It’s beyond dispute that the playing field of the healthcare industry has changed significantly due to laws such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). With rising costs and a shortage of skilled workers this $2.6 trillion-dollar industry has no shortage of challenges. Despite all of this, they still must provide the best patient care possible.
This massive ecosystem of hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers has been forced to change how business is conducted, adopt a pay-for-performance care mindset, maintain a compliant organization and reduce overhead costs.
So what strategies and tactics can be implemented to help ease the above challenges? Here’s the answer…A modern telecom infrastructure that boasts reliability, scalability, dependable access to data coupled with an IT platform. All of this allows healthcare providers to deliver better patient-care while ensuring regulatory compliance and keeping costs down.
There is no doubt that recent government regulations have changed the old way of doing things. Gone are the days of filling hospital beds or feeding into the pay-for-service mindset. Instead, healthcare providers must focus on patient care and outcomes. A key piece in shifting the patient-care model and supporting advancing medical technologies is the right telecommunication solution.
Imagine for a moment that you are rushed to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital you are admitted to cannot offer you the proper care. But luckily, the ER has videoconferencing equipment connecting it to doctors based in larger hospitals in other cities. These doctors can not only upload your medical records but can also provide the proper treatment – all from a distance. Courtesy of the right telecommunication solution.
The industry has to be on alert 24/7/365, and your infrastructure should be too. With the emergence of telemedicine, providers can reach remote patients who live in rural areas or who are homebound and provide expanded access to primary care, specialists, education, research resources and technology. Through better quality communications, providers can increase their quality of care to patients no matter what time of day and/or distance.
Like it or not, government regulations also demand that healthcare professionals enable their organization to operate under compliance set forth by PPACA and HIPAA. Implementing secure networks is critical in today’s healthcare environment and determines how patient information is managed and shared. Administrative staff should have the ability to maximize the company’s infrastructure. Whether “maximizing” includes properly uploading and transferring electronic medical records (EMR) or simply viewing them, staff should conduct their day-to-day responsibilities with confidence and not under a cloud of uncertainty. Should an organization mismanage information or be vulnerable to being hacked, penalties under the current government policies can be hefty.
Hosted VoIP has become more mainstream and is considered to be the future of telecommunications; however, not all hosted VoIP companies are created equal. Some companies provide Quality of Service (Qos) and some do not.
What exactly is QoS? When bandwidth is low in comparison to the traffic it must handle, some applications need higher priority to avoid impacting their users. Think of VoIP as one of these such applications. If voice traffic on a network is not prioritized (the target of QoS), noticeable quality issues may occur. Data packets being delayed or dropped and re-sent may result in voice dropouts, static, and dropped calls, which can all impact business productivity.
QoS may also aid in HIPAA compliance. While medical facilities may spend money on protecting their network to protect patient information, Hosted VoIP without proper QoS leaves the network wide open and unprotected. A suitable telecommunication solution will ensure a compliant environment and help safeguard sensitive information.
Another major role that telecommunications can play is lowering operating costs. A bona-fide telecommunications vendor should be able to seamlessly implement a telecom solution that offers a variety of products and services tailored to the specific needs of each unique healthcare provider, as well as phase out antiquated equipment and duplicative services. With the right products and services your workforce will be more productive and streamlined, cutting costs exponentially.
The healthcare industry must effectively address a growing range of challenges, while focusing on the overriding goal of saving lives. Implementing a reliable telecommunications solution can give you the freedom to focus on what really matters.
For example, hosted VoIP is ideal for multi-location practices. While a multi-location practice may be open at one location one day and a second the next, they must pay for phone lines at both locations. Because hosted VoIP transmits voice over a broadband connection rather than a traditional public switched telephone network, phones at different locations can share a number and outgoing calls can be identified by each individual location. More flexibility, updated technology AND cost savings.
Within hours, an experienced telecom vendor can conduct an onsite analysis of your current infrastructure and identify its strengths and weaknesses. From there, you will have the ability to leverage your provider’s expertise and purchasing power to help raise the bar on healthcare technology standards, maintain a compliance and lower operating costs.
Scott Williams, vice president of sales for TrueChoice Telecom, has over 14 years of telecom experience. TrueChoice provides objective technology solutions to healthcare clients across North and South America. At TrueChoice, they’ve done the work for you by reviewing hundreds of providers to establish strategic alliances and partnerships with the best in the business.