Avaya's Futuristic Vision for Healthcare: Telemedicine, Doctor-to-Doctor Texting, Better Customer Service

Avaya has traditionally built technology that helps people communicate better with one another. Not surprisingly, that technology is found in the world’s largest contact centers, and on the desks (and desktops) of millions of knowledge workers.

It’s also landing in hospitals, in the form of video conferencing, messaging apps and network-based communication. I recently sat down with Molly True, who works on Avaya’s healthcare team to talk about what our company is doing in this space.

Molly True, Avaya

Fletch: Hey, Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network. We’re talking with Molly True, who is a Marketing Manager for the healthcare industry here at Avaya. Welcome to Tech Talk, on the Avaya Podcast Network.

Molly True: Thanks, Fletch. Glad to be here.

Fletch: You were recently down at the HIMSS show in Orlando. What is HIMSS? What’s that stand for?

Molly True: It stands for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Fletch: Great. That’s about everybody who does everything for the healthcare industry. So, there are medical suppliers, but also communications and technology people there too, right?

Molly True: Yes.

Fletch: Anybody who has anything to do with the healthcare industry is going to go down to this show. That’s like the Enterprise Connect for the healthcare industry.

Molly True: Yes, basically that’s what it is.

Fletch: Obviously, Avaya had a booth there and we were showing a bunch of stuff. What did we have on display in our particular booth?

Molly True: What we had on display was, first, there is an application that we built called Mobile Activity Assistant. It provides secure messaging and prioritization for clinicians–so nurses, doctors–so they can do messaging using the enterprise network.

We also had our Scopia solutions there. We’ve partnered with telemedicine cart providers, as well as what they call a “suitcase” for providing remote or home care, and embedded in the solutions are the Avaya Scopia software.

We also shared our basically enterprise collaboration solutions, including our Avaya one-X Communicator. We also showed AvayaLive Engage.

We showed some information about Avaya Fabric Connect, because we’ve actually been making some inroads with healthcare customers with our networking solutions, because healthcare organizations– even though you wouldn’t think about it–accept credit cards just like a financial institution does, so they have to subscribe to the payment regulations.

Actually, the healthcare organizations have been having some issues with that, and so our Fabric Connect solutions have been helping a lot with that compliance.

Related article: HIMSS 2014: A Live Look from the Show Floor

Fletch: The healthcare industry really is a unique one because they touch a lot of the things that we normally deal with in normal commercial accounts, and really, we solved a lot of those problems for our normal enterprise commercial customers, and it’s just drawing that into the healthcare space, and making the business case or use case applicable to their specific marketplace, right?

Molly True: Exactly. The big thing in healthcare too is that they are definitely wrapped up, from a U.S. perspective, in the requirements around the EMR, electronic medical record, deployments and completing their stage one requirements, and meeting their stage two requirement.

Use cases where we can actually integrate with any of those systems are definitely useful, because there’s been a lot of investment dollars on their EMR deployment.

Fletch: Telemedicine has been around for a long time and people have been taking medical data from instruments and so forth, and transmitting that remotely for quite some time.

I think the video aspect in telemedicine is really probably something that’s just coming out. A product like Scopia that’s really easy to deploy into the field, where you don’t need equipment or special software at the remote site. That’s got to really be making a huge difference for telemedicine.

Molly True: Yeah. It’s basically being able to see what they see.

Sometimes the use case is not necessarily for diagnosis, but for somebody that is out at the remote location to be able to show the doctor … what they’re seeing.

That actually has use cases in collaborating within the care team as well, because you may have a doctor on one side of the city and another specialist on the other side of the city who needs to consult on the same customer case. Being able to see what they’re seeing, and everybody looking at the same test results, can be really powerful.

Fletch: I would think that looking at somebody, and if you’ve never video conferenced before, you might not realize this right away, but if you have video conferenced, you realize, it’s the body language, the facial expressions, these are all really important things that add to the context of a conversation.

A simple question like, “How much pain are you in?” but seeing someone on video could totally make that a totally different answer for a perceived answer than, “No, no. I am fine.”

“Well, it doesn’t look like you’re fine.”

Molly True: Exactly. You can better judge that person and what kind of pain they’re in if you can see them.

Fletch: Or someone says, “It’s just a small cut.”

“Well, it looks like it’s about an 8-inch cut from here, so I think you need to get to the hospital.”

