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By Paul Scholey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, International, BlueJeans by Verizon
As it is in so many areas of our lives today, the use of videoconferencing technology is exploding in healthcare. Video was initially met with some resistance on the grounds that it couldn’t replace human interaction – it can’t and shouldn’t. However, when assessed purely on its own merits, video offers a host of unique new ways to collaborate and improve patient outcomes.
It makes sense that the first problem video solved was the delivery of remote patient care. Many patients can’t or won’t visit their GPs or specialists while Covid rages on. Fortunately remote care is growing in popularity with exactly those who need it most – elderly and vulnerable patients. And this group is getting more internet and tech-savvy every year. According to the Office of National Statistics, retired adults have increased their use of the internet from 40 to 67 percent between 2011 and 2019.
A remote patient care system can be introduced very rapidly, even on a large scale. The community health NHS Trust, Central London Community Healthcare (CLCH), needed to quickly transform the way it delivered its community health services when Covid hit. To keep patients and staff safe for services, CLCH used our BlueJeans Meetings videoconferencing system to facilitate virtual community healthcare for two million patients within a matter of weeks. The system was used for one-on-one patient care, group therapy and staff collaboration.
CLCH also uses our BlueJeans Events system to hold large-scale “townhalls” and executive meetings. Today 60 percent of community health services are conducted over video conferencing, guaranteeing continuous and timely patient care while lowering the risk of exposure to patients, staff and clinicians during the pandemic.
Remote patient care, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Video is opening up completely new vistas for medical professionals to learn, collaborate and support their patients. Here are just a few we’ve seen firsthand:
A major London-based NHS Trust upgrade 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 realised that this closed system, which relied on bridge connections to join its room systems together, needed to be modernised.
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, 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:
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”
Content has been developed and funded by BlueJeans by Verizon.