By: Darach Beirne, Vice President of Customer Success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado
Cloud-based communication services are becoming more widely used across the business landscape—including organizations in the healthcare technology space. These tools help spur connection and innovation, as well as reduce costs and optimize IT investments.
While these services have been integrated into more doctors’ and dentists’ offices over the last ten years, demand has increased significantly in 2020 as organizations shifted to support remote work and operations. Now, more healthcare providers and their IT departments have turned to cloud-based communication technologies that support flexible interactions. These solutions ensure seamless operations as patients return to elective surgeries and seek regular care. Cloud-based telecom has also become the cornerstone of customer service in this sector —giving more options for patients to safely schedule appointments and connect with a provider over text, phone call or live chat.
Though there are many benefits of cloud-based telecom, including enhanced flexibility, security and scalability, some companies may still be wondering how to sidestep some of the historical challenges associated with these tools.
Below are a few of the common myths that healthcare IT decision makers may be facing when evaluating cloud-based telecom. The points below debunk these misperceptions so health tech leaders can adopt these technologies confidently to improve patient interactions and care.
Myth #1: VoIP sound quality is less than ideal
In the past, VoIP audio on hosted phone systems was known to cause problems if the network was not set up to prioritize voice traffic. In these situations, a lag in transmission known as latency impacted call quality. You may be rightfully concerned about whether VoIP call quality could disrupt a diagnosis or make it more challenging for patients to schedule an appointment. However, thanks to innovations over the years, these issues are resolved. Cloud-based carriers and service providers now offer dedicated bandwidth to ensure high speed and low latency. With these changes, you can erase poor audio quality from your list of concerns.
Myth #2: Landline communications are more reliable
This is another commonly held belief that is not accurate. Modern cloud-based communication service providers and carriers can resolve network outages faster than legacy providers because they can reroute call traffic. When a landline connection is impacted by a network outage, for example, you would have to call the phone company and wait for them to fix it. Resolving this issue could take several hours, which would displace operations and jeopardize patient communications and care. By contrast, a cloud-based connection can be repaired faster because of adaptive call routing, which allows calls to avoid the disruption by getting routed to another network. This way, if your customer service department is inundated with calls, adaptive call routing can switch the traffic over another secure partner network to make sure you are back up and running with minimal downtime.
Myth #3: Traditional phone systems are more secure
Another inaccuracy. Cloud security only provides as much protection as its weakest link, and a communications platform is only as safe as its design. Major security breaches from VoIP vulnerabilities are often caused by networks that were improperly configured. It is important that all systems remain as secure as possible and HIPAA compliant, otherwise you run the risk of sensitive medical information getting into the wrong hands. To achieve this, the entire network must be secured, including internet phone lines. With the high security needs of a healthcare tech company, a customized approach will offer the best protection.
Here are a few best practices that you should implement to ensure you are making the most of every security option available:
- Make sure software and firmware are kept up to date
- Change passwords often
- Establish secure connections protocols like SSL for all access to any point in the network from anywhere
Recommendations for Evaluating Carriers
While cloud-based communication solutions can give healthcare IT teams better access and control over their telecom services, you may need a little extra support from the carrier you work with to ensure you’re getting the right level of IT and telecom support to meet patient needs—especially if you don’t have an in-house IT department or a software development team.
When evaluating a potential carrier, it is important to find one that can identify what your patient, provider and employee needs are. Since this may be a big area of investment, you want to get the job done correctly by a reliable carrier. Here are a few tips to help guide your decision making:
- Thoroughly assess their offerings. Telecom carriers offer different levels of technology or services—some of which may not be relevant for you. For instance, you may be looking for tools to help you expand customer service, but you do not need to use these same tools for internal purposes. Make sure to do your research and get the right products and solutions that align with your specific needs.
- Understand scalability potential. Unpredictability has become one of the only guarantees in 2020, so you’ll want to be sure to choose a provider that can offer solutions that give you the ability to flex and adapt accordingly. Investing in solutions that allow you to be flexible and resilient will help you adjust when and if the time comes.
- Look for customization options. Partnering with telecom providers that give you the option to tailor or customize their products and services will be hugely beneficial. Being able to make small tweaks that adapt the tool to your needs will help improve your level of service and prevent you from overpaying for unneeded services. Selecting a provider that offers customization will help you get the most out of your investment,
Using these points as guidance can put healthcare providers and health technology companies on the right track to partnering with the right cloud-based telecom provider.
Keeping in mind that many common misconceptions about the cloud are in fact untrue, health IT decision makers can become more comfortable with their new tools and gain more control over their cloud tools. Don’t let your hesitation get in the way of making the most of these powerful tools and using them to enhance your operations as much as possible.
About the Author
Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute’s dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach lead professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies develop strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.