The Fragmented Healthcare Industry Can Gain Efficiency with Unified Communications
Everyone who has ever been a patient in the healthcare industry knows that administrative excellence isn’t exactly a hallmark of healthcare. From lost paper records to incorrect bills to missing insurance payments, the medical industry is a mess. Add in the mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or “Obamacare”) which dictate that healthcare providers must begin transitioning to digital patient records, and the headache gets even bigger.
According to a recent blog post by ISI (News - Alert) Telemanagement Solution Inc.’s Darlene Jackson, the more technology the healthcare system adopts, and the more partnerships formed, the less efficient it becomes.
“A major problem with the healthcare system today is fragmentation,” she wrote. “From a lack of integration among systems to well-intentioned initiatives that misalign with other purposeful measures, fragmentation is hurting healthcare. From the local to federal level, innovative programs are not scaled up or out successfully, and the industry misses out on what could bring value to the market.”
Communications are an area where the healthcare industry needs serious improvement. Today’s collaborative patient care scenarios are impossible when doctors, hospitals, clinics and insurance companies communicate in their own proprietary channels. According to Jackson, fragmentation in healthcare is one of its most urgent problems, but it’s one that unified communications (UC) can feature prominently in fixing.
“The talk today involves integrated delivery systems (IDSs), coordinated networks for collaboration between the healthcare entities internally and externally to the populations being served, and the promise they offer to reduce costs and improve healthcare,” she wrote. “This movement towards integration necessitates that UC be a swift and responsive partner to healthcare in this effort. UC has already done for the enterprise what healthcare sorely needs. If the past is prologue, the results should include increased employee productivity and cost savings, both of which will benefit the healthcare system enormously.”
Healthcare communications are particularly critical to manage properly not only for patient care and cost savings, but for regulatory purposes. HIPAA regulations mandate includes the maintenance of privacy and security of health records, and many older or proprietary communications systems don’t cut it.
“The platforms and applications developed in UC for compliance reporting and recording are an absolute must have for healthcare today,” wrote Jackson. “It is the responsibility of the industry to support the meaningful use mandate. While the marketplace may indeed be fragmented and have organizational challenges, UC should consider itself tasked with an important duty to use its technology to help healthcare create uniform standards for integration from the behemoth health systems down to individual providers.”
Unified communications solutions providers can help the industry solve a lot of its challenges. Only through coordinated efforts across many interrelated industries can fix the healthcare industry eliminate fragmentation and reduce – instead of add – the complexity that causes poor care, rising costs and a lack of collaboration.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi