Amid population growth, aging baby boomers, and millions more Americans with health insurance, the time to schedule a doctor’s appointment has jumped 30% in over the last five years. The average wait time to see a specialist in 2017 was 29 days, an increase from 12 days since 2012. Outside of the United States, the American College of Physicians reports that 60% of doctors in the United Kingdom and 57% of doctors in Canada say their patients had to wait four weeks or more to see a specialist.
Specialist shortages pose a real risk to patients. With a growing, aging population, the United States faces an increasing demand for specialty physicians.
- The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors in the United States by 2030, with the majority being in specialty care.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that about 47% of all doctor visits for those age 65 and older are with a specialist, and growing.
When a lack of staffing limits access to specialty health care, telehealth can bridge the gap. Technology can connect patients with providers easily and instantly with a similar, if not better, experience. Video conferencing can “facilitate the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of a patient’s health care,” Center for Connected Health Policy.
Collaboration technology can bring the specialist and the patient together with a live, two-way interaction. It benefits both patient and caregiver, reducing patient wait times and allowing specialists more time with each patient.
“Cisco collaboration has proven its value in specialist care and opened the door to many more creative possibilities,” says Dr. Stazesky, NYC Health and Hospitals. “It’s an easy way to connect people face-to-face, and we’re taking advantage of that as quickly as we can.” Providers can use live video for both consultative and diagnostic and treatment services, simplifying the coordination and delivery of care interactions. In some cases, it can be a life-saving technology.
Implementing collaboration technology in the healthcare environment can:
- Cut wait times to see a specialist and allowing for more time with each patient
- Give specialists more time and flexibility to enhance patient care
- Provide specialty care for those who are homebound or where distance is prohibitive
- Lead to quicker communication to eliminate unnecessary patient anxiety
- Lead to faster problem solving, greater operational efficiency, and reduced risk of downtime
- Aid in faster emergency response
Healthcare case studies
Read on for examples of how the patient experience is improving with collaboration at:
- Mozhugonka Hospital
- NEL CSU and Stellar Healthcare
- Ochsner Health Systems
Tibet’s Mozhugongka Hospital elevates healthcare
Mozhugongka Hospital is using collaboration technology to improve healthcare in the mountains of Tibet, where the patient-doctor ratio is 1:2000. The hospital implemented a remote medical platform so doctors in Nanjing, China, can diagnose and recommend care for rural patients. Video conferencing has sped access to care for the rural patients, giving them the same medical care as if they were being treated in person at a metropolitan doctor’s office. Patients who had to wait weeks or months for test results now only have to wait a few days.
Learn more about how Mozhugonka Hospital elevates rural healthcare.
North and East London Commissioning Support Unit relies on cloud
When distance, mobility, and time make visiting a doctor near impossible, live video appointments help ensure patients are receiving the healthcare they need. NEL CSU delivers healthcare to patients with HealthConnect, a cloud-based service for live video appointments the uses Cisco Unified Communications. Stellar Healthcare predicts that video consultations could potentially cut the number of missed appointments by 40%, and make consulting time 60% to 70% more productive.”
See how NEL CSU and Stellar Healthcare offer distance care via cloud solutions.
Ochsner Health Systems transforms global communications
New Orleans-based Oschner Health Systems is using collaboration technology is improving efficiency. Its 28 affiliated hospitals and more than 60 health centers are responsible for managing hundreds of thousands of patient records from all 50 U.S. states and 99 countries. With new tools in place, Ochsner is expanding service areas and locations even further.
“We can move quickly, flexibly and collectively in ways we never could before,” said Roy Sookhoo, CTO Ochsner Health Systems.
Unified Communications helps Ochsner seamlessly organize and share records across its organization. With electronic medical records available from any location, the organization’s 2,700 affiliated physicians can share records instantly for uninterrupted care.
See how Ochsner Health Systems expands healthcare.
Learn more about Collaboration for Healthcare