Benefits of Unified Communications in a Healthcare Setting

nec-unified-communications-healthcareToday’s healthcare professionals are highly mobile and as a result require tools that provide instant access to crucial information and communications with their colleagues. Safety, quality, costs and staffing shortages are just some of the critical factors impacting patient care in hospitals today, making efficient communications more essential than ever before. According to the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2012-Nurse Leaders Report, top priorities for nurse leaders for the next three years include patient experience and satisfaction, clinical quality and safety, and process improvement with a noticeable reduction in cost.

Chief Nursing Officers (CNO) also have concern regarding risk mitigation, staffing issues, and regulatory agency visits (such as the Joint Commission). If you are one of the many healthcare organizations considering Unified Communications technology to enhance your clinical operations, consider some of the ways Unified Communications can optimize your clinical workflow:
1. Real-Time Information/Secure Communications-
Unified Communications technology enables the delivery of real-time information to clinicians. Through quickly relaying time-sensitive data, UC plays a huge role in risk mitigation by reducing the possibility of error and unnecessary treatments. Incorporating Unified Communications into a healthcare setting can also speed up the overall process of preparation, which in turn increases productivity and efficiency. Having real-time, reliable access to patient data allows you to leverage your UC investment and, more importantly, see a reduction in inaccuracies and improvements in the quality of healthcare your organization provides. With Unified Communications, clinical messages are delivered securely, with full data encryption and enforced user authentication. The secure communication feature of Unified Communications keeps information from Electronic Health Records (EHR) safe, enabling you to meet the stringent compliance requirements of healthcare organizations.
2. Improved Staff Collaboration and Satisfaction-
With advanced, easy-to-use communication solutions, clinical and operational workflows are dramatically improved. Unified Communications gives you the ability to integrate clinical applications, which in turn makes it easier to achieve other clinical needs such as ongoing medical education and training. An additional element of improved staff collaboration is theutilization of a mass notification system as well as the ability for clinicians to make decisions in a timelier manner.

In a hospital setting, implementing a mass notification system extends beyond emergencies – doctors, nurses and administrative staff can also be alerted of shift changes or increased availability. A mass notification system will allow the same message to be broadcast to hundreds, or even thousands, of people, and some advanced systems include instant recipient response and polling. Do you have a message or question that needs to be dispersed immediately? Mass communications can be sent to personal and internal devices by email, voice, SMS and other communication venues so that within minutes everyone who is affected by the content of the message has received it.

3. Improved Patient Care/Flow-
Since Unified Communications enables clinicians to receive alerts and notifications immediately and directly on their preferred device, your hospital can optimize patient flow by reducing patient waiting time, coordination time for staff, and patient length of stay, resulting in quicker bed turnover. Nurse-patient face time is also increased as a result. This makes for an improved patient experience as well as improved clinical outcomes.
4. Increased Revenue-
The revenue cycle in a healthcare setting is driven strongly by communications, and inefficient communications can result in high capital loss due to delays and errors. With Unified Communications you can merge your various clinical information systems into a single, easily managed solution which will help to optimize communications and increase revenue. For example, the quicker bed turnover we mentioned previously can generate additional revenue, and the improved clinical workflows and staff efficiencies yielded as a result of UC deployment can reduce overall costs. When you’re pondering whether or not Unified Communications has a place in your hospital environment, it is important to keep in mind that clinical needs should control the technology solutions you implement, not vice versa. To learn more about the value you can add by deploying Unified Communications in a healthcare setting, download this webinar.

