Who says doctors don’t make house calls in 2016?
After being discharged from my local hospital in mid-June I went home with a slight pain in my left forearm where an IV had been inserted while in the hospital. Four days later on a Friday evening, while home resting the slight discomfort on my forearm mushroomed into an infection. I developed a pronounced bump the size of a silver dollar with redness, tender to the touch and I could feel some heat in the immediate area. I called my healthcare provider’s after hours (800) number for after-hours consultation with medical staff. Fortunately, my healthcare program has such a service.
Only after a few rings into the call center, a nurse answered my call and the conversation went as follows:
(Audio call only) 5:15 PM Friday
Nurse: Hello. With whom am I speaking with? How can I assist you this evening?
Me: I have what I believe to be an infection from an IV on my left forearm and it’s really tender to the touch and seems to be getting worse by the hour.
Nurse: Do you have a temperature? How long has it been hurting? Have you tried Tylenol or Ibuprofen? Have you tried hot compresses?
Nurse: We can offer you a video call using an iPhone or other smartphones, iPad or other non-Apple pads with the ability to establish and conduct a video call.
Me: What did you say? A video call with a doctor tonight and I don’t need to leave my house? Wow, I’ll take the appointment.
Nurse: Excellent! I just need to send you an email with a link and instructions on how to establish your video call with the doctor. Can you logon-on to your email and verify that you have received my email with those instructions?
(The Video and Audio call at 8:40 PM on Friday)
At promptly 8:40 PM that evening, I went back to my original email from the nurse and clicked on the Join the Video Call Now link. In just 2 seconds the doctor appeared on my screen waving and greeting me. There was a doctor, live video calling and having an office visit with me in the comfort of my home and in front of the computer equipped with a webcam that I have used for other video conference calls. The call could have easily been my iPhone, my MacBook Pro or my Samsung Pad since they all can perform video calling. For this call I used a Dell Laptop with Windows 7 Professional.
Doctor: Good evening, I’m Doctor Trabert. How can I help you tonight?
Me: Hello Doctor Trabert. I think I have an infection on my left forearm from an IV I had while in the hospital earlier in the week.
Doctor: Can you hold up your arm facing the camera so I can examine it?
Doctor: Yes, I can see the tenderness and inflammation. Do you have a temperature?
Doctor: How long has it been hurting?
We spent the next few minutes discussing my medical history while the doctor looked at the medical history information provided her by my provider. That information, at this time was only viewable to the doctor but I believe that so long as we didn’t violate any HIPAA Compliance issues, she might have been able to allow me to view my history. This is called Collaboration and file sharing.
Doctor: Can you confirm your current allergies with me?
We did so. And after a few more Q and A’s she recommended two options.
Option 1-Apply hot compresses to the immediate area and elevate the arm.
Option 2-Apply hot compresses to the affected area, elevate the arm and take some anti-biotic medicine I can prescribe to you.
Me: I like option 2.
Doctor: OK, I’ll call-in a prescription for you now. To what pharmacy would you like to have it placed? It should be ready for pickup when you arrive.
Me: Thank you.
Doctor: Is there anything else I can help you with, she continued?
Me: No. That is my only concern at this time, thank you.
Doctor: OK, then. Let’s conclude this call and be sure to follow-up with your regular doctor on Monday to bring them up-to-date. It’s been nice chatting with you and I hope I have addressed all your medical needs tonight.
Me: Yes, you have, thank you. Good night, Doctor Trabert.
The call concludes, we say goodbye and the video call session is over.
Wow! What just happened? This was the best peer-to-peer video call I have ever experienced. Furthermore, it was a real doctor call in my home. I have to write this up and share with my business solutions partners.
About the technology
The technology used was actually quite simple and has been around for a few years. Video Conferencing from Avaya , called Avaya Scopia, is a fantastic way to conduct not only peer-to-peer (One-on-One) calls but can also be used for video multi-party conference calling. So the doctor could have easily included and invited other medical staff to join the call to get different opinions or to simply consult my regular, family practicing doctor. When one is being invited to participate on a video call, the inviting party sends out an email with date, time, the weblink for the actual and instructions about how to join the call which may include a user password to make sure that the participants are parties that have been actually invited to the call.
Collaboration and file sharing is a buzzword used to say that all parties on a video call can share files from their own desktop or laptop PC with the other parties on the video call. It facilitates delivering the correct content at the correct time. In many cases, collaboration and file sharing makes the video call the reason for the call itself. Spreadsheets and many other documents can be shared across the video call. But please, follow HIPAA Compliance policies when it comes to medical information.
Question: Can we use other technologies to further enhance the video call and create an even greater patient experience?
Avaya Breeze and a Co-Browsing Snap-In allows patients to log into a healthcare provided website where emails can be created by both the patient and the medical staff and doctors. I log into my healthcare website to check for messages from my doctors. I can also create and send messages to them making this a two-way experience and to allow doctors an opportunity to communicate with patients when appointments are either not necessary, not required or difficult to get. Additionally, my website allows me to get refills on my allergy medicines where re-fills have been previously approved by my doctors. The Co-Browsing application allows the patient to ask for help in navigating the website by inviting a medical or website support person to view the website and pages the patient is viewing. Co-Browsing allows the ability for the patient to give some control of the navigation chores of the website to a hospital representative. This facilitates medical staff in getting the patient to the correct page and get the information they need in a more expeditious way. In short, this makes the patient’s experience both shorter and positive.
Avaya Appointment Reminder
Immediately after establishing the 5:15 PM Audio only call with the nurse, I received an SMS (text) message and an email from my medical provider to remind me of the upcoming 8:40 PM Video Call. The reminder could have also been made by an automated speech-driven system that can dial a patient’s home, cellular and office number to deliver the reminder and or to offer the patient an opportunity to cancel or change the appointment. Appointment Reminder application is one of many applications that can run on Avaya Experience Portal, a very intelligent IVR solution that can host many medical and business applications to enhance the patient’s or the customer experience.
Elite Multi-Channel Contact Center
Today, many patients and business people are on-the go, running from one appointment to another. Oftentimes their best methods of communication may be email or an SMS message. Others spend a lot of time on websites shopping or conducting business. So here is a slightly different medical scenario.
I am traveling on business and develop pain in my lower back. If I call my doctor, I know they will not have time to speak with me now but I don’t need to speak with them now so I send an email to a Call Center group that will queue my email in the order of when it arrived or perhaps based on the subject field of my email to make sure the correct medically trained staff person receives my email. I could type in the subject the word ‘cancer.’ My email would then be routed to a hospital staff person (Agent) versed in cancer, chemotherapy, Radiation treatment, cancer surgery, and Oncology.
That evening, when I arrive home I can check for emails directly to me or one that has been left for me on my healthcare website where many of my email replied from doctors can be found. I open my email and my Oncology doctor has made an appointment for me on the following day. Additionally, my allergy doctor has authorized a re-fill on my allergy medicine for allergy maintenance. That’s a great patient experience!
If your medical staff, clinic, hospital or Medical network would like to have a discussion in more detail, please reach out to your Altura Communication Solutions Account Manager or Sales Engineer. They can help you navigate through the technology and buzz phrases and cut to the core of the applications you need to get moving on delivering a great patient experience. Altura Account Managers and Sales Engineers are highly trained and experienced in delivering products and solutions that enable the healthcare and other business verticals to meet patient and customer needs. A great patient experience can be worth thousands of dollars to the medical system. It can also mean patients get faster, meaningful medical attention, even on the go. Let Altura Communication Solutions help you deliver better patient and business services.
Albert E. Ruiz
Senior Sales Engineer
Altura Communication Solutions