Polycom has a long history of providing cutting-edge solutions to the healthcare industry. For over 20 years everything from audio through to telepresence solutions, has been helping to improve patient care. Now, every single clinic or hospital in the UK has some form of Polycom tool within it, whether in a clinical, surgical or administrative setting. The solutions available today have evolved considerably and are continuing to develop across a range of medical disciplines.
Unified communications has changed the way that the healthcare industry – and more and more the way that the public in general – approach health and wellness.
Physicians now have the ability to use any device to connect with other participants quickly and securely through an infrastructure that gives the physicians and patients confidence in who they’re talking to. Patient confidentiality is a key consideration when it comes to healthcare.
In addition to this, it provides physicians with a platform to communicate with other physicians and specialists based around the globe. Certain conditions require consultations with various different specialists based in hospitals, perhaps in different regions or even continents. Especially for the more frequent consultations, unified communications helps to ease the cost and time constraints of travel. UC provides a platform for these dispersed specialists to collaboratively look and talk through records and files together, without the need to travel to a central location.
However it’s not just valuable on an internal level. Unified communications also provides a platform for patients and for their families and carers to access treatment. Practitioner nurses and doctors are connecting with outpatients to give day-to-day calls to check on progress. This may be at the patient’s home or with patients in care homes.
Patients that require aftercare, such as physiotherapy for stroke survivors, can also do this from home. Using any device, the outpatient can connect into a physiotherapy session in a gym inside a hospital and take part in the class. This can have a real impact on recovery for the patient, overcoming the logistical and expense issues of transporting them to and from the clinic.
Another area where UC is having a big impact is in providing more effective ways for patients needing daily treatment or medication monitoring, where a nurse or physician is required to be present at certain times. Rather than going into the clinic, video conferencing allows the patient to do this from anywhere on any device; from a desktop to a mobile phone. This use of video access impacts both internally within the clinic, and externally. It prevents clinics from being overcrowded and allows the space to be used more effectively, while on the patient’s side, it saves them and their support network money, time and the stress of travelling.
The next big focus for Polycom will be working with its healthcare customers to increase patient responsibility. Providing digital access to healthcare means some patients will be able to manage their own conditions. The aim of this is to take a more preventative approach to health and wellness. This strategy means hospitals can start to make use of other technologies, like big data, to spot patterns and intervene early. This in turn could help citizens to avoid preventable illnesses.
The healthcare sector is really interested in making its own recordings that are available on demand, to help educate citizens. Polycom’s platform can record video meetings and collaborations in HD, and also allows individuals to make recordings when talking to a camera. The challenge is then sharing the materials through an appropriate platform, to educate citizens on management of issues such as weight, diabetes, or smoking cessation. This provides access to material through a secure portal so that the healthcare system can monitor and analyse who’s viewed what, while simultaneously providing citizens with the ability to take responsibility for their own wellness – helping to avoid both readmissions and health issues altogether.
The industry is one in continuous evolution. Health authorities and organisations can build on existing technologies to create medical specific applications, such as a “speak to the nurse” app or button on their website. Different authorities can build portals suited to their needs. Unified communications will continue to play a key role in the future of global healthcare.