Top 5 Non-Emergency Uses For Mass Notification

nec-mass-notificationWhat do you do when you need to deliver time-sensitive information to hundreds, or even thousands of people? Do you have a mass notification system in place to help get the word out quickly and efficiently? There are times when alerts sent to the general population of a hospital, school or business are not only helpful, but necessary. In a hospital setting, implementing a mass notification system extends beyond emergencies – doctors, nurses and administrative staff can also be alerted of shift changes or increased availability. This can be accomplished with little to no effort when a mass notification system is in place. With the systems that are available today, the same message can be broadcast to literally thousands of people. For those messages that need to be dispersed quickly, mass communication sent to personal devices is becoming very popular. Within minutes, an important alert can be sent in a timely fashion to everyone who is affected by the content of the message.
Mass Communication Alerts

Historically, the reason for a mass communication has been emergency related. Mass communication alerts have typically been sent for extreme weather bulletins or when there is a dangerous situation taking place at a specific location, such as a particular building on a campus or business site. While mass notification systems incorporate a variety of response mechanisms to allow educational institutions to improve their communications in the event of an emergency, the systems can also be used to improve the business process of hospitals as well as major corporations.

Now that alerts have become broader in scope, it is becoming more common to see alerts about:

  1. Event Notification: to alert of upcoming, canceled, or even impromptu events
  2. Attendance alerts: in an educational setting, this can alert parents and guardians when a student is tardy or absent.
  3. News Updates: about a particular item that affects the group.
  4. Building Closure: for maintenance reasons or an outage of electricity.
  5. Ad-hoc meetings: when it is necessary to gather a group of individuals

There are multiple methods of communicating messages, from text messages and e-mail alerts to delivering a voice message. Read on to determine the differences and assess for yourself which would be most successful within your organization.

How are messages delivered?

Most systems offer features which allow you to call recipients and leave a pre-recorded message. Seems simple, but on one hand, when a call is received from an unknown phone number, it is often ignored or sent to voice mail. Thus, defeating the whole purpose of the mass notification, as the event may have already taken place once the recipient retrieves the voice mail.  In response to this, some systems have taken steps to alleviate this problem and skip calls altogether and send a text message. This approach could prove more successful, since research shows that when a text is received, it is often checked sooner than a voice mail even from a known caller. It is quicker to check when the phone signal is weak and the receiver can still get the full text message. The New York Times references data from uReach Technologies, who operates the voice messaging systems of a leading wireless provider. The data states that over30 percent of voice messages go unheard for a minimum of three days. But what about wireless subscribers who do not use or even have the ability to send or receive text messages?
This is where multi-modal systems come in and prove to be most effective. Leading manufacturers now offer multi-modal systems, which allow you to use multiple delivery methods to communicate your message. Whether you want to send a voice call, e-mail or text, these multi-modal systems can handle it all. Some systems have the ability to know when a voicemail system answers and can leave a message but also continue to contact other devices simultaneously, avoiding any downtime in getting the word out. Are you the information officer for a large school district and wondering how you will know if students, faculty and parents received your message? Or maybe you work in a hospital setting and you’re experience a staff shortage so you need to alert team members who are not currently in the hospital. How will you know if they’ve received word that they’re needed? Problem solved – when you select a mass notification system that offers full reporting capabilities so you can always keep track of who received your message.
Deploying: Premise-based vs. hosted 
If cost is your major concern, then a premise-based system will prove to be more cost-effective than hosted with delivering mass notification alerts. Emergency notification lends itself to utilizing larger numbers of lines and shared equipment to get critical information out to big groups as rapidly as possible, and in those cases hosted solutions may be ideal.  For ongoing, less time-sensitive communications however, a small investment in technology can lead to large returns in stakeholder experience and loyalty.  By using trunks and lines that are already paid for, in most cases there will be no additional operational expenditure to send these messages. Regardless of your preferred method, it is necessary to take the steps to implement a mass communications system, as early warning is critical since most people in these environments cannot be mobilized easily.

It has the brains of a doctor

Young Frankenstein

I guess we were inspired by Dr. Frankenstein?

e-Pathologist is the latest NEC product that makes you say “I didn’t know you guys did that?” This system, which is being tested at Massachusetts General Hospital, can examine and determine if a tissue sample is cancerous. This will reduce the workload of pathology departments and in return increase the response time for a diagnosis.

If you want all the fact and figures check out the Press Release.