Why Healthcare Providers Need to Deliver Uber-Like Service

I have a confession to make: I’ve never used Uber. Personally, I like to order my taxis the old fashioned way – by calling the local service on my smartphone and paying via credit card. I know, so 2009.

But while seemingly all my friends are now Uber converts, I’ve yet to download the app, because I know it would be used once, or never, and then just sit on my phone. While there are now literally millions of apps available to us, not many of them actually get used. According to data from Nielsen, the average U.S. smartphone user accesses less than 30 apps per month, with 70 percent of total app usage coming from the top 200 apps.

So, which app would get my vote? A recent unfortunate event has made up my mind for me. The event was my son breaking his arm, and the dream app for me would be one that simplified my healthcare journey.

That dream healthcare smartphone app is yet to be created. After we rushed my son to the emergency room, we had to present his insurance card, answer questions about his previous medical history, any allergies to medication, list his emergency contacts and so on, all before he could be admitted to see a physician. By the time he did actually see a doctor, he was in so much pain his screams echoed through the hospital, and I was in tears.

Even worse, when we got to the operating room, the doctor went through the same list of questions. Fast forward another few hours and my son has now been transferred to a hospital room for two days of observation. With each doctor and nurse on duty, most of the questions asked before are asked again.

Now, if I had my dream app available, we would have clicked a single button to instantly talk to emergency responders, who could access my son’s up-to-date medical and healthcare profile. My phone could be geolocated and an ambulance dispatched, with skilled medical staff available who could relay information about my son’s condition to physicians while en route to the hospital. That information might prompt the hospital to make an emergency room available and prep the surgical team for an immediate operation–with the entire procedure being completed in a few hours, and questions restricted to immediate medical issues.

Admittedly, this is expecting a lot from one app: Uber doesn’t especially care about what happens to you once you reach your destination, after all. Is it too much to expect our healthcare providers to focus on providing a seamless experience for their users? The ordeal I suffered with my son recently was made worse because the hospital hadn’t done enough to ensure that I wasn’t frustrated as I progressed through the system, and to link its various points of contact… it lacked an omnichannel customer experience.

This seamless experience in healthcare is what each one of us should expect and healthcare providers should aspire to deliver. We take for granted that when we use Uber, we are going to get a reliable and safe journey that will get us to where we want to be. In the future, healthcare providers that don’t deliver the best possible experience to their customers are going to find themselves left behind by those providers who do.

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A totally new way to approach customers—and a million reasons to do so

Last month, Laurent Philonenko wrote about some of the exciting work being done with the Avaya Breeze™ Platform, noting that many of our 2016 DevConnect Excellence Award winners were making the creation of Avaya Snap-ins a center point of their strategies.

There is perhaps no better proof point for this than the efforts of Engelbart Software GmbH, our 2016 DevConnect Partner of the Year.

DevConnect business development manager Bill Petty recently sat down with Dirk Engelbart, founder and owner of Engelbart Software, as part of our new DevConnect 8-and-Out podcast series, and talked about their experiences with Avaya Breeze. Avaya Breeze represents “a totally new way to approach customers,” according to Dirk.

In the interview, Dirk speaks directly to the opportunities his company is able to pursue through Avaya Breeze, with “millions of use cases” solvable at his fingertips through Avaya Breeze. His examples, including a manufacturing-related solution to enable warehouse workers to reach suppliers by mapping part numbers via SAP integration, clearly demonstrate the power of this platform.

But most impressive is his story of delivering a deal-winning proof-of-concept implementation in less than two days. This isn’t just a mockup, or some fancy slideware that shows what could be done, but rather a demonstrable, tangible example of how it is actually implemented.

We’ve been hearing this speed-to-market feedback from Avaya customers and partners alike, as we’ve been running bootcamps and training programs on Avaya Breeze and related tools like Avaya Engagement Designer. Avaya Breeze simply makes it easy and quick to create solutions that, using more traditional CTI methods, would have taken weeks to months to complete.

So grab a cup of coffee/soda/tea, and have a listen to what Dirk has to say about Avaya Breeze and why Engelbart has shifted all of their development focus towards leveraging Avaya Breeze.

How Enterprise Virtualization Will Save Your Business in the Era of IoT

Having a backyard full of trees is quite therapeutic during a marathon day of conference calls, but it also comes with a fair share of maintenance: picking up the fallen limbs from the elms, keeping the invasive cedars from choking out other species, and trimming up the oaks to keep them healthy and the fireplace burning through the winter. On those maintenance days, it’s easy to get obsessed with a tree or set of trees that are causing a problem … say, dropping large limbs dangerously close to your daughters’ trampoline. When you’re fixing up your backyard, one problem – one tree – at a time, the solution to the problem at hand often fails to take into account the needs of the larger ecosystem. Unfortunately, for many networking professionals, every day feels like a maintenance day.

We see problems with mobility and service chaining in and across data centers. We see problems with cost and reliability in the WAN. We see problems with scalability and security in the campus. In a nutshell, we see problems. Fortunately, for every problem, there’s a good ol’ fashioned snake oil salesman. We’re inundated with the latest and greatest technologies to solve our woes … even some we didn’t know we had.

The problem is that we’re putting Band-Aids on bullet holes. The bleeding stops, but the real problem is still lurking beneath the surface. It’s not that these fixes are bad. The problem is that they’re being positioned as a cure-all instead of simply tools to address localized side effects of the problem.

The problem is broader. The data center exists to host applications. Those applications exist to enable users. The WAN exists to connect the data center to the campus, which exists for the users. And, of course, the users exist to run the business.

Since the business is the thing we’re looking to keep alive and thriving, those users need to be productive. That means that they need fast, efficient access to the applications that enable their jobs. So, those problems we rattled off earlier are really just symptoms that have emerged as we tried to create enterprise services across silos of control.

