Industry News >Unified Communications >

Video Conferencing Expands Health Care Services

July 21, 2015 by

When you're hurt or sick, you rely on immediate access to health care. It may be easy to schedule a doctor's appointment or make a trip to the emergency department for medical attention. However, that open availability isn't available to everyone. People who live farther away from hospitals or those with chronic conditions may find it more difficult to talk to a health care provider in person. Luckily, unified communications provide doctors with the tools they need to help as many patients as possible.

UC Opens Up Access to Health Care

Rural communities or small towns may not have a localized medical system. Their citizens may have to travel to the next town over to see a standard primary care physician. It might be even further to an emergency department. This results in long travel times and higher costs, HealthIT.gov explained. With the limited access these localities may have, they require the right tools to get them the 24/7 access to health care they need.

This is where telehealth, also known as telemedicine, comes in. With an Internet connection, people can communicate with their own doctors or on-call physicians at any time of day from the comfort of their homes. They can use patient portals to send email or use instant messaging for business to contact their doctors. Patients also have the option to use video conferencing to have a more personalized, face-to-face visit.

Telehealth video consultations have gained a permanent place in health care and will become more widespread. According to a report from Tractica, these sessions are anticipated to significantly increase from 19.7 million in 2014 to 158.4 million by 2020.

"The flexibility and efficiency of video conferencing is helping health care providers and payers to achieve tangible value in deploying video-based patient monitoring solutions, both in terms of positive patient outcomes and cost savings," Tractica's principal analyst, Charul Vyas​, said in a press release.

Through UC solutions that make up telemedicine, patients can see primary care physicians and specialists. They don't have to wait until their regular doctor's office is open or make a needless trip to an emergency department to be checked out if it's something minor. Patients can even have tests performed at their local practice that can be diagnosed by experts in distant hospitals, HealthIT.gov claimed. With video conference software, such as the one from ThinkingPhones, they are able to get medical advice from doctors anywhere.

Patients also don't have to make the trip to the office or hospital for minor checkups. Through wearable technology and patient portals, doctors can monitor people's health, such as blood pressure and blood sugar, remotely, the World Health Organization explained. By receiving real-time data, physicians have a more accurate read on their patients' conditions.

Telehealth Offers Doctors More Flexibility

Patients aren't the only ones benefiting from the service. Telehealth technology can also be used for non-clinical reasons, according to HealthIT.gov. Special training or certification courses, as well as meetings and conferences, may require traveling and high expenses for hotels and transportation. However, with UC technology, medical professionals can remain at home and participate in the program via the Internet. With online forums, email, the cloud, video and audio conferencing, they are able to take part in the event as if they were there in person.

In Tractica's projected rise of telehealth services, these types of non-clinical processes will outnumber clinical meetings by 2019, despite the latter currently making up more than 75 percent of all video conferencing sessions.

With the help of UC tools, telemedicine can offer doctors and patients a plethora of services that they would have had to arrive in person to receive. UC solutions expand the access to health care to ensure as many people as possible can reach the help they need.

Subscribe to Fuze's Newsletter