Again, video is probably one of the most revolutionary things–creating a dynamic change in the way that we communicate for a long, long time. As it becomes more available on more and more devices, the use cases are coming out of the woodwork and when you get into a specialty field, that’s really visually-related like healthcare, I think the use cases really depend on how much you can dream.

I heard about the “suitcase” last year. I think one of the Avaya award winners was a doctor that took Scopia into the jungle for medical analysis of a patient.

Molly True: Exactly. That’s actually one of the pictures we put up on our new Avaya Healthcare landing page, because it’s a powerful picture, being able to service someone, and do tests, and send the results back from a remote location like that.

Fletch: That’s great. And again, people may not think of Avaya as a healthcare provider company, but in the healthcare market, communications is probably one of their key things, whether it is radio interoperability with the telephone system or multimedia collaborative conferencing, they’ve got every single need that a normal enterprise has.

It’s good to see that Avaya takes a part of that by attending HIMSS. I hear you’ve got a ton of pictures that you’re going to be posting.

Molly True: Yes, I do, but one other thing I wanted to mention to you.

Avaya obviously has relevance in the contact center space. … As you were saying before, you may not actually think of contact centers when you think of healthcare, but if you think of all the nurse lines, they may not be managed like a contact center today, but they could be better manage the customer experience if you manage them like a contact center.

Appointment systems, where you call in and you get someone to do appointments: If they were managed more like a contact center, you could actually manage that customer experience better.

Fletch: Yeah, it’s all about managing multi-model communications with people who need assistance and people that can provide the assistance.

Molly True: Exactly.

Fletch: I really hope you’ll check back with us as the year goes on, Molly, because I am sure we’re going to be making a lot of strides in the healthcare sector. We could start a whole new series, the “True” Stuff about Healthcare, with Molly True.

Molly True: Great. Thanks so much.

Fletch: Great. We’re talking with Molly True who is the Healthcare Marketing Manager here at Avaya talking about HIMSS.

Want more technology, news and information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN. There, you will find additional podcasts from industry events, such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya Connected blog on E911. I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or, if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉 Until next week. . . dial carefully.

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The Top 3 Advantages of Video Communications in Today's Workplace

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. After joining Avaya and hiring a dozen people to work for me around the world, I would argue that a video is worth a million in the workplace.

According to a research report by Transparency Market Research, the video conferencing market is expected to reach $6.4 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.4 percent. It’s no wonder the market is expanding. Communicating with co-workers via video offers three major advantages:

#3: Authentic Engagement

I’ve worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years with people in offices across North America and around the world. Although telephony and e-mail started out as the preferred way to communicate, instant messaging became more common and convenient over time.

However, all three forms of communications–while often the best alternative to face-to-face interaction–do not provide a natural experience. People can sound distant and cold on the phone or in an e-mail. Even a conversation with a high-energy person can oscillate between energetic vocal stimulation and silence. With video communications, everything changes. The ability to see one another allows participants to have a conversation that feels more authentic.

#2 It’s Easy to Use

In the past, participating in a video conference involved scheduling the event days ahead of time and going to a specially-equipped room at the appointed hour. After spending several minutes entering crazy codes, participants would finally see a room full of people on the screen, often experiencing questionable video quality. Going through that exercise for just one person was virtually unheard of.

Today, with the video experience moving to individual consumers, whether via smartphones or laptop computers using Facebook, Skype or Google+, one-on-one hangouts have become commonplace. And they can all be done with the click of a button. The video quality on a consumer video call may only be satisfactory, but simplicity always wins over functionality. People will tolerate imperfect video quality if it is easy to use.

This is exactly what is happening in the workplace. Establishing a video session in the office is as simple as clicking on a link in a calendar meeting. That same meeting can be held on the smartphone or tablet, and the image quality is remarkable. The complexity of the past has been replaced by the simplicity of the present.

#1 The Ability to Read Non-Verbal Cues

The most important advantage of video communications in business discussions is the ability to pick up on non-verbal communications. Facial expressions can be read. Smiles can be seen. Eyes looking with disbelief are apparent. Talking to someone face to face via video allows participants to react to one another’s body language, vocal patterns and many other subconscious cues they likely are not even aware of.

After using video for 6 months with a team of people in 9 different time zones, I have completely changed the way I work. The phone looks so cold, and voices on the speakerphone seem so distant. I never would have believed it, but I now wonder how I ever worked without video communications before.

Let me know about your experiences with video communications in today’s workplace.

The Key to Driving Actionable and Profitable Business Outcomes with Video

Nearly every business today has some form of video capability for communicating and collaborating. Once an expensive, standalone solution used exclusively by higher-ups, video has evolved into a mainstream form of communication thanks to video integration as part of many company-wide unified communications (UC) deployments.

In fact, videoconferencing and collaboration applications showed the strongest growth among all UC apps in 2014, according to a study conducted by Infonetics Research. An overwhelming 88 percent of respondents said they plan to add videoconferencing to their UC architecture by early 2015.

With network connectivity solutions like fiber increasingly dropping in price, businesses can more easily afford the bandwidth to support video, which is another factor increasing its usage.

With the global enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence market reaching $752 million last year, it’s clear that business leaders are sold on the technology’s potential to drive internal and external communications and collaboration as well as overall revenue generation.

Video has the power to dynamically change the way global and national teams engage across time zones and environments. So why do so many video-enabled organizations still collaborate using slower, archaic methods like phone and email?

While it’s true that video can transform enterprise communications and drive actionable business outcomes, it’s also true that many executives keep video in a technology silo completely unrelated to their overall business value. Video may have been initially deployed as an enticing tool for employees, customers, partners and key stakeholders but since there were no business outcomes identified for its use, the technology can get relegated to a corner to collect dust.

For the sake of your organizational productivity and engagement (as well as profit), this needs to change.

Executives should make video a seamlessly-integrated part of their day-to-day business communications and collaboration, and this requires them to re-evaluate the state of their organization. They must reassess their current processes, for example, as well as their business value and their workforce. It’s an introspective process that will likely lead to fundamental organizational shifts.

To begin this process of self-assessment, consider things first from a cultural perspective. Video can change the entire DNA of your workforce for the better if approached correctly.

The question among execs, then, seems to be how to make video culturally acceptable. Consider whether your workforce is comfortable with communicating using video. This will be largely determined by the generational ratio of your employee base. If your workforce is comprised of Generation Yers (ages 25-35), then this is likely something they will want–Millennials are defined by their desire to work in collaborative, team-based environments.

Conversely, non-tech savvy workers, such as the Baby Boom generation (ages 51-69), may find video difficult to adopt.

If you’re unsure where to start but know that you want and need to effectively implement change, consider integrating video solutions such as Avaya Scopia within specific workgroups that are looking to become more engaged. These trailblazers will serve as great examples for the workers who choose to follow.

Once you have surveyed the state of your workforce, you must then determine what purpose video will serve within your organization.

Just like any other technological investment, you must identify the desired business outcomes of video usage to see optimal success, adoption rates and ROI. If you have video but haven’t identified where it is going to live or how it will function within your organization, you will experience low adoption. It’s as simple as that.

Business leaders must ask themselves what role video will specifically play in business processes, workflows and day-to-day tasks  to yield the most immersive user experience possible.

That is ultimately a question only the executive can answer. However, I know that without definitively outlining the business outcomes, companies will be plagued by a high-quality video solution sitting in a silo and experiencing a low take-up rate.

So, let’s say you have collective buy-in from employees and have identified your business outcomes. The next logical step involves making video an embedded part of day-to-day communications.

If video is not seamlessly and intuitively part of your day-to-day applications and workflows then it will be extremely difficult for employees to adopt, as well as difficult for you to realize your business outcomes.

By embedding video within a portal or application, for instance, or embedding video across departments to cross-communicate, you will experience massive adoption, increase your ROI and, best of all, optimize the way your employees work.

With video being part of an application and intrinsically available company-wide, marketing can collaborate in real-time on a drip campaign, sales can have an ad hoc meeting to discuss contract changes, or a manager can communicate with a developer to receive by-the-hour updates. A supplier or customer can even be added to the mix to provide immediate feedback, generating another perspective on the development to drive greater productivity.

Embedding video into everyday business workflows is going to dynamically change the way businesses operate. If executives don’t look at embracing video or embedding it into daily workflows, they are going to miss a huge opportunity to create better branding for themselves. They will be missing an opportunity to be immersive and innovative, dynamically changing the DNA of their business.

I’d be willing to bet that many of your competitors will not make the same mistake. As such, they will be able to surge ahead in critical areas such as innovation, communication and business execution. So, after reading this, what do you plan to do to begin optimizing video within your enterprise?

The Top 5 New Capabilities We’re Announcing Today in Avaya Scopia Video Conferencing

Video conferencing got a tremendous boost when soft clients on mobile devices, laptops and PCs made it more accessible to more employees. Simplicity of use and integration with other common applications made it possible to have full, multimedia communications available through one or two clicks.

At Avaya, we’re now averaging more than 65,000 video meetings per month involving more than 250,000 participants. Employees, customers, partners and suppliers have become so acclimated to the rich collaboration experience of using video meetings that they often tell us that something feels missing in audio-only conferences.

That said, there’s still room for ease-of-use improvements, to better allow discussions and information-sharing to flow naturally.

It is our firm belief that the best technology is that which is invisible–that doesn’t create barriers to achieving deeper relationships, greater understanding and higher levels of productivity. We spend a lot of time examining the user experience and how we can improve it.

As heavy users of video conferencing, Avaya has been our own best subject. The new and enhanced capabilities we’ve incorporated into our team engagement portfolio and Avaya Scopia video reflect this study and our effort. For a flavor of what you can get now, here are five of the new capabilities you can look for with Avaya Scopia video:

  1. Wireless Presentation

We’ve all been there: It’s your turn to present your slides in the conference room. You first have to find the wires to connect your laptop to the video conferencing system–often, you need to pull it out of your colleague’s laptop who just presented–test that it projects on the display and to the other participants, and hope for the best.

Avaya Scopia users now have the ability to wirelessly present from their laptop–either PC or Mac–with Avaya Screen Link.

Just enter a conference room that has a Scopia room system and your laptop will automatically pair with the system using sonic recognition technology.

Anyone can present in a video meeting directly from their laptop without the need to find and plug in clumsy wires, configure their PC’s video output resolution, and fumble with the proper video out key sequence on their PC. Simply walk into a Scopia-enabled video meeting room, and your presentation can be transmitted wirelessly from your desktop to the Scopia room system.

Oh, and this capability exists whether you are in a video conference or not. Think of the value of being able to use high-resolution displays to show content in a conference room–to either the people sitting in the room with you or to everyone on a video call. Simple. And pretty cool.

  1. Mobile Meeting Continuity

Here’s another all-too-common video conferencing scenario: It’s your first meeting of the day, so you dial in on your smartphone while driving to the office. When you arrive at the conference room, you have to get off the call on your smartphone, search for the dial-in information and manually connect to the same meeting using the room system.

With Avaya Mobile Link, your mobile device automatically pairs and transfers the meeting to the Scopia room system, allowing you to enjoy the room system’s crystal-clear audio, HD camera and large display.

  1. Full HD at the Desktop

Avaya prides itself on a ‘mobile first’ design, providing solutions that ensure the highest degree of collaboration and engagement to connect a growingly dispersed and global work team regardless of their location.

We’ve simplified and enhanced BYOD complexity. Using the smart protocols already built into Scopia, people on their laptops, PC tablets, and desktops can participate with full 1080p HD video. That quality was previously only available on room systems.

This delivers an exceptional conferencing experience and enables a very natural and highly productive virtual meeting.

  1. Asset Creation

Recording video meetings can be really helpful, particularly for people who weren’t able to attend the meeting live.

We’ve dramatically enhanced our streaming and recording capabilities, to enable users to easily broadcast video meetings to larger audiences and to record in full HD video.

This allows the meeting host to create valuable assets for future reference after the video meeting. Finding and playing back that recorded session is simple and intuitive. If you’ve used YouTube, you will know how to use our new playback system.

  1. Extreme Network Efficiency

The new Scopia XT7100, our high-end, flagship room system, now incorporates H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (or HEVC), the industry’s most advanced video compression technology available today.

One of the big benefits of H.265 is that it doubles the video compression efficiency currently available. Our customers can now enjoy full HD video with half the bandwidth required. That’s on top of our Scalable Video Coding (SVC) technology, designed for error resiliency on networks that experience packet loss, such as the public Internet.

Enhancements like these come straight from customer and partner input, along with our own experience using Scopia. Everything we’re announcing today is designed to help our customers ensure that the video conferencing experience is about the objectives of the meeting and not about the tools to make it happen.

All of these recent enhancements to Avaya’s video solutions further extend the usability and utility of rich video collaboration. Try it out for free at www.AvayaLive.com/video.