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How UC Can Transform Hospital Patient Care

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ShoreTel Healthcare Unified Communications

Many healthcare providers have failed to keep up with modern technology when it comes to communications. Yet inefficient communications (such as the use of pagers) during critical clinical work can cost the average U.S. hospital $1.75 million per year, according to at least one estimate. That doesn’t even take into account possible medical complications from delayed communications, such as lab results that fail to reach ER physicians quickly.

The good news is that current Unified Communications (UC) technology makes it easier to upgrade communications in healthcare facilities to highly efficient systems that can help save money, reduce clinical errors and possibly save lives.

UC can also help hospitals eliminate vulnerabilities that facilities may be facing without knowing it. Ninety-six percent of physicians are already using their smartphones as “their primary communications device to support clinical communications,” according to a study by Spyglass Consulting Group. Many of them are unauthorized and do not have proper security, which can lead to HIPAA violations. That can result in lost or stolen data and government fines.

An integrated UC system means doctors, nurses, supervisors and others can reach each other with a phone call, an instant message, an audio or video chat, or an audio or video conference call. Individuals and teams can connect through smart phones, desktop or laptop computers, and tablet computers, all encrypted, secured and updated with security features that support HIPAA compliance needs.

Further, all this can be done with the smart phones and devices that staff members already own. The devices can connect to the UC system to tap these features – and make business calls – using the owners’ business numbers rather than their personal numbers, keeping business and personal use separate even while using one phone.

However, make sure your system has what you need. ShoreTel understands the needs of the healthcare industry, and offers either on-site systems, hosted systems that operate through the cloud, or a combination of both.

Here, for example, is a scenario that takes advantage of the ShoreTel Connect platform integrated with your facility’s PBX and in-house or privately-owned computers and mobile devices.

A team needs to be updated on a change in priorities for patient care. Avoiding outdated phone directories, missed phone calls, and the trouble of finding a meeting space is easy.

  1. A nurse manager sets up a conference call with just a few clicks on his office desktop computer.
  2. A case manager gets a pop-up notification on his desktop PC, and joins the conference with a single click.
  3. An off-site physician sees the meeting listed on the “today” feature of the Connect app loaded into her iPhone. She clicks on the ‘join’ button that turns green when the meeting is ready to start.
  4. A nurse director has her iOS tablet charging on a ShoreTel Dock, which also doubles as a desktop phone complete with dialing pad and handset. She clicks on the ‘join’ button uses the speaker phone option on the dock.

The healthcare profession is complicated enough. It’s easier than you think to simplify communications and ensure HIPAA compliance when exchanging information. And it might just save your facility $1.75 million every year.

For more information on ShoreTel’s offerings in healthcare, see our white paper, How Mobile Unified Communications Transform Clinical Workflows.