It’s been almost 145 years since Alexander Graham Bell was granted his telephone patent and made the first-ever phone call. Without that invention, no one knows if or when telecommunications would be a part of our world.
Telecommunications has become an essential part of the healthcare industry. Defined as the suite of technologies, devices, equipment, facilities, networks and applications that support communication at a distance, it consists of telephone calls, videoconferencing and other forms of electronic and digital communications.
The streamlined communication available through this type of technology enables healthcare providers to contact patients, other clinicians and administrators or management, precipitating improved patient care and operating efficiency. It aids in decreased wait times, increased patient and provider satisfaction and more expedient care. Used in the management of chronic medical conditions, it has been shown to be especially effective in primary prevention and early disease detection, chronic disease control and symptom management and personal and social support
Communication and Collaboration
There are a multitude of ways telecommunications is utilized in healthcare, especially through digital technology. One is telehealth and telemedicine, both of which enable people living in remote and rural areas to access healthcare without travelling a long distance. The term telehealth often is used interchangeably with telemedicine but consists of basic telecommunication tools, such as phone calls, text messages, patient portals and emails that allow patients to communicate with their providers. Telemedicine includes remote clinical services through technologies such as remote patient monitoring and live videoconferencing.
Another advantageous use of telecommunications in healthcare is providers communicating and collaborating with other clinicians to treat patients. Through phone calls, emails, text messages, electronic health record (EHR) systems and other methods, they can discuss a patient’s medical history, test results and treatment options from almost anywhere, enhancing continuity of care.
Data Accessibility and Exchange
The exchange of patient data is much easier and quicker through telecommunications technology. Laboratories and other medical testing facilities can electronically and more accurately share test results, including high-resolution images, with various providers.
With the right security protocols in place for HIPAA compliance, data critical to a patient’s course of treatment can be transmitted and stored for access by multiple clinicians, allowing them to regularly keep track of a patient’s condition. With the employment of cloud-based telecommunications systems, providers procure even easier access to patient data and don’t risk the possibility of connection downtime due to a disaster caused by nature or human error.
Smartphones and other mobile devices allow for quicker access to information, a convenience that for many consumers is expected in healthcare. Automated communications are designed to enable providers to contact patients through their preferred method, thereby helping to improve patient satisfaction. Through email and SMS messaging, this technology lets providers share appointment reminders and confirmation requests that help reduce no-shows; personalized messages that help the patient feel a closer connection with the practice; and digital newsletters that provide patients with important announcements and information to help them better manage their health.
Not only does research show that sending patients appointment reminders can reduce no-shows by 80 percent, automated patient outreach solutions can save time and workflow efficiency for a practice’s office staff, resulting in reduced costs. They also make it easier for providers and their staff to spend more time engaging with patients face-to-face.
Part of achieving the numerous advantages of telecommunications is not using outdated technology. Physician practices and other healthcare enterprises that fail to implement up-to-date solutions often experience challenges such as the inability to quickly respond to patient calls, delays and breakdowns in vital communication between medical staff, interruptions to workflow and increased financial waste due to unnecessary capital expenditures and reduced productivity of staff.
A prime example of updated telecommunications solutions is a cloud-based voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. These systems offer:
- Improved business continuity and streamlined efficiency
- On-demand access to services on a pay-as-you-go model
- Increased scalability and reliability
- Elimination of hardware expenditures and associated maintenance
- Capability for cross-site integration and collaboration
- Improved integration with other healthcare systems (i.e. EHRs, billing and practice management systems, fax servers)
- More modern features and capabilities, including e-faxing, after-hours call routing and spam-protection technology
Rely on RingRx for Your Healthcare Telecommunications Needs
RingRx is a next-generation, cloud communications platform designed to simplify and improve patient-staff communications for healthcare provider organizations of all sizes. As a completely HIPAA-compliant communications solution, it helps medical practices improve communications, reduce costs and minimize errors. Sign up for our free 14-day trial to experience it for yourself!