If we want to remove the bullet and save the patient, we must recognize the need for end-to-end services and look holistically at Enterprise Virtualization methods that will securely extend services from user to application at scale with on-demand mobility and business continuity. Otherwise, the problem is only going to get worse.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming an ever-increasing reality in the enterprise, the need for services from device to application is going to multiply exponentially. Without Enterprise Virtualization, the burden on IT to deal with every little problem across the islands of campus, WAN and data center will be overwhelming. They simply won’t be able to keep pace, and, as a result, neither will the business. The users will be limited and become frustrated, and productivity will suffer in turn. It’s a bleak picture, but it doesn’t have to be.

Enterprise Virtualization provides a number of advantages that have long been unattainable to the general enterprise. While we’ve managed to achieve “micro-segmentation” down to the virtual machine layer for applications, the very same data is set free at the data center doors and left vulnerable in the less secure world beyond.

Enterprise Virtualization enables you to extend the segmentation in the data center to the very edges of the network, where the data is consumed by users. Not only can you extend isolation, you can also view it as one contiguous service from server node to user node.

All of the tools available for measuring quality and performance have a clear view from end-to-end, rather than requiring additional tools to aggregate and correlate metrics across the three different islands of technology. Not to mention, Enterprise Virtualization allows you to significantly reduce the number of touch points while provisioning and troubleshooting, thus minimizing the likelihood of down time due to human error.

Just like that limb-dropping elm can avoid the chainsaw, your enterprise can avoid being cut down in its prime. You see, it was a problem in the ecosystem that would have eventually killed all the trees through their intertwined root systems. It was lurking beneath the surface, but the arborist took a step back to see the whole forest, and then recognized and treated the real issue. Likewise, you need to make sure that someone is looking at your forest of IT challenges … not just banging their head on a single tree.

Why Failure is More Important than Success

Businesses, leaders and entrepreneurs have long been obsessed with success.

Billions of dollars are made from how-to books, speeches and guides–all glorifying a no-fail path. For a long time, failure was considered the worst of F-words to a company, and “failure is not an option” could be heard echoing down the hallways of the enterprise.

That’s what makes the latest business trend all the more fascinating.

The spotlight that used to shine on success has shifted to success’ evil twin sister… failure. Now, not only is failure an option, it’s the option of choice − celebrated, embraced, even encouraged.

Why Fail Now

“Fail often, fail fast” is likely now the second-most repeated mantra in Silicon Valley (just behind Steve Jobs’ “stay hungry, stay foolish”).

Granted, the most astute visionaries have long understood the importance of failure. Take Thomas Edison, who tried more than 9,000 designs before coming up with a working version of the lightbulb, or Dr. Seuss, whose first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.

Nowadays, the stigma around failure has lessened, and the best business leaders are becoming more and more comfortable with failure:

  • Nine out of ten startups fail, according to Forbes.
  • Using agile software development practices, many engineers quite literally “sprint” toward failure.
  • And live events like FailCon and Startup Funeral celebrate tech world failures.

But simply failing frequently is a failure in itself.

In the best fashion of failure, every misstep is considered a learning opportunity, a way to understand how to effectively translate failing into a future success:

  • The 10 percent of startups that succeed do so because they failed behind the scenes many times, in smaller ways, before − not after − launch, and grew better.
  • Agile development is often considered the new essential for Web and mobile app development, precisely because it encourages quick experiments, failure and, most importantly, the adaptations necessary to achieve success. Agile software development “sprints” help the team find out if there are problems at an accelerated pace and make adjustments as needed. The sooner failures are found, the less time – and money – is wasted.
  • Conferences that celebrate failure do so to recast the notion of failure and encourage knowledge sharing. Events like FailCon and Startup Funeral show the tech world that it doesn’t need to bury its failures silently; instead, it should eulogize them, learn from them and fail better next time.

Failing Smarter

The challenge for leaders is just that: failing smart. The best business decision makers will harness failure. They’ll recognize that there is no point in failing (whether it be often, small, fast, forward or any which way), if you fail to learn.

Businesses are steadily moving into a software-only world, and software development kits give companies the tools to quickly write apps to solve fundamental business pain points. Rather than paying a vendor millions of dollars to stand up massive, proprietary software projects, small teams can build apps quickly, test them with users, measure success and iterate on what they’ve learned.

That’s the opportunity inherent in Avaya Engagement Development Platform, the software development kit that embeds business communications in virtually any workflow automation app.

Consider these use cases:

  • A large, nationally-recognized university launched a parking payments app that will send a text message to the student when his or her parking is about to expire. Engagement Development Platform was embedded inside, and powered the text message.
  • A large sales team had a challenge—their salespeople would get calls from numbers they hadn’t saved on their smartphones. The salespeople would pick up the phone cold, and spend the first 15 seconds trying to figure out who was calling them, and why. Engagement Development Platform linked those incoming calls with the company’s cloud-based CRM system, pushing relevant customer information to the salesperson. Now, they could pick up the phone with a warm greeting and the context they needed to be successful.
  • Avaya recently won a Thomas Edison Patent Award for Innovation for an application that permanently eliminates the need to dial long strings of numbers to get into a conference call. That capability is currently available inside Engagement Development Platform as a “Snap-in”—a modular, reusable snippet of code that’s easy to embed in any app.

Engagement Development Platform is simple, powerful and automatically preconfigured for scalability, enabling faster, more flexible development cycles.

That flexibility empowers our customers — from universities to approximately 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies — to fail forward quickly. Engagement Development Platform shortens time-to-innovation and time-to-business, allowing Avaya to act as a catalyst to its customers’ success.