COVID-19 has put healthcare organizations in a crisis all their own. As the pandemic drags on and digital interactions become the norm, strained healthcare systems are expected to keep educating communities and protecting patients and staff amidst constantly changing health policies and work procedures. Catapulted into digital transformation, IT leaders in the healthcare industry have no choice but to navigate the challenges of remote care to continue supporting their organization’s life-saving work:
- Telemedicine: Close to half of doctors are now using telemedicine to treat patients as the pandemic changes how physicians deliver care – an increase from 18% two years ago, according to The Physicians Foundation. Now more than ever, medical professionals need to be able to assess and treat patients regardless of location or circumstance.
- Contact Tracing: Preliminary COVID-19 contact tracing data, shared by some states, is already improving community outreach and patient care approaches. As a result, healthcare systems and public health departments are rushing to implement more Contact Tracing and Case Investigation systems, which require reliable cloud application performance and real-time analytics.
- IoMT: Meanwhile, the increased use of health sensors and IoMT is expanding the real-time collection of critical healthcare data and facilitating proactive, remote delivery of service.
- Information Ecosystems: Healthcare providers – especially large hospital systems – need to be able to seamlessly coordinate and share information across the entire health ecosystem while addressing information security concerns and abiding by HIPAA regulations. And that ecosystem looks very different than it did just one year ago, due to the changes in remote information access.
As the number of cases and casualties continues to climb, it’s crucial that healthcare organizations work smart to improve patient and employee safety, value, and overall quality of care – all while maintaining cost efficiency, data security, and patient privacy.
Supporting healthcare in dynamic new ways
The way patients access care and how and where organizations deliver that care have fundamentally shifted in 2020 and will continue to change in the years ahead. Unified Communications – specifically, cloud-based UC – is at the heart of this change. New research shows that Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) is experiencing its fastest growth ever in the midst of COVID-19, with healthcare and medical companies reporting the highest growth rates.
UCaaS enables healthcare organizations to deliver superior care by reliably connecting every element in their healthcare ecosystems, no matter where patients or practitioners are located:
- UCaaS-Powered Telemedicine: Health providers are creating virtual patient rooms where care team members and family can join to meet and share/view important information like patient charts, medication details, care plan instructions and more.
- UCaaS Enhances Tracing and Care Coordination: Real-time communications can be embedded into
- Contact Tracing and Case Investigation applications to communicate case information quickly and efficiently
- Existing healthcare applications for better care team coordination, leveraging on-call schedules, staff assignments, escalation processes, and the communication preferences of workers
- Online patient portals for patients to more flexibly engage with health providers – anywhere, anytime, over any device
- Healthcare organizations are also using UCaaS as part of their remote contact center agent strategy to maintain high responsiveness and quality of service while moving staff to a work-from-home environment for safe social distancing
Superior healthcare outcomes start with a superior network
Looking at the changes happening in healthcare and how organizations are reshaping themselves, it’s clear that UCaaS is crucial for the future of patient care. But UCaaS alone isn’t enough. Just as important is a security-first network – specifically, a Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN strengthens UCaaS application performance and delivers agility, flexibility, security, and AI-powered automation to create the kind of patient, employee, and business outcomes needed in today’s new norm. It’s for this reason 93% of companies are bundling UCaaS with network security services. Doing so supports cloud healthcare communications with high performance, global availability, and the simplicity of built-in security features in one cloud service with one management portal for both UC and the network. This reduces the complexity of healthcare digital transformation by addressing UC, the network, and security in one unified strategy.
The benefits of bundling UCaaS and secure SD-WAN for healthcare are huge:
- Enables clinicians and patients to connect and share data securely while getting superior cloud application resilience and deep network visibility
- Prioritizes healthcare application performance and dynamically manages bandwidth allocation to meet changing needs across the network – all from one simple user portal available anywhere, anytime, on any device
- Leverages your existing network infrastructure and extends connectivity for cloud apps, locations, and remote users
- Supports secure, high-quality video conferencing as virtual doctor visits skyrocket with UCaaS embedded into an SD-WAN-powered network
- Leverages AIOps (AI and analytics) to evaluate network activity, helping IT teams act in response to changes in behavior, context, and load
- Addresses critical information security concerns – from patient records to IoT data – and industry regulations with built-in firewalls, cloud security technologies, and options for 24/7 threat monitoring and response services
Masergy has been working alongside many healthcare providers to navigate this new normal and ensure the continuity of secure healthcare services in 2020. Most recently, we helped a non-profit, rural area healthcare provider treat more patients with higher network reliability and 5x more bandwidth – all while reducing outages and cutting IT costs. Before the pandemic, telemedicine supported an estimated 10-20% of the provider’s doctor visits. Now, the healthcare provider is steady at approximately 50%. During the spikes in telemedicine usage, their IT director described Masergy’s SD-WAN and network service as key, saying “it never even hiccupped.”
Connect your healthcare ecosystem and deliver a superior quality of care
There’s a reason over 60% of companies who are satisfied with their UCaaS deployments are also using SD-WAN. Purchasing UCaaS and SD-WAN from the right managed network services provider gives essential workers the equally essential tools and the reliable support they need to save lives.
From us at Masergy, we sincerely thank every healthcare worker for all they have done and continue to do.
Learn more about Masergy UCaaS with SD-WAN.
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