Telemedicine Takes Center Stage in Baltimore

Today, it’s estimated that more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in or near a major urban area. For those of us who do, seeing a doctor is relatively easy—there are multiple specialists to choose from, and checkups are something we can do on our lunch break.

But what about the other half of the planet? Seeing a medical specialist for a routine checkup is a major undertaking–in some cases requiring long-distance travel.

Enter telemedicine, a rapidly-growing field that allows people to connect with doctors virtually, often using live video and instant messaging. Telemedicine also allows doctors to connect with their colleagues over video conferencing.

Last month, I got the chance to attend the annual American Telemedicine Association conference in Baltimore. This year’s show had nearly 5,000 attendees and 250 vendors in the exhibit hall (their largest exhibitor showcase to date). At the show, the ATA unveiled its new slogan, “Connected to Care,” a theme that resonated throughout the four-day show.

American Telemedicine Association Conference 2014

I attended some fantastic sessions from leaders in the field of telemedicine, notably from global humanitarian and Harvard University professor Dr. Paul Farmer, United Health Group CEO Stephen Hemsley and Jonathan Woodson, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

Farmer has done extensive work in Rwanda and Haiti, two countries that have been in dire need of improved medical care. He advocates for telemedicine as a way to bring effective care to areas that are underserved by onsite doctors. To drive his point home, he told the story of Joseph, a patient whose access to care helped him transition from untreatable to treatable.

American Telemedicine Association Conference 2014

United Health Group CEO Hemsley runs one of the world’s largest health insurance companies, employing more than 133,000 people worldwide, in charge of providing insurance to some 70 million people. The United Health Group holds dozens of patents on data analytics, and has a strong interest in telemedicine, Hemsley said.

Going forward, Hemsley said his company would apply those analytics capabilities to study patient claim data to determine where there might be opportunities to intervene with a patient earlier, to improve quality of care for the patient while reducing overall costs.

The Defense Department’s Woodson described the challenge of providing healthcare to a global military force. Dr. Woodson said he believed that telehealth would serve as a strategic enabler of global health engagement.

At ATA, Avaya showcased its video collaboration solutions–focusing on Avaya Scopia—notably how the software can integrate with telemedicine cart providers such as Enovate and remote units, like GlobalMed’s Transportable Exam Station.

We also showed off Avaya One-Touch Video, demonstrating how video could be used to connect a patient with a pool of resources virtually. Avaya also showcased its healthcare-focused proactive outbound solutions, which doctors use to gather information from a patient after an office visit, using voice, email or SMS.

Learn more about the American Telemedicine Association by visiting their web site:

To learn more about Avaya’s products and solutions for the healthcare industry, please visit our Health Care page to learn more.

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Next-Generation Retail Insights from the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2015

Every year in January for the past century, tens of thousands of retailers and industry representatives converge in chilly (okay, really freezing cold) New York City for the National Retail Federation Big Show. For 4 days, NRF brings together retailers and partners in the retail ecosystem to discuss standards, best practices and latest technologies and research.

It is also a showcase for several key NRF initiatives:

  • The Retail Across America program: A program that highlights the retail industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy, in terms of employment and business.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show
  • Keynotes from dignitaries like ex-Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke on handling of the financial crisis, and a round table discussion from executives from NFL, NBA, NHL, WTA and the German National Team discussing how sports fan marketing can be applicable to retailers.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show
    National Retail Federation Big Show 2015

  • Expo halls and sessions featuring speakers and retailers discussing technology and best practices for retailers.
National Retail Federation Big Show 2015

I spent 3 days at the event and came away with the following observations:

