Using Unified Communications to Improve Patient Care

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For most healthcare systems, improving patient care is the key goal, and yet many miss the opportunity to apply Unified Communications (UC) solutions which they may already have in place to increase engagement on both the employee and client levels.

While compliance is a big reason many healthcare providers will engage UC solutions, there might be confusion as to how to fully leverage collaboration tools such as UC Recording to optimize the patient experience. For many providers, there are issues surrounding compliance that possibly prohibit actively engaging some UC applications such as Instant Messaging (IM) or video. There may be a fear among compliance officers that these tools enable privacy breaches, and they forbid their usage.

One of ISI’s clients is a Healthcare Provider that was able to fully benefit from the capabilities of their Contact Center Recording solution and gain full visibility into the patient life cycle from pre-registration through to release and follow-up care. Through Compliance Recording, Ethical Wall, and UCCX Reporting, they employed and used recorded interactions to report on and redesign their employee communications, improve customer service, and reduce re-admissions.

Our client is a health system comprised of urgent care clinics and numerous physician clinics with more than 300 physicians on staff providing specialty services and cater to children’s specialties as well. The extensive network deployed our recording solution with Verba and Ethical Wall to maintain HIPAA compliance and for typical usage such as for maintaining records in case of malpractice. The client also used Infortel® Select with Enhanced UCCX reporting to monitor Contact Center communication.

The health system had also invested heavily in a Instant Messaging system that would make it easy and safe (compliant) for staff to communicate internally as well as externally with patients. Unfortunately, the IM system became an encumbrance in that some of the end-users did not enjoy or engage with the technology. It became evident to administrators that they had made a costly mistake in choosing this communication tool.

During one of our consultations, ISI discovered that the health system was unaware of the interoperability of their existing recording solution (Verba) with Cisco’s Jabber. In the past, they had avoided Jabber because of a fear of being noncompliant. With an underused solution and employees possibly using their own personal messaging programs in non-compliant ways, they urgently needed to get the situation under control.

Our solution for this client was to install and deploy Verba Compliance Recording and Ethical Wall within their communication platform that included the Jabber communications system, which took just under a month's time. Jabber communications can be managed for compliance with Ethical Wall through IM content filtering, redaction and session blocking, i.e., stopping communication from occurring between various entities within an organization— users, groups, departments, locations, etc to deter from the unlawful sharing of ePHI.

The client is now implementing Jabber for caregivers with the confidence that sensitive patient information will be protected. This has improved speed-of-care/productivity through HIPAA compliant collaboration technology. Also, the client has seen improvements in patient satisfaction through optimal staffing of their contact centers and enhanced training through review of recorded calls.

By deploying UC in critical patient interactive spaces, the client was able to leverage their Compliance Recording, Ethical Wall, and UCCX Reporting solutions to find faster resolutions to problems, both critical and non-critical, spend more time on patient care, and see an improvement in their Contact Center for more overall customer satisfaction.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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