medical information on the go so health care workers can jump in right away when the patient arrives. They can also pull up a patient’s existing medical records and doctor’s notes from the ambulance.
Outside of medical emergencies, real-time data access can shorten doctor’s visits and hospital stays. At doctor’s offices, technicians and physicians can use UC to pull up medical records in a few simple clicks. They also can send alerts in real time to coordinate staff members between exam rooms. That way, health care technicians can prepare patients for doctors and shorten wait times. In hospitals, instant data sharing can push medical scans and other test results to the requesting parties as soon as they become available. It allows staff to make quicker decisions about patient care and free up rooms faster.
5. Using Enhanced Security to Maintain Compliance
The health care industry is vulnerable to many security threats and faces more data privacy regulations than other industries. When health care companies incorporate any technology, they need to ensure it aligns with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other data privacy regulations. While today’s software market offers thousands of free and paid video conferencing, collaboration, and document storage tools, most are not HIPAA-compliant.
Top unified cloud communications platforms offer high-level data privacy capabilities. Some of the high-level security features of unified communications incorporate data encryption, advanced user authentication, and built-in threat detection. With cloud-based software solutions, all updates and security patches install automatically, eliminating opportunities for attackers to access a system through an outdated software version. Plus, since UC integrates all tools into one platform, it simplifies IT security infrastructure. Instead of monitoring security in many disparate systems, your IT team can integrate one software platform with its existing security infrastructure.
Learn About Our UCaaS Platforms and Contact Us to Learn More
At Consolidated Technologies, Inc., our mission is to Help our Customers Succeed. We specialize in developing custom technology solutions for the most demanding technology environments, like health care companies. We recognize the importance of unified communications and other modern technology solutions for busy providers and sophisticated health care systems. We’ll create a UCaaS solution that’s HIPAA-compliant and has the architecture to support a complex network of patients, providers, and locations.
Learn about the cloud-based UC solutions we can implement for your business, and take advantage of our cybersecurity and IT expertise to manage it most effectively. Or, contact our team to discuss your unique needs and find the solution that’s right for you.
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