An aging population, increased cost, geographic barriers and healthcare reforms are changing the way healthcare organizations and providers care for their patients. As fee for service models diminish and population health delivery systems grow, collaboration technology becomes a mission-critical enabler to meet this paradigm. 8 out of 10 top ranked hospitals in the world (US NEWS: Hospital Rankings 2013) leverage Polycom’s collaboration technology to enable Telemedicine, Medical Education, Care Coordination and Healthcare Administration.

This weekend healthcare professionals and leading telemedicine programs will meet to share best practices and discuss innovative business models in Baltimore. So, if you happen to be at ATA 2014, you are welcome to stop by the Polycom booth (#4412). Our team of Industry experts is here to assist you in your journey towards a more collaborative healthcare ecosystem. And for those, who could not make it or are attending the virtual edition of the event, let me share with you some technology and market insights so that you do not miss anything.


Choose the right partner for your video-enabled Telemedicine program

Healthcare providers often realize too late the pain, they have to endure and the price they have to pay after implementing a proprietary or siloed web, audio or video conferencing solution. While some pure cloud and software-based video solutions may seem attractive initially, just be aware of the catch. Try to stay away from dedicated and closed solutions which enable a single medical application and do not allow integration and communication with third party platforms, clients, devices or networks used  widely by healthcare institutions, universities, payers, patients and partners. That would be going against the progressive vision of building a more collaborative healthcare ecosystem.

A strong future in telemedicine requires healthcare providers to choose cost-effective collaboration solutions that offer scalability, reliability, flexibility, interoperability, simplicity, mobility and compliance. One of the largest Telemedicine programs in the world is the University of Texas Medical Branches Telehealth program which provides over 135,000 real time interactive Telemedicine consultations per year thanks to Polycom collaboration technology. Orlando health relies on Polycom high quality audio, video and content solutions to power their Telestroke program.

Of course, you do not need to be on the top ten list to reap the benefits of Polycom solutions. Hundreds of healthcare providers operating outside of the United States use Polycom’s award-winning audio, video and content solutions for multiple clinical and non-clinical applications. This is the case of Silver Chain in Western Australia or the International Virtual e-Hospital and many more. Here are some of the things, leading healthcare providers should take into consideration when evaluating a collaboration solution to support wellness and prevention, care coordination, telemedicine or hospital administration:

1. Scalability – Consider a platform that can support over 75,000 users on a single network and provide seamless connectivity regardless of device type, protocol, network type, or bandwidth. Ensure that the solution enables multiparty HD video, voice, and content collaboration while connecting the most people. Bandwidth compression and lost packet recovery technologies are essential to offer the highest quality at the lowest cost.

2. Flexibility – Opt for a hardware or software-based collaboration solutions or a mix of both (hybrid) depending on your existing infrastructure or care delivery model. Thanks to the advent of virtualization technology, collaboration platforms are now available as software running on X86 servers which offer additional flexibility for organizations wishing to deploy audio and video communications in a data center.

3. Interoperability – Select a solution built on open-standard communication technologies which can offer users the ultimate freedom to communicate with millions of users regardless of device, including mobile devices (iOS, Android), desktop computers (OSX, Windows), unified communication clients (Microsoft Lync, IBM Sametime...), business-to-customer and remote browser-based video (RealPresence CloudAXIS), and Telehealth specific systems. Avoid expensive proprietary gateways and siloed solutions at all cost.

4. Simplicity – Evaluate new comprehensive offers that combine the complete collaboration platform with software endpoints and optimized services all for a yearly subscription fee. You will enjoy the benefits of the collaboration platform combined with the benefits of consolidating video data centers into a virtualized video network.

5. Mobility – Adopt carts for mobile Telehealth applications. They can transform a roomful of technology into a simple, mobile workstation. Medical and non-medical peripheral devices easily connect to the mobile video conferencing system, enabling medical professionals to share, in real-time, high-definition images of a patient’s throat...ears...or skin. They can also be used for broadcasting medical procedures as a means of educating or Telementoring.

6. Quality - No one should underestimate the need for a high quality audio in healthcare. Not only the conversation between clinicians must be crystal clear but the sound of the patient’s heart and lungs when transmitted using an electronic stethoscope connected to the medical video cart must be of the highest fidelity. As Polycom co-founder Jeff Rodman explains in his recent blog post why your audio and video conferencing solution must have a BRAIN.

7. Compliance – Recording and streaming is essential, but what about indexing and tagging of video assets. Ask for a video content management solution that can handle all your exisitng and future video assets (Consultations, procedures, training, communication sessions, customer interactions…) at any stage of their life cycle  - from capture, to upload, to organization and administration, to delivery, to final expiration). You may go for the optional speech processing services (speech-to-text and deep media indexing) to increase the likelihood that video content will be discovered with simple keyword searches.

Polycom leads the way with Collaborative Healthcare

Through innovation and technology partnerships, Polycom is uniquely-positioned to springboard into the next generation of healthcare solutions, catered to the challenges and changes that healthcare organizations are putting into place. Along with its ecosystem of partners, Polycom provides solutions for the entire healthcare enterprise for all aspects of care which include wellness and prevention, care coordination, medical education, home health and telemedicine.

Feel free to contact me for more information. But if you are attending ATA 2014 in Baltimore, once again please visit the Polycom booth (# 4412). Look for me or for Ron Emerson who recently posted a blog titled “Nurses the unsung heroes of Telehealth”. We look forward to welcoming you and your team!


Follow me on Twitter: @MarcRemond

The on-demand webcast about Polycom's new breakthrough solutions is available for replay. Watch it now.

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