Video Conferencing in Healthcare: Beyond Telemedicine Part 2
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how video is opening up completely new vistas for medical professionals to learn, collaborate and support their patients - such as for Multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTs). Here is an example:
A major London-based NHS Trust upgraded to BlueJeans video conferencing to facilitate MDT meetings. These meetings can typically have anywhere from 10 to 60 participants, spread across different hospitals and locations within the Trust. Before BlueJeans, the meetings were held in conference rooms across different facilities, using a legacy video conferencing system. The team at the Trust realized that this closed system, which relied on bridge connections to join its room systems together, needed to be modernized.
Due to the pandemic, the Trust decided to roll out BlueJeans several weeks ahead of its original schedule. The team needed to keep the MDTs running as smoothly and efficiently as possible in order to facilitate critical treatments during the crisis. The team also decided that they needed a way to let consultants join meetings from home if they needed to self-isolate.
Again, implementation was very fast. With support from our onboarding, account and support teams, the Trust was able to get up and running in a matter of days. MDT participants can now join meetings from anywhere, on the device of their choosing. Crucially, since deploying BlueJeans, the number of MDTs has shot up from 60 to about 800 meetings a week.
Selecting the right video conferencing system
Selecting the right video conferencing system, however, can be something of a minefield. Not only are there many to choose from, healthcare has very stringent requirements for privacy, security and quality. Here are the most important questions to ask when evaluating videoconferencing systems:
- How does it protect patient privacy and security? Look for capabilities like meeting passwords, the ability to hold locked meetings, and enterprise-grade encryption, which are essential for meeting compliance standards like GDPR and HIPAA compliance. Read vendors’ privacy and security statements VERY carefully and seek legal advice on any points that are unclear. Avoid ‘free’ services that don’t offer sufficient protections.
- How high is the audio/visual quality? - The system you choose should provide high definition video AND audio. High definition video is essential for shared viewing of test results like MRIs. But don’t overlook the importance of high definition audio, which ensures that important information is communicated clearly, without delay, distortion and background noise. Look for systems that embed a recognized standard like Dolby Voice.
- Will it fit into our IT environment and our patients’ systems? Hospitals are hybrid IT environments so video conferencing systems must be open and interoperable to meet current and future requirements. Your chosen system also should support PCs, mobile devices, and in-room hardware systems so that hospitals and practices can get more mileage out of existing conferencing investments. It should also be compatible with most PCs and devices that patients are likely to use. Finally, some videoconferencing systems offer integrations to electronic health record (EHR) platforms and other software used in healthcare.
- What metrics does the system provide? As hospitals are required to measure the efficiency, productivity and ROI of IT systems, admin features are essential. A good video conferencing system will provide an admin console for monitoring and measuring usage; spotting and diagnosing technical problems; and informing decision-making.
On a final note, it’s important to remember that video didn’t take off in healthcare because it was a way to save money. It proved its worth by offering viable solutions to urgent problems during a global health pandemic. Hopefully this article will inspire you to consider the many ways that video can support your efforts to collaborate effectively and improve patient outcomes.
For more insight on how the NHS has had to rapidly scale up video conferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the different ways video conferencing can facilitate patient care, as well as future proof it, view the BlueJeans white paper, “Entering the Age of Virtual Healthcare”.