The four Cs of video conferencing in healthcare

By Molly Merrill
03:30 PM

Unified communications (UC), which has become a hot issue among IT leaders and administrators, has recently been bolstered by video – and the "prognosis for its use in healthcare appears to hold promise," says one expert.

With developments making it easier to integrate and manage video, new implementations have produced strong results including more impactful, cost-effective communications highlighted by an ability to unify thousands of staff and visitors simultaneously with critical messaging, on and off premises, says Tom Racca, president and CEO of BurstPoint Networks, developers of an enterprise-class, end-to-end platform used for creating, managing and distributing video content. Furthermore, he adds, some organizations are finding video a way to enhance their reputations as leaders within their communities and even worldwide. 

"Healthcare has always been a progressive field and those involved – from researchers to physicians to IT leaders – are driven to find better, more efficient methods," he says. "There have been great advancements in technology and some in IT have realized the new potential of video. Concerns over bandwidth consumption have been answered, and today, a single person with a laptop can create, manage and deliver video content with a 'reach' and capabilities that are actually shaping the delivery and progress of healthcare itself."

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According to Racca, there are a few particular areas where healthcare providers are using video to support and further functions in new ways, which he refers to as the 4 Cs. These include:

  1. Care of patients. Medical information and videos of procedures are now being viewed remotely and in advance by patients. Additionally, patients are being surveyed prior to hospital stays, allowing in-room video to deliver personalized information during visits. Both are proving to be successful in reducing patient anxiety levels.
  2. Compliance and training. By live streaming training, and making videos available on-demand, healthcare organizations are not only enhancing education, they are tracking which personnel watched what video and for how long. This is making it easier than ever to demonstrate and meet HIPAA compliance.
  3. Collaboration. At teaching hospitals, researchers are using video to detail results and complete peer reviews, while inviting others worldwide to collaborate and advance efforts. The same is being done with difficult medical procedures and diagnosis, with healthcare practitioners soliciting/sharing advice from even the most remote locations.
  4. Communications command and control. A proper UC strategy allows for the easy capture and distribution of video messages that can be pushed-out to staff and patients, unifying a healthcare campus and remote locations. Key to this is the use of digital signage, proving particularly effective in delivering on-site information to patients and visitors, emergency broadcasts, promotion of services and programs, and more.

While some healthcare organizations are paving the way for new video uses, it is widely believed the technology will see strong growth and adoption in the years ahead, says Racca. Industry analysts at Ovum recently projected global business spending on video conferencing and telepresence technology will increase sharply from 2011 to 2016 at growth rates of 5.7 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively. This can be attributed partially to resulting increases in productivity and lower overhead offered by solutions, as well as reductions in technology pricing.

"The bottom line is, we are in a new era of communications, brought about by video," said Racca. "Early adopters in the healthcare space are trailblazers, creatively implementing video in ways that not only impact doctors and administrators, but are providing better patient care and service."