Technology really is at the heart of all our interactions in today’s world and is now making its mark on the healthcare industry, with cloud solutions set to revolutionise how healthcare professionals take care of their patients. In this article, we explore the evolution of the telehealth industry and the critical role of technology in healthcare and medicine in 2022.
What is telehealth?
So what is Telehealth? A new way to conduct consultations and provide medical services as a result of cloud technology, Telehealth - also referred to as telemedicine, mhealth or ehealth - is the use of digital information and telecommunication technologies to access healthcare services and manage healthcare operations. Telehealth allows patients to remotely access clinicians and services through their electronic handsets and devices, whether that be a laptop, mobile or tablet. So, no matter where patients or professionals are located, video consultations can take place through a secure, high quality video and audio connection.
Although healthcare was starting to move into the realms of telehealth, the recent global pandemic has certainly played a huge part in accelerating the roll-out as 2020 saw GPs and other healthcare specialists go online to continue providing a safe, consistent service. It may not ever replace face-to-face, surgery-based appointments, and nor should it, but it certainly looks set to stay as part of our evolving, blended healthcare provision in the UK.
How does telehealth improve patient care?
Let’s dive deeper into hosting a Telehealth system, how does telehealth improve patient care? Telehealth delivers a myriad of benefits, all of which can have a positive impact on patient care. These benefits include:
- Making healthcare accessible to all (including those in rural, isolated communities or with limited mobility)
- Improved communication and convenience/availability of appointments
- Faster care delivery
- Build better patient rapport
- Reduced risk of infection
- Lowers costs (travel)
- No need to take time off work or arrange childcare
- Virtual appointments with real-time feedback
- Improved chronic disease management and patient outcomes
The cloud; the route to Unified communications healthcare
The use of cloud computing provides an opportunity in the healthcare environment to improve services for patients, to easily share information, improve operational efficiency and streamline costs. It also makes record-sharing easier and - most importantly - safely protected by advanced layers of security.
But legacy telephony solutions could be holding some providers back from delivering the very best patient care, so investment into advanced, sophisticated, future-proofed solutions is key to keep up with exceedingly high patient expectations.
How is telehealth evolving with healthcare technology?
There are big ambitions for telehealth in the future, with some healthcare providers already using text messages and/or email to provide medication or vaccine reminders, log blood pressure results and to deliver lab test or x-ray results, etc. The technology is also being used for patients to upload food logs and blood sugar levels for diabetes, for example, and for delivering food or physio advice via a pre-recorded educational video. Ultimately healthcare should become more flexible and immediate, with all records being visible and accessible as and when required.
Is your organisation fighting fit?
So, what do you need to make sure your telecommunications solutions are up to the challenge of ensuring a healthy future of communication and connection?
- Cloud healthcare telephony solutions
- Cyber security and patient security
Most organisations are now embracing cloud telephony healthcare solutions, the inevitable upgrade to VoIP phone systems designed to promote smarter and faster working – from any location. And because everything is stored in the cloud, you gave the flexibility of scaling your operation up, or down, set-up quickly and easily and benefit from a whole host of call management features.
Industry-leading VoIP phone systems , such as Focus Horizon VoIP or the Microsoft Teams Phone System – are powerful communication tools operating in the cloud – and both are excellent options for the telehealth sector.
Building trust and maintaining rapport with patients’ needs to be the priority. As a result, features such as video conferencing are highly beneficial; reliable and robust, guaranteeing strong audio and visual quality connections for staff and patients - which is vital given to the sensitive nature of some appointment topics.
Focus Horizon also boasts call recording features, which allow healthcare providers to record call and re-listen if they need to hear details about prescriptions, for example, to ensure all information is correct. It can also help speed up staff response to patients with its call routing capabilities and its voicemail-to-email features.
Similarly, the Microsoft Teams Phone Systems is as impressive, promoting an ultra-responsive patient experience and total unified communications platform, taking collaboration to the next level. With this telehealth solution, organisations can easily sync calendars, use the chat function and share files quickly.
Both systems also fully support hybrid working, so if clinicians are operating from home a quality service and connection is maintained.
Cyber-attacks in healthcare surged last year and 2022 could prove even worse if healthcare organisations have not addressed systems and protocols to protect their systems. And with big – and highly sensitive - data at stake, there is no room for complacency. The potential disruption to healthcare services caused by an attack and potentially hours of downtime do not bear thinking about. Prioritising cyber security and having a solid IT infrastructure is essential for protecting sensitive and personal information.
Whatever the threat posed, business cyber security solutions can be implemented and fully managed to keep you connected and working in a secure working environment wherever your employees may be located. These services include:
- Cyber security awareness & training – learn where your vulnerabilities lie and educate your employees on how to stay safe in the digital world with cyber security awareness training and testing
- Security operation centre (managed SOC or SOC as a service) – the cyber threat doesn’t clock off at 5pm; it’s a global threat and one which can strike at any time. A managed SOC will protect your organisation 24/7
- Mimecast email security – emails are the easiest way to attack an organisation. Mimecast email security is a world-class email protection solution, offering the highest level of email and spam security.
- Dark web monitoring – are you exposed to the darker side of the web? A dark web monitoring service will review and track your exposure on the dark web and improve your cyber security.
- GDPR awareness training – stay compliant, keep up-to-date with data legislation and protect the sensitive data you hold for your patients.
Healthcare technology IT support and services
Managing your business IT support and services is challenging and can be time consuming, but it’s vital to ensure your IT infrastructure is fighting fit. Focus Group’s healthcare IT support services will ensure your platforms are running smoothly, 24/7. From small private practices to complex NHS trusts, our outsourced IT support teams will work tirelessly to keep your infrastructure optimised at a cost to suit your budget. If an issue arises, you can be sure our IT service management teams and helpdesk will work around the clock to resolve it, while keeping you secure and online
Essential healthcare technology for better care
With healthcare technology set to evolve more dramatically than ever in 2022, it’s time to make sure your organisation has the telehealth tools and cloud technology to support the future of better, more connected patient care.
Sonia Older is the Campaign Manager at Focus Group and a highly experienced copywriter. She boasts over 20 years of experience in content marketing and PR across multiple industries, and is the key driver of content and PR for Focus Group across all UK offices. Away from work, Sonia usually swaps keyboard strokes for ski slopes in the Alps with her family.