Imagine you’ve suffered an injury that requires you to receive stitches and medication in an acute care facility. In the following days, you have follow-up appointments with nurses to ensure you are dressing the wound and taking your medication as instructed. At one point, it might seem as though the injury isn’t healing as expected, and so your medical team must seek the advice of a specialist who in turn examines the wound.
Now imagine that the series of post-hospital follow-up events never require you to leave your home.
All of this and more has been made possible by Avaya smart healthcare solutions. Tara Mahoney, Practice Leader and Senior for Healthcare at Avaya, explains how.
Using the Internet to help, rather than hinder, healthcare
As in most areas, the Internet has brought both benefits and challenges to healthcare. Mahoney explains: “More and more people are turning to the Internet for medical information. All too often this results in patients self-diagnosing themselves. This is problematic for several reasons, chief among them that the information found on the net usually represents the worst-case scenarios. The result is that people with a common cold overreact, go to the hospital, and cause congestion in our acute care facilities. But the Web isn’t the enemy. Rather than attempt to get people back to using traditional telehealth, we need to meet them where they’re at, and that means leveraging IoT.”
This is about more than providing a messaging platform for patients. It’s about creating a continuous multimedia system.
Mahoney outlines what such a system looks like: “when you navigate to your healthcare provider’s website, your first interaction may be with an AI chatbot. The chatbot will either help you with simple matters, such as directions, or connect you with the right professional using AI attribute-based routing and attribute matching. You will then be able to discuss your medical issues via voice chat, phone, or video call. And these conversations don’t exist in a vacuum. An Avaya smart healthcare system tracks every interaction a patient has within the system. Sessions with healthcare providers can be reestablished; pictures, videos and medical documents are stored and tracked, and new specialists can be brought up to speed instantly.”
Avaya technology uses a number of techniques to enable smart healthcare technology. “We’ve designed our smart healthcare systems with endpoints that users can access on any operating system, from any device,” explains Mahoney. “Avaya also manages bandwidth in such a way as to provide a high-quality experience without the need for expensive high-speed Internet connections. This lets us provide care to people in remote locations, something that is particularly important in a geographically dispersed country such as Canada.”
Smart healthcare for end-of-life
Smart healthcare systems are dramatically improving end-of-life healthcare for elderly patients. This is critical, as there is currently a massive shortage of elder care beds. “Canada is currently experiencing a significant shortage of acute care beds for the elderly,” explains Mahoney. “People require the same level of healthcare as they always have. But because they are living longer, the resources required to care for them are greater. We simply don’t have the acute care facilities to support every elderly. Further, many end-of-life patients neither need nor want acute healthcare: the research shows that, while 60% of people die in acute care, over 80% would prefer to die at home.”
The answer lies in smart healthcare. “With Avaya Equinox, we’re able to connect patients who wish to remain at home with a level of care that is usually reserved for in-patients,” describes Mahoney. “Support workers have access to medical specialists, regardless of geographic location. And this help comes in whatever form is best for the patient. For instance, a dying patient who finds listening to a voice uncomfortable can communicate with a doctor via text. The doctor can then observe the patient remotely through video and text the patient back accordingly.”