Information is the fuel for the continuing transformation of healthcare, enabling a care system that can address the growing challenges of quality, equity and cost.  But as health systems and hospitals digitally transform, as they increase their ability to acquire and process clinical information, the question is how effectively are they using that information to drive improved care processes.  Are they fully leveraging the information opportunity that is before them?

Healthcare is unique, in that it is both highly analytical, dependent on complex and well-established process, as well as being deeply social, nuanced by the needs the individual patients and the staff that must work together as a team.  Our information systems need to recognise this duality.  At present, we often heavily focus on our ability to capture and process information, and less on how we integrate people with that information to deliver care.  We need to step beyond the focus on our digital equivalent of a smart piece of paper…the PC, and learn from the community’s broader engagement with social collaboration technologies.  We need to look at ways that we can integrate clinical data, text, video and voice securely into the workflow of a hospital.  We need to create a more holistic environment that enables individuals to deliver the contextual information required but can also socially engage the care provider and patient so they can experience a better care process.

This is the emerging domain of Process Collaboration, the evolution of unified communication to social engagement, but integrated with the workflow of the healthcare system.  This new environment is founded upon scalable and adaptable networks, comprehensive security and socially enabled collaboration processes.   Mapping the capabilities required for a future process collaboration enabled healthcare community sees a progressive development of five communication sharing characteristics.

  • Immediate: Rapid access to the individual
  • Collective: Brings together multiple team members
  • Informed: Information is aggregated from multiple data sources
  • Persistent: The discussion is stored and supplemented
  • Coordinated: Information is linked to workflow

The relative presence of these characteristics defines an organisation’s information capability, from simple separate communications, through mixed and unified communications, through to process collaboration.  In this environment collaboration is no longer just voice or video, it is the integration of all the information technology capabilities, encompassing transport, mobility, communications and security into a single set of sharing capabilities.  Such an environment enables people to engage with others, care providers and patients using the full spectrum of sharing skills, both analytical and social.

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Journey to process collaboration

Building such an environment requires the design of an interoperable information infrastructure which allows an organisation to evolve its capabilities progressively, as its needs develop.  Technologies such as Cisco Digital Network Architecture, Unified Collaboration and Spark together with Cisco’s suite of security solutions provides the foundation for building a process collaboration enabled organisation.   Read the white paper “Capturing the Opportunity of Digital Transformation in Healthcare” to find out more.



Brendan Lovelock

Health Practice Lead

Cisco Australia