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How Cloud-Based Solutions Improve Healthcare Communications

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Very often in the healthcare industry, effective communication is literally a life-or-death issue. Most patient encounters require collaboration among a multidisciplinary group of doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, case managers and administrative staff. However, communication frequently breaks down due to the fragmented state of healthcare communication technology.

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations today remain heavily reliant on a wide range of old and new communication technologies, including landline phones, fax machines, smartphones, Wi-Fi phones, smartwatches, voice badges and tablets. Healthcare is one of the few industries that still makes extensive use of pagers — nearly 80 percent of hospitals still use the devices, according to a study from the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Industry research shows that this fragmentationcomes at a steep price, contributing to chronic delays, increased operational costs, staff burnout, preventable errors and even death. A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research estimates that communication breakdowns are a factor in 70 percent of medical error deaths. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that communication inefficiencies by U.S. hospitals waste more than $12 billion annually.

Aggregating Access

Most people assume the simple solution would be to just standardize on mobile phones — after all, who needs a pager if you have a phone in your pocket? However, hospitals are notorious dead zones for cell service due to their unique construction requirements. For example, thick, lead-lined walls designed to prevent X-ray penetration will interfere with cellular signals.

Cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions aren’t subject to those environmental obstacles, and they can eliminate much of this fragmentation by creating a single point of access for a variety of voice, video and text communications. Solutions such as MiCloud Connect, Mitel’s all-in-one cloud communications and collaboration platform, allow users to connect with colleagues across multiple communication channels using a single device.

With MiCloud Connect, users working at a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone can access a secure, personal dashboard via the web. Within this environment, they can see at a glance which colleagues are available at the moment and contact them by their preferred means of communication — phone calls, text, social or video chat. They can securely discuss cases, share files or access patient records.

Private, Secure and Scalable

Given the sensitive nature of the information being exchanged, data privacy and security are essential requirements for any healthcare communications platform. MiCloud Connect is certified as meeting Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for protecting the confidentiality of patient data. In accordance with industry guidance on HIPAA requirements Mitel also offers customers a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), a contract that outlines Mitel’s legal obligations for securely processing, storing, managing or otherwise dealing with protected health information.

The virtually unlimited scalability of cloud solutions also makes them highly desirable in healthcare settings. Cloud-based solutions let software-based resources take the place of traditional hardware, making it easy to scale resources up or down to meet short-term staffing fluctuations or longer-term health system expansions.

Healthcare providers need to communicate and collaborate to improve patient outcomes, but the fragmented nature of conventional communication solutions is increasingly ineffective. Cloud-based UC solutions help support a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare by streamlining communication between physicians, nurses and other clinical and nonclinical staff. Give us a call to learn more about using Mitel’s MiCloud Connect to create a cohesive communication environment that can increase efficiency and improve patient care.

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