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Article originally written by RingCentral; an Ascenda ecosystem leading technology partner

According to Gartner, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and every other factor as the top competitive differentiator for brands.

In reality, most industries already view it as a key differentiator—and healthcare is no exception.

Good patient experience (PX) in healthcare today is more critical than ever, given several important trends impacting the industry:

  • An aging population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of baby boomers reaching age 65 is growing rapidly. With so many entering retirement age at once, healthcare organizations face pressure to deliver better care more efficiently.
  • Changing patient expectations. Complexity abounds in today’s healthcare world, leaving patients frustrated. Many expect the same level of ease and access as they have with consumer products. When they don’t get it, PX suffers.
  • The call for accountability and transparency. Today’s healthcare consumers face high-deductible health plans and increasing out-of-pocket expenses, giving rise to a greater demand for better care-quality and cost information. Providers and payers need to work together to reduce the amount of work they put on patients in both the pre- and post-care process. Improving CX can significantly reduce readmissions.
  • A focus on patient safety. Clinicians and hospitals lean on technology to help reduce manual tasks, and minimize errors and accidents. They need a better way to share information about treatment plans, as well as faster access to critical data.

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in Healthcare Makes a Big Impact

Healthcare providers today continue to grapple with very manual and inefficient communication processes. In fact, 35% of healthcare costs stem from non-patient-care activities, such as staff coordination, locating equipment, exchanging information, or seeking out input from specialists.

Providers can tackle this problem either by hiring more staff—which costs more and adds complexity—or streamlining communication between everyone involved in patient care.

Cloud-based unified communication and collaboration solutions help healthcare providers work more effectively to accelerate care delivery with faster access to the resources and information practitioners need at the point of care. In particular, UCaaS delivers the following three critical benefits for providers:

  • Immediate access to modern communication tools without significant capital overhead. Many providers want to shift to an opex model, and the cloud supports that. In the cloud, they can easily scale the solution up or down as needed, accommodate moves and new locations, and ensure compliance with industry regulations, such as HIPAA, across the organization. It also dramatically reduces management and maintenance costs, and ensures providers always have access to the most up-to-date communication technologies.
  • Optimized care coordination. Providers with multiple locations can leverage cloud services to connect to other members of the care team immediately, improving and accelerating decision-making and care delivery. Instead of using email to discuss patient care and treatment, for example, practitioners can use team collaboration channels, such as real-time messaging and video meetings, to discuss the case. Nurses, doctors, clinicians, and specialists can access these tools via an internet browser—on any device, wherever they are. They can seamlessly transition between a call, message, or meeting, share files, such as patient charts and images, and collaborate without delay—all in a completely protected HIPAA-compliant environment.
  • Improved and simplified patient engagement throughout treatment. Patients become frustrated when they can’t schedule an appointment easily or have to repeat themselves to office staff or practitioners who can’t access data and records they need. Appointment scheduling difficulties, longer patient-treatment time, and poor follow-up can lead to readmissions, costing providers money and increasing patient dissatisfaction. Providers and office staff can leverage UCaaS to eliminate scheduling difficulties, improve follow-up, and access patient information quickly and easily. Providers can also connect with patients over video meetings, and interface with patients who can’t make the trip to the clinic or hospital.