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Video Communication Applications in Healthcare

Just as architecture has the power to transform a skyline, create new vistas and reshape the horizon -- so technology has the power to redefine healthcare, that's the theme of this year's HIMSS09 conference and exhibition in Chicago, Illinois this week.

Cisco video technology was featured in the AT&T Telepresence Solution booth on the exhibition floor. Visitors to the live video demo described their perspective on potential new applications, and Wendy Bohling, Senior VP at Magpie Healthcare had a more profound point of view. She said, regarding the business impact, "Telepresence changes and differentiates a hospital."

Quest to Improve the Patient Experience
Enhancing communication capabilities in healthcare can be equated to the potential for productivity and cost-reduction benefits, which are clearly valued. However, perhaps the emerging opportunities will now also focus on patient safety and the overall patient experience.

A recent study, conducted by Zogby International, sheds new light on the heavy toll that communication lapses take on patient care, clinical efficiency and the overall ability of nurses to do their job. More than 250 practicing nurses were surveyed. They included those in medical-surgical, emergency room, operating room, and critical care or intensive care unit service.

The Key Survey Findings Include:

Improving "people-to-people connections" offers the greatest potential for progress. The primary issue centered on the opportunity to improve communications among care team members. The time that nurses spend chasing other people to get answers was twice as great as the time they spend locating other resources.
  • When asked how many minutes per shift are typically spent "chasing other people to get answers," up to 86 percent of respondents estimated wasting as much as two hours per shift.
  • When asked about information needed to improve communication, 48 percent of nurses surveyed said, "care team availability and location" is most needed from a communications device at the point of care.
  • In an open-ended question about the most significant challenge that a nurse's communications device could address, 56 percent of nurses said, "better communication between staff."
  • About 60 percent of nurses in the study estimate they work up to 10 hours of overtime each week due to time wasted or lost trying to communicate with other staff.
If the visitor comments at the AT&T Telepresence demonstrations are an indication of an emerging trend, then the opportunities for hospital administrators, and other healthcare industry leaders, to apply the latest managed or hosted service offerings certainly looks very promising. Clearly, IT transformation is a rising priority.

View the Day Two video of additional demo visitor commentary.
More demo visitor perspectives on the Day Three video coverage.