I know that one of my UC Strategies colleagues, Don Van Doren, attended the 2011 HIMSS Conference in Atlanta and should be able to report more details in how UC is making progress with health care applications. However, I was very impressed to see Avaya jumping in with both feet to exploit mobile devices for both hospital staff as well as mobile patient contacts to fully exploit UC for operational efficiency and effectiveness. (Never mind reduced telephony costs because of IP Telephony and SIP trunking!)
I have always seen mobility as the real driver for end user interest and benefits from UC and Avaya has finally connected some of the dots between the hospital environment, health care information systems, and patients who are not in a hospital environment but are key participants in operational performance issues. Given that the health care topic is at the top of this country’s financial concerns, anything that will help improve the performance of health care activities will get attention from everybody!
So, the headlines that got my attention are some of Avaya’s new solutions announced at HIMSS this past week. What’s important is that this is not just a start-up company with a bright idea, but an experienced technology provider with an established market share that is finally delivering something significantly better to the marketplace. (So, expect others to follow suit accordingly!)
- Mobile Device Checkout – Basically, this new function supports “dual personna” mobility on premise by letting hospital staff use their own, personalized mobile devices to be be automatically accessible through the hospital’s phone system and WLAN, by generating a temporary unique phone number. It allows for role-based-contacts, rather than having to know specific individual names and numbers, and it ties into a presence-based system for locating personnel. Yeah!
- Nurse Call Response – This solution replaces the need for a patient to contact a nurse’s station in order to talk to the nurse responsible for their care, but will initiate the contact directly with the appropriate nurse either available or assigned such responsibility. This reduces the wasted time delay and frustrations for a patient who needs immediate attention. (The announcement did not mention any options for such call contacts to exploit the benefits of UC with visual, contextual information on a smart-phone device.)
- Patient Admit Coordinator – This “workflow” solution targets patients coming to an Emergency Room for treatment to be admitted to a hospital bed. Currently, such procedures are paper-based, slow, inefficient, and costly. (I know from recent personal experience!)
- Patient Appointment Reminder – This is not really anything new, but is a basic application that can capitalize on the multi-modality of UC for personalized outbound notifications. It is particularly useful for health care and especially for senior citizens whose memory starts to suffer with age. It is also useful for other types of reminders, such as time to take a particular medication, or if an automated patient monitoring application detects a new problem, the need to see a particular doctor or take a particular medication suddenly becomes critical.
The above applications are tied to mobility of the individual end user, either as a contact initiator or a contact recipient, which in turn is tied to UC for flexible communications. I am sure there are other apps/solution examples in the health care environment, and some of these will also apply to other business activities, e.g., appointment reminders, CEBP applications, etc. So, I am glad to see some of the fundamental visions of UC that I and my colleagues have been pushing for several years starting to be realized in the real world.