  • Omnichannel customer engagement is a reality
    The shoppers have spoken: We want to browse, shop and get our questions answered anytime, anywhere, in-person or online, on any device, and at our convenience. Retailers need to invest in the process, the people and technology to sell across all channels. It isn’t about “showrooming” or “webrooming,” it’s about shopping.
  • Integrating Web-like experiences in stores
    Customers are interested in replicating the types of experiences they get online in-store. We saw a number of innovative examples, like the Rebecca Minkoff showcase on eBay, and Scala’s digital signage powered by physical sensors in a sneaker display. As shoppers are more comfortable with technology, retailers continue to experiment with technology-driven store experiences.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show 2015
  • Mobility and wireless are king
    The wireless experience now acts as the shopper’s “fifth sense.” While retailers are experienced with manipulating sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, the WiFi experience acts like the consumer’s fifth sense. WiFi is now a crucial piece of the shopping experience, whether it’s through engaging consumers on their mobile devices, giving tablets to employees, or powering mobile checkout and self-service kiosks.
  • Reporting and metrics capabilities continue to grow
    I think the term “big data” is overused. For the past 100 years, retailers have been using detailed reporting to run their businesses. The only difference is that now, the amount of actionable data is hundreds of times more detailed and powerful. From social media data to location data, Web browsing histories, to location heat maps, there is no shortage of new data available to retailers. The key going forward will be to turn these individual data points into actionable intelligence, to increase revenue or operational efficiencies.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show 2015
  • How to fill an auditorium for an 8:30 a.m. keynote
    Donuts. Lots and lots of donuts and coffee. There must have been 20+ staff passing out Krispy Crème in 3 lines as people entered the auditorium for the morning keynote. Great logistics lesson from NRF for any other events in the future. Congrats!

For more information on the National Retail Federation Big Show, please visit

The New Era of Engagement – A Day in Life of an Online Shopper

At the recent Avaya Engages Silicon Valley event, Avaya announced a number of initiatives, including our new engagement strategy, and technologies such as Avaya Engagement Development Platform and Avaya Agent for Chrome.

Avaya Engages Silicon Valley

I would like to share with you the story line for one of the demonstrations featured during the event, the Day in the Life of the Online Shopper. Following the demo, we received a lot of positive feedback on social media, since it featured many of the technologies announced at the event.

Imagine you are a shopper looking for a pair of bootcut jeans. If you had questions about the pants, you could go to the store and have an associate answer your questions, measure and fit you, and complete the transaction.

Now imagine taking that same scenario online. Retailers interested in replicating the high-touch customer experience equip their associates with video so they can help customers through the computer, answering your questions, sharing their screen and helping you complete your purchase.

That exact scenario can now be accomplished with Avaya Engagement Development Platform Snap-Ins like WebRTC, Work Assignment, Context Store, Real-Time Speech Analytics, and the new Avaya Agent for Chrome.

To see this solution in action, please contact your local Avaya representative to arrange a personal demo.

For a deeper dive into the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, read Mark Fletcher’s interview with Gary Barnett, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Engagement Solutions at Avaya.

Marine Corps Marathon Races to the Finish Line

An estimated 30,000 marathoners from 50 countries took to the streets of our nation’s capitol Saturday for the 39th annual Marine Corps Marathon. So did 120,000 spectators who were there to cheer them on and enjoy a gorgeous fall day.

They lined a route that wound past a host of scenic monuments and historic sites – from the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall to the Arlington National Cemetery.

Avaya Government Solutions was out in full force and proud to be a sponsor. We staffed water stations along the 26.2-mile course and even fielded our own team of runners.

Retired Marine and Medal of Honor winner Kyle Carpenter kicked things off by parachuting to the starting line carrying a 7,800-square-foot flag you could see from miles away. He shed his flight suit and then ran the race. That’s quite the feat, considering the severe injuries he suffered just four years ago diving onto a grenade to save a fellow Marine.

There were dozens of other inspiring stories around every turn – from the disabled vet who lost his legs and ‘ran’ the marathon on a hand-propelled skateboard, to the mother of a severely wounded Marine who competed to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund benefiting wounded warriors.

Those kinds of heroic stories have helped to make the event one of the largest marathons in the world. It has come to be known as the “People’s Marathon” since no prize money is awarded. Instead, runners compete for bragging rights and the love of the race.

And speaking of bragging rights… two Army runners took top honors this year, an outcome I’m certain will ratchet up rivalry among the services for years to come. Army Spec. Samuel Kosgei placed first in the men’s division, while Army Captain Meghan Curran led the women’s division. Congratulations to all!

For a closer look at the action: