Virtual Healthcare: Cut Costs, Improve Patient Care with UC

Virtual Healthcare: Cut Costs, Improve Patient Care with UC

The digital transformation has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives, and healthcare is no exception. Consumers are increasingly embracing technology to manage their health, from fitness trackers to mobile apps. However, the healthcare industry has been relatively slow in adopting new technologies for patient care and management, partly due to the belief that personal human-to-human interaction is essential. Nevertheless, as rising costs, increasing demand, and a shrinking workforce continue to strain the healthcare system, administrators and clinicians must turn to technology to address these challenges.

The Impending Caregiver Shortage

Virtual Healthcare

One of the most pressing issues facing the healthcare industry is the looming caregiver shortage. The aging Baby Boomer generation, coupled with a lack of younger workers to meet the rising demand for healthcare services, has created a concerning trend. According to studies by AARP and the Pew Research Center, while the number of Americans requiring care is expected to reach nearly 120 million by 2024, the number of family or informal caregivers is likely to rise to only 45 million.

Additionally, nursing and caregiving professions experience high turnover rates, with the home care industry exceeding 70% according to a recent survey by Home Care Pulse. This constant cycle of losing and recruiting caregivers is a significant financial burden for healthcare providers.

In a caregiver shortage, industries such as home health and home care will have critically stunted growth despite rising demand. A recent AARP study looked at the number Americans who needed care versus how many people are available to provide that care. It showed a troubling trend. An estimated 40 million Americans currently provide unpaid family care or “informal” care to an adult over the age of 65. A similar study from the Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had similar findings: 40.4 million Americans provide care for an adult over 65 years of age. They also found that these caregivers tended to be between the ages of 45 and 64. In fact, nearly one in four adults in this age range act as a caregiver for an older adult in some capacity. While the number of people who need care is expected to grow to nearly 120 million by 2024, the number of family or informal caregivers is only likely to rise to 45 million. This means there is soon to be a massive shortage of family or informal caregivers, which will inevitably spill over into the paid caregiver sector.

More concerning still, nursing is a high-demand, high-turnover profession, and caregiver burnout is a tremendous problem that the industry has yet to solve. In a recent survey by Home Care Pulse, turnover rates in the home care industry exceed 70%, leaving agencies scrambling to find qualified caregiving candidates and footing the bill for regular training and orientation. The cost alone of repeatedly losing and recruiting caregivers (through home care marketing) is one of the single most burdensome issues facing home care providers today. If the pool of new caregiving professionals shrinks further as compared to demand, the consequences could be catastrophic.

How Virtual Healthcare, Powered by Unified Communications, Can Help.

Unified communications has helped companies in nearly all industries streamline their communications and processes. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a fast-growing sector precisely because it empowers companies to increase performance and productivity while saving on costs. The same is undoubtedly true of healthcare.

In light of the impending healthcare labor shortage, a UCaaS deployment can offer a full breadth of services to help healthcare providers create a virtual healthcare environment. Unified communications systems provide mobile applications to help streamline processes between employees, and to bring what is currently a manual patient health tracking system into the digital era. Such tools also enable better collaboration and increase employee retention.

Unified communications improve patients’ experience with healthcare by deploying easy-to-use communications systems, creating consistency across all channels, and by helping healthcare workers anticipate patient needs. Such systems allow the deployment of virtual healthcare and reduce the amount of hands-on care facilities need to provide. 

Unified Communications platforms offer tremendous benefits through advanced services. These include:

  1. Patient tracking and fall prevention tools
  2. Medication management technology for streamlined administration
  3. Efficient nurse call solutions
  4. Telehealth technology for remote consultations, reducing travel costs

Virtual healthcare, supported by a hosted UC platform, can significantly improve employee retention by providing interactive training solutions, enabling collaboration, creating an agile workforce, and empowering remote workers.

The Way Forward with Virtual Healthcare

As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, hospitals and health agencies must remain competitive by deploying UCaaS solutions to create a virtual healthcare environment. Providers like MIX Networks offer a range of services, including hosted UC, mobile apps, and 4G failover, to support this digital transformation.

By embracing virtual healthcare powered by unified communications, the healthcare industry can enhance patient care, optimize costs, and address the challenges posed by the impending caregiver shortage.

There are numerous reasons why the healthcare industry is looking to UCaaS providers to upgrade their communications systems to create a virtual healthcare environment. With such rapid growth in demand, hospitals and health agencies who intend to remain competitive in the marketplace will need to consider deploying these services. MIX Networks is a premier provider of UCaaS, with such services as a full hosted UC, mobile app, and 4G failover. To learn more about our services, CLICK HERE.

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