The healthcare industry, like many industries, has dramatically increased its dependence on hosted unified communications over the past few years. Spurred by the global response to COVID-19, remote work and telemedicine has surged in utilization. Mordor Intelligence suggests that the UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) market will grow at a rate of 18.3% in the healthcare space up to the year of 2026, enabling the sector to streamline clinical and business operations and, as a result, provide a better quality of patient care. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the team at Evolve IP looks at how healthcare providers are leveraging UCaaS technology in 2022 and what this means for patients.
What is UC?
Hosted unified communications, also known as unified communications or UC, is everything that a modern business needs today to communicate and collaborate with their employees and customers. UC refers to a streamlined, often cloud-based, solution that brings video, chat, conferencing, file sharing, and more together in a single platform along with voice services.
How? By bringing the voice communications to the Internet via VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol. With VoIP, the human voice becomes a stream of data packets that can be transmitted via the Internet or over a private network.
Thus, UC takes all the tools the business uses on a given day and deploys them in a single service for easy user adoption. For example, employees can link their own cell phones (if you’re a BYOD (bring your own device) office) to work phones and transfer calls seamlessly, to wherever they are, via UC, which also includes IM (instant messaging). At the same time, employees can work out of a single, unified channel that collects email, fax, voicemail transcriptions, and more — all in one place.
UC integrates (or “unifies”) the phone system with multiple enterprise communication tools with the goal to improve end-user experience, increase productivity, and provide users with the flexibility to work from any location, on any device.
Unified communications can be deployed on-premises or in a private or public cloud. The rise in remote and hybrid working has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based solutions. Hosted unified communications, also known as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), frees businesses from the hassle of managing costly IT infrastructure and data centers, and enables staff to collaborate from anywhere in the world. With UCaaS, you partner with a vendor who can help tailor your UC solution to your needs, integrating the platform with your existing applications and unique networking solutions.
A UCaaS platform is a suite of tools that includes the following features:
- Instant Messaging and Presence (IM&P)
- File Transfer
- Text Messaging or SMS
- Audio and Video Calling
- Video Conferencing (with multiple participants)
- Call recording and transcription
- 2-Way Desktop Sharing
- Screen sharing
- Calendar and Scheduling
- Search across chats, files, and people
- Ability to integrate with devices such as phones, headsets, cameras, microphones, video conferencing solutions
- Ability to integrate with Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex
- Ability to integrate with CRM and Contact Center (CCaaS) solutions
- Seamlessly switch between desktop and mobile devices
The right UCaaS solution improves employee productivity and enables better communication and collaboration. Employees can connect with their co-workers any time to collaborate on a project and solve customer issues faster. UCaaS also improves employee engagement and customer satisfaction. The seamless integration between the telephony solution and other cloud solutions, such as CCaaS and Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex, enhances user experience and visibility. UCaaS technologies reduce travel costs, provide employees the flexibility to work from the office, home, or on the road and use the device of their choice, such as a desktop, mobile, or laptop computer.
For more information on the business benefits of UCaaS, read this next — Benefits of Unified Communications Technology.
UCaaS Through the Healthcare Lens
The hectic nature of the healthcare landscape makes it uniquely suited to reaping the rewards of implementing UCaaS solutions. Physicians no longer work at one hospital, nurses are constantly on the move, and the demand to be “always on” is at an all-time high. The technology that healthcare professionals rely on to quickly attend to a patient needs to be able to perform at the speed of care.
According to Mordor Intelligence’s Unified Communications as a Service in Healthcare report, healthcare players are quickly adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies: “Health organizations are positive about BYOD, since it facilitates improved workflow, cost savings, and better compliance with provisions of healthcare legislation, such as the US Affordable Care Act. Such BYOD trends call for a centralized collaborative platform that would streamline communications and enable the healthcare providers to access patient records when required.”
Teams that have adopted unified communications platforms early on understand its value, and run sleek, agile, efficient businesses. As Mordor Intelligence reports:
- With subscription-based UC services in place, healthcare contact centers can establish their PBX systems and take care of multiple customer requests coming in from multiple sites. Also, the increasing deployment of AI-powered tools have allowed organizations to intuitively record calls, facilitate effortless transcriptions, and intelligently track speakers to understand the needs of users and offer relevant services.
- With UCaaS solutions, like cloud-based telephony, messaging, and videoconferencing, caregivers can get access to essential data on a real-time basis. This allows for faster diagnosis, treatment, and care management.
- UCaaS, coupled with organizational mobility, provides numerous advantages, like real-time communications, to instantly locate and connect caregivers, support effective call routing and faster connections regardless of location, and enables the healthcare organization to establish rules and reduce interruptions and distractions from ER rooms to surgeries.
The result is good for business and great for patients:
- Improving patient experience: From doctors’ offices and hospitals to mobile clinics and telehealth, today’s healthcare environment provides patients with a plethora of choices in how and where they access practices. Unified communications allow healthcare providers to meet patients wherever they are. Additionally, unified communications give patients easy access to their personal health data. Patients are now able to log into patient portals and access a wealth of information about their health at their fingertips. Between text reminders, emails with links to secure data, and the ability to refill prescriptions online, pressure on care staff has reduced and patients feel more in control. Additionally, UC cuts down on unnecessary and redundant data entry. Currently, clinicians spend about 43 percent of their time doing data entry tasks, while only spending 28 percent of their time with patients.
- Improved data management: Communication is critical in the healthcare field and can often be a life-or-death matter. UC empowers care teams to respond quickly to crises and unpredictable client conditions. Healthcare professionals can monitor critical medical cases, respond to emergencies, provide training, or simply share ideas and best practices from nearly any location at any time.
- Reduced internal costs: Outdated communication technology costs hospitals more than $900,000 annually per hospital and added time to patient discharges as a result of outdated technology costs more than $550,000 annually per hospital. In total, it is estimated that obsolete devices and technological infrastructure costs hospitals in the United States over $8.3 billion per year. Smoother, faster, more integrated communications save time and money.
Ready to Learn More?
The acceleration in digital transformation and rise in virtual care has made it critical for healthcare organizations to find a partner that can stay ahead of the changing technology landscape, improve patient experiences, and optimize costs. Evolve IP’s Healthcare Solution Suite provides the industry’s most secure, powerful, and scalable communications, collaborations, and virtual desktop solutions that meets the needs of healthcare organizations.
To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation.