The healthcare industry is a world unto itself, technologically. With specific needs, strict regulations, and life-or-death stakes, the healthcare industry demands technology that is completely reliable.
VoIP and unified communications (UC) has helped many healthcare organizations improve their communications and build out additional features beneficial to patients and caregivers.
Integrating Healthcare Telephony with VoIP & UC
There are many potential advantages that VoIP offers to improve telephony in healthcare situations, including hospitals, care centers, and medical research. Here are some.
Integrated Telephony Devices
VoIP allows your phone system to efficiently route phone calls to the intended recipient across devices.
What does integrated telephony look like?
Traditional telephony routes calls only to telephones. VoIP integrates your telephony, which means calls can be routed to telephones, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops securely and efficiently.
This routing can be contextual. A doctor could set her presence status to available on her smartphone, so a call that would have gone to her office instead goes to her mobile.
For a large campus or a campus with multiple locations, VoIP enables simple integration of your telephony using a single, secure virtual private network (VPN).
Certain VoIP providers offer HIPAA-approved voicemail and call recording. (We don’t need to remind you to always check the HIPAA status of your VoIP or UC provider!)
To ensure that vital calls get through even when the front desk isn’t being manned, you can use features like call rollover, which automatically forwards the call to phones that might be open.
These are just some of the many options that integrated VoIP telephony offers to healthcare organizations.
What about wireless options?
Wireless VoIP handsets and phones enable integrated VoIP telephony with the flexibility and convenience of a cordless phone.
Hospitals are dynamic spaces. Doctors and nurses are constantly on the move.
You can set up wireless VoIP handsets to possess all the features of a VoIP deskphone. Or you could set up cordless handsets to communicate with the IP phone system.
Unified communications (UC) takes integration even further.
Each employee can have their contact information associated with them in the system, making it simple to reach them no matter where they are.
Presence control means you only reach them when they’re available.
Video conferencing is increasingly being used in healthcare administration to connect with organizations, ask for expert advice, and offer webinars.
With UC, the staff can much more easily share their expertise with doctors at other locations by using video conferencing.
Many UC platforms also offer secure chat platforms that can provide a simpler communications system, especially for younger employees.
What about electronic health records (EHR)?
All the regulations and best-practices concerning electronic health records (EHR) are still being worked out as they concern UC.
We don’t want to give any false or misleading advice about EHR and UC.
What is clear, though, is that EHR is the future. And that EHR demands integrated computer networks.
So building out a secure, fast computer network to handle UC will help with your organization’s transition to EHR.
Telemedicine refers specifically to the use by doctors of video conferencing to meet with their patients.
What are the advantages of telemedicine?
Telemedicine offers three major advantages: efficiency, scheduling, and reach.
Because travel time is eliminated, doctors are able to schedule their time much more efficiently.
Increased efficiency can mean a doctor being able to care for more patients, improving more lives and reducing the load on the hospital.
It also means that home healthcare like following up on patients or checking in on rehabilitative efforts becomes that much easier.
Beyond the efficiency gains from eliminating travel time, it’s easier to schedule telemedicine meetings.
For instance, if an elderly patient in hospice care needs extra attention, but time constraints or the limitations of geography prevent the doctor from being able to provide consistent attention, telemedicine can provide the answer.
The final advantage of telemedicine is reach.
Particularly in rural areas, having enough doctors for a given area can be extremely difficult.
However, telemedicine allows local care centers to have endpoints, which doctors can conference with patients through, or give advice to care workers.
The number of situations that VoIP and UC has the potential to improve communications in the healthcare industry are many.