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ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal

Being able to participate at an American Telemedicine Association event in Austin, Texas has been a true highlight of 2013. The conference and its attendees were a-buzz with more remote monitoring devices than I knew existed, infinite possibilities to provide “care anywhere,” and a fantastic array of new connections in this growing facet of our industry. Thought-provoking conversations centered on convergence of healthcare and ICT, needs and opportunities for telehealth stakeholders, and telehealth’s impact on treatment and prevention.

ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal A common theme throughout the event was the current state of the industry and how connected health solutions are creating pathways to transform healthcare. This includes things such as workflow optimization, provider and patient engagement, and new application opportunities in the field of care. Telehealth has the power to impact both treatment and prevention in healthcare, which is crucial to shifting the burden of healthcare costs down, and the ability to improve outcomes.

During the event, I was privileged to take part in a Market Watch panel, “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” hosted by Frost & Sullivan. This panel consisted of representatives from companies focused on remote monitoring, video telemedicine, mHealth, and home healthcare. We discussed key differences and similarities between these top market verticals concerning challenges, business models, and future growth.

Each of the panelists were asked several questions:

  1. What are the most innovative or transformative use examples of telehealth solutions you are seeing live in practice, which can impact change and outcomes?
  2. What restraints and challenges are people facing out in the market now especially in terms of realizing revenue growth and potential for telehealth solutions? Why will the future be different from the past?
  3. What are some best practices you have seen in getting patients engaged with mobile and telehealth solutions and actually driving behavioral change?
  4. Would you agree with our (Frost & Sullivan) view of the importance of video telemedicine in leading markets in telehealth, and what realized uptake is being seen in practice currently and what other factors are important to make this work?

Innovative telehealth use

There is a great deal of innovative  telehealth use, but one example I shared involved doctors recording patients’ visits (using Show ‘n Share) and sending a link of the recording to the patients after the fact so they can easily watch it again, and share with family and friends. This represents an innovative and different use of telehealth technology – it supports patients who are likely inundated with information during their visit and allows them to relive their consult remotely. 

Restraints and challenges

Telehealth now encompasses so many different channels patients want to use to interact with their healthcare system – telephone, mobile, social, email, text, web chat, etc. This means health care providers and payers must invest in the proper operational infrastructure to support these consumer connection expectations.  I gave the example of a patient with an illness, who wants to talk to a doctor remotely, and expects to be “seen” within 15 minutes. A payer or provider cannot expect to deliver that specific level of service unless they have a centralized infrastructure that is dedicated to operations. In order for this to be scalable, health systems will have to invest in elements such as contact center, unified communications, secure wireless infrastructures, and endpoints with solutions like Jabber and WebEx. These are just examples of some solutions that can be deployed in order to make telehealth work seamlessly to provide patients with the best remote care experience possible.

Best practices

Many panelists discussed gamification and how it is becoming a tool to engage consumers, as it ties to human nature, competitiveness and camaraderie. I discussed this from my personal standpoint. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy that healthcare should deploy more because many health systems are being asked to think and act more like retailers in-nature. Healthcare systems need to take a page from companies who have to know their customers well and respond. This requires a strategic shift in how they approach and interact with patients and families, creating an infrastructure that would allow patients and family members or loved ones to communicate and interact with their care professionals via the communication method they choose. A sophisticated CRM strategy and eco-system is necessary to manage this.

Importance of video telemedicine

To drive home the importance of video in telehealth and the need for more efficiency in healthcare, I highlighted the model for primary care. I noted that primary care itself could be more remote and centralized at the same time. This could be a market differentiator for the health systems that deploy such a model, because the cost structure would be significantly reduced. A key technology component that supports this is a call manager feature combined with  remote video technology that looks at hundreds of doctors to determine who may be available at any given time. As telehealth and telemedicine technology begins to grow and be widely adopted, this will be even more important. In order for it to scale and cross organization boundaries, it must be interoperable with different devices and endpoints and be able to connect in any way possible.

One thing is for sure; telehealth cannot exist without the support and adoption of the clinical community.  The only way to ensure successful adoption of new technology is hand-in-hand implementation that’s tailored to the desired clinical workflow and to ensure that clinicians are championing it across the organization.

Learn more about ATA and the “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” panel I participated in. And let me know any thoughts you have about my responses to the panel questions.

