The days of the house call have dwindled for doctors and physicians. As more people became able to travel to healthcare facilities with much greater ease, house calls have often been regulated to specific circumstances or financial situations where these visits are possible. But the world around this industry is shrinking. People are now able to engage in meaningful communications that do not require them to be in the same room. Since so many workers are finding it easier collaborate from great distances, it stands to reason that in many situations a doctor could visit with a patient in their home without ever leaving the office.
But while these technologies are evolving and spreading to a larger segment of the population, many healthcare professionals have yet to embrace these new assets. This may have to do with the fact that they are still so new. But in order to foster innovation, physicians need to be disruptive. According to Forbes contributor Peter Diamandis, this can take a significant amount of courage to do – nobody wants to be left standing up for a failing solution. Telehealth practices, powered by cloud unified communications, are proving not only to be viable, but indicative of the future to come.
Telehealth Gaining Popularity
The adoption of new technology has proven to be a difficult thing for healthcare. Hesitation and concern regarding safety and security have been considerable obstacles to overcome – patient information, after all, is some of the most sensitive data currently residing in cyberspace. But for the most part, these fears have become less relevant. The cloud is proving to be an asset that is only faulty when leveraged incorrectly. This is one of the reasons that so many people are opting for hosted services when it comes time to replace their existing infrastructures – having the assistance from a team of trained professionals, while not essential should the right staff already be in place, can make all the difference and can be valuable for telehealth deployments.
According to NetworkWorld contributor Brian Eastwood, telehealth is actually one of the few major success stories to occur within an industry with such a rocky tech record. Yet even still, there are those who remain wary.
"[Telehealth] brings virtual care to underserved or remote locations," Eastwood wrote. "It gives facilities an opportunity to export expertise or, conversely, outsource costly operations. It cuts costs for healthcare systems as well as patients. For many in healthcare, though, telehealth remains a hard sell. It's an innovation in an industry that's not used to disruption. It requires technology infrastructure upgrades that carry a hefty price tag or, in the case of broadband, rely on federal action. It disrupts workflows."
But while the word "disruptive" can often carry negative connotations, it is something that many in the tech sphere consider to be a positive phenomenon. Change is good. Unified communications, for example, has made huge strides, and those who recognize and leverage new advantages are going to serve as examples for those who have yet to make the leap.
Keeping Customer Service In Mind
While it might not be readily considered as such, the doctor/patient relationship is very much a business/consumer connection. Like all organizations, healthcare facilities have to be investing in the kinds of resources that will better facilitate positive customer relationships.
"Organizations of all sizes are implored to make investments in information technology, including leveraging omni-channel capabilities, big data and sophisticated analytics, to enhance customer experiences as the best path forward for assuring the delivering of differentiated and sustainable value," wrote TMCnet contributor Peter Bernstein. "Such investments are also seen as key to retaining existing customers, getting permission to up-sell and hopefully turning loyal customers into brand advocates."
Physicians, especially, should be investigating how they can use telehealth tools to improve relations with existing clients as well as bring in new ones. Having this kind of technology is something that customers see as beneficial for them directly – not to mention a sign that the facilities in question are paying attention to new assets that will help them provide better care.
But while there will most likely be a waning resistance – if any – to these developments on the consumer side of the equation, winning over managers and decision-makers can often come with a greater set of difficulties.
Standing Up For Disruptive Technology
There are naysayers out there who believed at one point that the smartphone would have no place in enterprise. But look where it is today – it would be hard-pressing to find an enterprise employee who does not have one of these devices or doesn't use them for work-related purposes. And yet people are still adverse to new technology, especially those in the healthcare industry.
But according to Diamandis, this is par for the course. It is going to take not just adopters of cloud UC to push these changes, but advocates. Those who want to see these assets make an impact on healthcare are going to have to fight for them and continue using them in new ways.