3 Ways to Lower Costs in Healthcare with Unified Communications

Escalating costs in healthcare has been a constant headline topic for years. So much so that worldwide famous economists, Robert S. Kaplan and Michael Porter both tackled the healthcare cost problem by suggesting the activity-based costing method. The main pillar of this method is streamlining operations. Studies show that doctors spend 25% of their time in direct patient contact while another 24% is spent communicating with fellow colleagues. 24%! This is a huge percentage that no doubt could be lowered by employing smarter communication tools.

As such, healthcare providers, both large and small must constantly look to take advantage of new communication infrastructure enhancements. And many of them, if they haven’t already deployed them, are looking towards Unified Communications solutions.

Eva Blue - Peaceful Hearts Doctor, San Francisco
© Eva Blue – Peaceful Hearts Doctor, San Francisco

In fact, research from IBM about Unified Communications in healthcare concludes that nurses are able to reduce the time they spend looking for co-workers by 45% and reduce their response time to phone calls by 61%. Altogether, in a day, they gain two additional hours that they can reinvest in attending to their patients.

Small healthcare providers in particular have their work cut out for them when it comes to streamlining operations. Generally speaking, fewer employees means that more is expected of each. Access to Unified Communications tools helps employees boost their productivity without having to extend their day. Below are the three most common productivity improvements that Unified Communications tools can bring.

More Efficient Operations

Imagine a small healthcare facility that has eight examination rooms sprawled out across the floor of a building. It is staffed by two doctors and six nurses, as well as a team of medical assistants. One of these medical assistants is performing a check on a patient located in an examination room on the far side of the building. The patient asks her a question that must be addressed by one of the nurses or doctors.

Rather than leaving the examination room and running the corridors to track down one of them or calling them on the phone without anybody picking up, the medical assistant can leverage UC tools, checking the presence status of each professional. After figuring out who is available, she can then shoot that person the question quickly via instant message and receive a response in real-time.

Now, imagine all employees in similar scenarios throughout the day and it will become even more clear that UC tools can significantly bolster organizational efficiency.

More Availability

Nurses spend a lot of their day on the phone or at their computers, dealing with messages from doctors, patients and pharmacies; calling patients to relay the results of blood work, for example; and calling in prescriptions. The time they spend talking on the phone at the nursing station is time they’re not spending with patients.

Once Unified Communications tools are deployed across a healthcare facility, nurses are no longer tied to the nursing station to pick up phone calls. Messages and calls can be redirected to a mobile device, allowing them to respond to them when they get a minute. Nurses are then able to prioritize their tasks on the go and, as a result, they become more responsive to their patients.

Better Customer Care

Unified Communications tools can also be employed for better managing customer experience, especially if they are integrated with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Imagine a customer that calls to make a routine dental check-up appointment and the assistant can instantly see on the screen all the patient’s history. Thus she can recommend additional check-ups that are relevant to the case. She can also see when the patient’s partner had their last check-up and recommend an appointment for them as well. This translates not only into better service but in additional revenue as well.

Patients want quicker, more efficient treatment, and the reason most nurses go into the field of healthcare is to help restore well-being to those who are sick. Deploying Unified Communications tools should invariably improve both patient and employee happiness. They help employees stay connected and access critical communication no matter where they happen to be. The technology helps increase efficiency by saving time and by improving customer experience, and as a result, reduces costs. And this is of utmost importance in an industry blamed for escalating costs years in a row.

Healthcare vertical may have not been a frequent target for Unified Communications so far, but lately, more and more service providers are looking at ways they can improve the efficiency of their healthcare customers with an affordable solution.

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