As hospitals and health systems continuously adapt to the changing healthcare needs and practices of the 21st century, technology takes on an ever-expanding role. According to the Hospital Providers on the Move report, completed by SK&A healthcare marketing company, audio visual and media systems accounted for one of the fastest expanding employment areas between March 2010 and March 2011 at healthcare establishments across the country.
We’ve seen how audio and visual media, especially telepresence, have helped patients access difficult-to-reach doctors for illnesses ranging from Parkinson’s disease to psychiatric disorders. Perhaps the hiring increase for Directors of Audio Visual/Media Services indicates that even more hospitals have found technology like telepresence can enhance patient care.
Whether hospitals have yet to incorporate telepresence and other communication technology into much of their patient services, opportunities to do so abound. The SK&A report found that other prime areas of personnel expansion included substance abuse services and social services. Interestingly, both addiction counseling and social services lend themselves to collaboration technology like telepresence. With telepresence, providers can lead group sessions, bringing together patients with similar issues without requiring lengthy commutes to a facility. This added convenience to the patients could help ensure their continuity of care. Telepresence would also allow healthcare providers to pool their resources, virtually sending specialists based in one facility to networked hospitals located anywhere. At the push of a button, a substance abuse counselor could speak with distant colleagues, or chat “in-person” with a patient miles away and still have the kind of intimate, nuanced conversation such counseling requires.
Do you work in a medical facility that uses telepresence or other collaboration technology? Do you think such technology could benefit you and your patients?