Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Fully Engaging Patients with Doctors, Nurses, and Facilities to Enable Better Healthcare

November 21, 2014

Thanks to innovations and the availability of advanced unified communications (UC) and the adoption of omni-channel capabilities in contact centers, the ability for healthcare providers to provide greatly enhanced customer experiences to improve patient health and provider services is transforming the healthcare sector in dramatic fashion. In fact, communications software and services company Unify, is indicative of this trend with its "Connected Patients" initiative.

For those unfamiliar, the Connected Patients initiative entails enabling healthcare providers and facilities to leverage technology to deliver an enhanced patient experience that includes:

  • High-quality patient care
  • Team awareness
  • Reduced liability
  • Lower costs for hospital administrations.

As Unify describe it, the Connected Patients concept involves modifying Unify's UC solutions specifically for healthcare settings to deliver a user experience that includes voice, audio and video conferencing, online collaboration, messaging, and contact center functionality in one solution.

The specific technology is Unify's OpenScape portfolio. It allows patients to more actively engaged in their care and follow up.  Unify says, “OpenScape facilitates more personalized care based upon customer service principles rather than administrative processes. Providers benefit from optimized and simpler collaboration, as well as more qualitative documentation.”

How it works

The OpenScape solutions in essence turns what have become ubiquitous bedside terminals into a point-of-care workflow stations.These integrates the power of UC for the patient and the caregiver with Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Electronic Meal Ordering (EMO), and patient education, and infotainment. And, since real-time information is key to creating better outcomes, the solution also has alarm and alert capabilities that enable responses to an array of automated and manual inputs to notify healthcare staff of schedule interruptions, disasters, major incidents, security notifications, and more. Plus, the  alarm response system works in conjunction with high-volume dispatch systems to instantly pull together large and diverse on-and-off-network teams, including administrators, clinicians, first responders, and government officials.

"Unify's OpenScape Xpert platform provided Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support's (KIDS) clinical staff with more flexibility in its communications, such as the ability to transfer between calls, to leave and rejoin and allow the KIDS operator to create and deconstruct conferences while still holding individual personnel on the console," said Phil Wilson, KIDS Lead Nurse at Birmingham Children's Hospital.  "With this technology, expert medical staff and other key personnel can maneuver in and out of calls, so that more than one case and complex discussions can take place simultaneously. The touchscreen console is easy to use and the call handling environment is clearly visualized, facilitating conference call management so patient care remains the utmost priority." 

"Unify offers a New Way to Work for doctors, nurses, technicians, and other caregivers, so they can have more face-time with patients, with fewer obstacles," said Bill Hurley, Chief Marketing Officer of Unify. "Optimized communication technology such as video-enabled web collaboration and conferencing helps team members collaborate quickly. It makes it easy for them to jointly update plan-of-care documents, or dynamically whiteboard complex thoughts. Team members can connect in real-time no matter their location or device." 

In revealing the traction UC solutions are having in the market Unify provided a summary of how the healthcare providers and hospital administrators are participating in the Connected Patients initiative with links to the case studies. It demonstrates the scope of scenarios that can be addressed and includes:  

  • ARCUS Clinics Pforzheim are specialists in the treatment of joint diseases and sports injuries who provided greater comfort to patients by deploying an information and entertainment solution from Unify.
  • Improved patient service was the main objective in the AZ Damiaan hospital's decision to switch both its outpatient clinic appointment booking service and the Operational Management ICT helpdesk to the Unify OpenScape Contact Center solution.
  • OpenScape Voice and UC installed at Bethesda Spital Basel, a member of the Swiss Leading Hospitals, is the foundation of all communications and patient entertainment.
  • Birmingham Children's Hospital is home to the largest single Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the UK and cares for over 1,000 critically ill babies, children and young people every year. The city-center specialist hospital deployed Unify's OpenScape Xpert to streamline clinical decision processes. The team at Birmingham Children's hospital was recognized at the Building Better Healthcare Awards in London.
  • After 50 years of history and success, Dr. Christovao da Gama Maternity Hospital's growth had meant poor telephony systems where outages and poor connections were becoming standard, and "no phone service available" was very common on rainy days. A comprehensive UC solution and total infrastructure refresh from Unify brought reduced costs and expanded mobility capabilities.
  • OpenScape 4000 with integrated contact center and OpenScape Alarm Response (OScAR) proved to be the ideal system for the Openbaar Psychiatrisch Zorgcentrum Geel to ensure the best possible care for its psychiatric patients.
  • Thanks to Unify's OpenScape Contact Center solution, University Hospital Liege (CHU de Liege) has reduced wait times for 80 percent of patient booking calls to less than 30 seconds.
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust boosts positive patient outcomes and drives collaboration between staff members through the implementation of the Unify OpenScape platform. By 2015, Unify OpenScape will deliver voice, unified communications and wireless mobility products as well as 6,300 extensions for IP-based SIP telephones for clinical and administrative staff across the Hospital.

For anyone who has been in a hospital recently, you know that responsiveness from check-in to admission to bedside care to check out can be to be polite a time-consuming nightmare. A significant part of this less then wonderful experience can be traced directly to legacy and fragmented IT capabilities that are not up to the task of satisfying either patient needs or healthcare providers’ desires to provide timely and cost-efficient care. And, while hospital administrations are caught between fiscal austerity, skilled caregiver shortages, an increasing patient population, and challenges with their existing communications and computing infrastructures, as Unify exemplifies proper deployment of UC which enhanced contact center engagement can simultaneously reduce cost and improve care. Not a bad combination to say the least. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi