How health professionals can communicate & collaborate better, faster

27 March 2014 | Sumit Virmani, Director, Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector

It’s not always easy for health professionals to connect with the right person or information when and how they need to—to say the least. But in order to improve the efficiency and quality of care in the highly collaborative world of health today, it’s more essential than ever that they do.

In talking with customers around the world, I repeatedly hear that they need better ways for their people to be able to communicate and collaborate within and beyond their organization. This is especially true because of the mobile and multidisciplinary nature of healthcare today. The recently released IDC white paper The Mobile Professional in Healthcare: Improving Care Team Collaboration through Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C)” (commissioned by Microsoft) can help toward that end. Authored by Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president and lead healthcare industry analyst for IDC, it discusses the communication and collaboration challenges that health organizations face and provides great guidance on how they can address those challenges with today’s technologies for UC&C.

A couple of the key findings are about productivity challenges related to electronic health records (EHRs). According to the white paper:

  • EHRs, as they are architected today, lack true collaboration capabilities, resulting in clinician inefficiencies and dissatisfaction. A recent IDC Health Insights survey indicates that the top two reasons for physician job dissatisfaction are related to being less productive, either because more time was spent on documentation (85%) or because physicians were not able to see more patients (66%).
  • Nearly half (49.1%) of dissatisfied or neutral physicians report that EHRs do not follow their workflows well, suggesting that healthcare organizations will need to invest in true UC&C and personal productivity tools to support effective clinician communication and collaboration.

In other words, by providing their people with easy-to-use UC&C tools to use in conjunction with their EHR, health organizations can realize significant productivity gains.

The white paper explains that enterprise UC&C goes beyond just unified communications to include collaboration and productivity workflows. It broadly defines enterprise UC&C as a highly integrated communications environment that combines text, voice, video, and data communications in innovative ways to provide process and productivity improvement along with opportunities to collaborate. The white paper further explains that UC&C enables real-time communications and collaboration based on the preferred method and location of the recipient and facilitates the incorporation of all information sources pertinent to the communication.

Dunbrack also discusses the benefits of cloud-based UC&C—such as making it easy to collaborate across organizational boundaries and devices, as well as lowering costs. And she outlines a step-by-step roadmap for how health organizations can use Microsoft Office 365 to support operational and clinical workflows within and beyond their organization. What’s more, the white paper offers practical advice for health organizations on which use case scenarios to start with to achieve the fastest, highest impact with UC&C technologies.

No matter what stage of deployment your health organization may be in with regard to UC&C or your EHR, the IDC white paper provides invaluable guidance to help you get the most out of your investments.

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Sumit Virmani
Director, Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector

Microsoft in Health Blog

About the Author

Sumit Virmani | Director, Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector

Sumit Virmani, director in Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector, is responsible for strategy and marketing of collaboration technologies in the health industry globally. Read more