Guest Column | April 20, 2016

How Connected Healthcare Will Change Patient Engagement

Perry Price, president/CEO, Revation Systems

By Perry Price, President/CEO, Revation Systems

Over the past 20 years, technology has dramatically altered one key aspect of our lives: the way we communicate with one another.

It’s no secret innovations such as smartphones and tablets have enabled people around the world to communicate more frequently and personally than ever before. This evolution of communication has not only impacted our personal interactions, but many industries as well. While most businesses have experienced success in using technology to improve their relationships with customers, healthcare has continued to lag behind.

Healthcare And The Technology Upgrade Game

Though some modern technology has helped bring about improvements to healthcare as a whole, certain patient care issues persist as hospitals continue to experience a high rate of readmissions. The situation could be greatly improved through a better connected healthcare system with strengthened, more efficient communications. Using technology to connect providers with patients, as well as their information across facilities, can drastically improve patient engagement and eliminate one of the underlying causes of readmission.

Integrated communications is a term that refers to a technology-enabled system in which patients and providers can quickly and easily communicate with one another across various media types using secure, HIPAA-compliant channels. This type of system offers communication options people are widely familiar with, including email, SMS, web and video chat, VoIP, and file transfers. Having access to all these touchpoints enables healthcare providers to both communicate and engage with patients quickly and securely in the ways that are most convenient for the patient, thereby enhancing the overall quality of care.

Legacy architecture and the multi-vendor technologies already in place add to the current challenges to enabling this level of communication across network boundaries. As a result, there is a need to employ modern architecture to move healthcare into the next era of communications and care. Part of the delay involved with organizations adopting this type of solution, however, is the need for encryption — where data can be stored with individual private keys for providers.

Therefore, the modern solutions that will succeed in changing the future of patient engagement need to include strong access controls and a detailed audit trail for any type of admission. When integrated communications solutions have been established within the healthcare industry, patients will experience more effective and meaningful engagement with their providers.

Telehealth’s Direct Impact On Patient Engagement

Consider this scenario: a patient has been discharged from the hospital after undergoing an orthopedic surgery. A few days later, the patient develops a rash around the site of the incision. Instead of having to make an appointment to go back to the hospital to physically see the physician, this new level of communication technology would allow the patient to use a cellphone to take a picture of the rash and send the file securely over web chat to the provider for instant feedback.

As illustrated by this scenario, an added benefit of connected communications for patients — often referred to as telehealth solutions — is the ease with which they can discuss health goals and plans with their provider. With this type of system, patients can share files documenting their progress and consult with their provider on a regular basis to discuss their health goals and needs.

Ongoing access to multiple channels of communication makes interaction between patients and providers easy and secure, so patients can place a higher priority on pursuing their health goals. This ultimately results in a patient’s overall improvement in health and lowers hospitals’ overall readmission rates. Strengthened patient-provider engagement also encourages patients to seek help when it’s needed in the future, rather than delaying it, as they have built a meaningful relationship with their provider.

With numerous points of access in one system, providers are not only able to communicate more effectively with patients, but also with one another. The integration of communication helps healthcare providers offer better care to their patients while also improving internal coordination. This improvement in care, where all facilities have access to a patient’s data, also reduces readmission rates in hospitals as it leads to stricter adherence to medication and treatment plans and allows doctors to collaborate and form a more dynamic plan — as they have increased visibility into what others are recommending and implementing.

Overall, despite the surge of technology in the past decade, healthcare has not kept up. The need still exists for the deployment of new technological tools. Integrated communications is the solution at the forefront of the industry, ready to address these issues that continue to plague the system. As we look ahead, it is clear that increased patient engagement through the use of all-in-one communications is necessary to improve the future quality of care.

About The Author

Perry Price brings a successful sales track record with high-growth technology and Fortune 500 companies to his work with Revation Systems. In his role of President/CEO, Price builds and grows the customer base, recruits qualified talent, and streamlines internal operations. Price utilizes his deep domain expertise in IP networking and communication applications, including telephony, unified communications, call-center technologies and messaging. He and the Revation team are dedicated to providing a secure, easy-to-use communications solution to industries such as healthcare and financial services.