By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
For the past five years, Connections Magazine has taken one issue each year to focus on healthcare, be it telehealth, telephone triage, or healthcare contact centers. For the last couple of years, this has occurred in our March issue.
Our sister publication, AnswerStat, focuses on the healthcare contact center industry. At AnswerStat we just updated our tagline to read “The information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources” to better explain what we cover.
Our work with AnswerStat gives us an up-close view of what’s happening throughout the year in the world of telehealth, allowing us to share the best of the best for Connections Magazine’s annual focus on healthcare contact centers. With AnswerStat starting its fourteenth year, that’s a lot of coverage.
Always an interesting area, healthcare contact centers and telehealth took on a heightened level of importance with the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as ObamaCare). Even before the bill passed, speculation abounded on the ramifications for healthcare contact centers and the telehealth industry. Opportunities seemed everywhere, from doing more of what we were already doing to delving into exciting new areas of service.
Some of the newer possibilities included helping to contain costs, enhance patient care, reduce hospital readmission rates, improve operational efficiencies, and oversee disease management. Under the more-of-the-same category, we saw telephone triage, appointment setting and reminders, physician referrals, and medical answering service all grow in importance.
On the front of leading-edge technologies, I recently wrote a column in AnswerStat titled “The Internet of Things Intersects Healthcare.” At its basic level the Internet of Things (IoT) puts an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag in things in order to monitor where they are or what they are doing.
For healthcare the IoT as many applications. While monitoring patients’ vital signs is common in the hospital environment, the concept can now extend to home-based convalescence or hospice. Locating dementia patients who have wandered off is feasible with the IoT. Even remotely administering medications is a possibility. Telehealth taps into the IoT and can greatly expand because of it. The list of potential healthcare IoT applications is limited only by our ability to imagine grand solutions.
While the idea behind IoT is automation, at some point people must be able to evaluate the collected data. As such, the modern healthcare contact center stands at the intersection of healthcare and the IoT. That means more opportunities – and the IoT is just one such evolving technology.
Given all this it’s not surprising that our healthcare contact center coverage this year is the biggest yet, with our vendor directory and articles on telehealth, finding the right consultant, and telephone triage.
Of course this issue isn’t all about telehealth. We have our regular columns as well as some general articles.
We hope you enjoy this special issue of Connections Magazine.
[From Connection Magazine – March/April 2016]