Bringing Unified Communication and Collaboration to Healthcare

Physician with female patient

By Fred Lizza

Technology has shown that it can make our lives better in so many ways, providing convenience and connection such as monitoring the baby-cam on a phone and videoconferencing with people halfway across the world. But what happens when nearly everything is privy to digital transformation? Cars, toys, the family pet – you name it, it has a microchip in it. 

From medical equipment to administrative services, everything is digital and typically running on an array of incompatible platforms and services. What was once touted as a technical marvel is becoming chaotic and difficult to manage.

Too many ways to send a message

The difficulties are especially obvious when it comes to communication amongst hospital staff. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, and administrators are communicating with one another in a variety of ways – through medical charts, patient records, online patient portals, phone calls, faxes, emails, texts, chat apps, voicemail messages, sticky notes, hospital intercom, and, yes, via pagers as well. 

Imagine working to give your patients the attention and care they need while also trying to navigate all of these disparate communication methods. Furthermore, many of these forms of communication are not secure enough to be used for sensitive medical information and can violate HIPAA regulations.

Communication breakdown

This has become the incredibly challenging reality for already-overworked healthcare professionals, and there are real consequences to this chaos. When information is being distributed through various channels, there is the chance that something important will get lost in the shuffle. 

Of course, hospitals have been making an effort to fix the problem. Many have adopted various costly systems that have promised to help staff communicate better. But some have been unwieldy, incompatible with each other, or so complicated for staff to use that everyone simply defaults to the methods they are most accustomed to. This aggravates the problem further by adding yet another only-partially-adopted form of communication to the list. 

Unified medical communication and collaboration

The best way to tackle this problem is via unified communication and collaboration, or UCC, which focuses on how we connect communication systems and collaboration tools for the digital workforce. Many other industries have been embracing UCC for years now. They are no longer treating communication as something to improvise as you go along, haphazardly implementing piecemeal solutions that inevitably fall by the wayside. Instead, communication and collaboration – and the tools that enable them – are understood to be foundational to a well-run organization.

It’s long past due for the widespread adoption of a medical UCC, where healthcare organizations prioritize and put specially dedicated professionals (e.g., Director of UCC) in charge of streamlining these platforms and ensuring that the systems in use work effectively. It is also vital to ensuring that all tools are HIPAA-compliant, including HIPAA-compliant texting and messaging

The advantages of Medical UCC

Having fewer and better systems in place will not only provide some relief to staff and better attention to patients, it can also help the hospital reduce overhead. It will certainly mean less money spent on monthly fees for systems and devices that gather dust and can also mean less money lost due to sloppy communication, such as an informal specialist consult that has not been properly tracked and billed.

A UCC specialist can also help a hospital or other medical institution find streamlined solutions that address ongoing communication problems. As noted earlier, most hospitals are still utilizing pagers, and the reason is because they are quite reliable (unlike cell phones, which can easily get mired in dead zones or lose battery). But it does add yet another device for doctors and staff to deal with, which is why a platform that is able to capture pager signals and send them to the user’s smartphone can make things a lot simpler. Medical UCC will be key in helping hospitals identify and deploy such helpful solutions.

Making technology work for your organization

Perhaps because communicating is such a natural part of life, we tend to take it for granted. But to run optimally, an organization needs to have a well thought out and unified strategy for communication. We have the technology to connect and transmit information in new and exciting ways that can make our lives and jobs easier – but only if we take the time and effort to intelligently harness the means to do so. The introduction of Medical UCC is a critical step for healthcare organizations to make that happen. 

About the Author 

Fred Lizza is CEO of Statum Systems, a startup developer of advanced mobile collaboration platforms that recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine. He was previously CEO of StrategicClaim, an insurance claims platform, and Freestyle Solutions, an e-commerce leader. Fred earned his MBA from Harvard University. Contact him at [email protected]. Linkedin profile.