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Next Generation Wealth Management: Mobile Technology Enhances the Customer Experience

The wealth management industry is under transformation. In an effort to win back trust, attract new customers and retain existing ones, firms are investing in new collaborative technologies that support their business model transformation from transactions to interactions focused on client centricity. IBSG Figure 4 GraphVarious McKinsey research and studies have shown that those who adopt more client-centric tools and processes can increase revenues up to 20 percent and profitability up to 2.5 times. Cisco’s own research has shown that wealth management firms that adopt client centric tools such as video can reduce client attrition, especially for the critical under-55 segment. Part of this transformation involves investing in video capabilities that enable firms and their experts to touch more customers, more often and in a more intimate manner than voice and email do today.

Getting the right expert to the right customer, at the right time is crucial in being able to offer superior customer service and improve cross-sell and up-sell rates. Another critical, competitive differentiator is embedding video capabilities into the mobile channels and applications customers already use. Read More »

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Customers Desire More Personal Service From Their Banks

Some might argue that retail banking is known more for its inconveniences than its convenience. As an example, the common term ‘banker’s hours’ is synonymous with “being open for the shortest and most inconvenient amount of time”. Despite that legacy, retail banks have made a concerted effort and real progress to extend services through various delivery channels to improve the retail banking customer experience.

Banks may have closed the customer service gap with other industries, but like other industries, must stay ahead of the consumer to deliver an experience that provides profitable value and differentiation. According to a recent report, what most customers want from their banks is greater access and more personalized experiences (in the form of advice, products, and services).

It’s not a surprising conclusion especially to the banking industry which has adapted a retail industry term – omnichannel – to describe the needed capabilities to deliver a consistent customer experience across all channels.

The Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report for Retail Banking – a global survey of consumers and bank professionals conducted in early 2013 – highlights the opportunities and the challenges that banking institutions face in meeting current and future customer expectations. Globally, consumers ranked Read More »

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The Future of Payments and Commerce: Digital Payment Strategies in the Age of Omnichannel Banking

Banks, for the most part, have realized the importance of mobile as a channel. Across the globe, empowered executives are being appointed to head up digital channel programs. Their primary mission: define and implement the mobile banking channel and seamlessly integrate it with the other major digital channels—online banking.

For the most part, they have focused their strategies on ”forklifting” online banking features to mobile without worrying much about mobile payments. However, the new reality of channel migration is a bit more complicated: the merger of virtual and digital channels in this new age of ”omnichannel banking” is bringing digital channels into bank branches, customer homes, and places of business, and transforming the world of payments and commerce.

So, how is the omnichannel reality affecting the world of payments, and why should banks care (aside from the fact that payments-related revenues can account for up to 25 percent of total retail banking revenues)?

Most of us are familiar with mobile apps that allow us, when in a retail store, to scan a product bar code, access online reviews, and potentially buy the product from Amazon.com (or a nearby retailer) at a discounted price. This capability is the new reality (and challenge) of omnichannel in the retail world. Such changes, however, will not end here: imagine receiving offers, digital coupons, credit card loyalty points, and more on your cell phone so that you can seamlessly apply them to your purchases when paying with your mobile device upon checkout (at the physical store or online).

The promise of connecting mobile payments and commerce through new capabilities embedded in the mobile wallet is real, and several mobile-wallet providers have emerged, including a number of non-financial-services players (telcos, tech companies, retailers, and others). Read More »

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The Importance of the Omnichannel in Financial Services

Technology has and will continue to be a key enabler across every product delivery channel within the financial services sector. You simply need to explore some of the newer bank branches, available applications within app stores or investigate online innovations inherent in many institutions’ web presence to see how engrained technology has become in the customer experience. While firms are making this transition in differentiated form factors and across different channels, the trend itself is clear and pervasive; underpinned by the “anywhere, anytime” mantra and the continued consumerization of technology.

These channel developments cut across all products, but all have one common element – enabling improved and increased collaboration between institutions, their clients, businesses and/or consumers to drive accretive revenue. While these developments have and will continue to deliver impressive initial returns, they are largely siloed by either a business unit and/or delivery channel. The true potential value can only be unlocked by enabling a seamless and contextual integration of the physical, direct and mobile channels – the evolution from multi-channel to omnichannel.

The omnichannel model enables the customer to choose how and by what method they want to conduct their business, be that in person, via a mobile device, from the home, online or with telephony. Cisco’s IBSG team has published a white paper that looks into the transformation of institutions from multi-channel to omnichannel. While the method of communication is important, the true differentiator in transformational channel evolution is the ability to integrate interaction. Institutions must be aware of the context and outcomes of customer interactions as customers move from channel to channel, product to product, or business line to business line.

From an institutional point of view, the value in the omnichannel impacts multiple factors. Read More »

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