By Maria Lensing, Vice President Global Healthcare Solutions – AT&T Business

The Virtual Healthcare Conference took place this week in Boston. Our AT&T Healthcare team was there showing how connectivity is at the core of the healthcare digital transformation. This change is helping improve, and in some instances, save lives. 

For those of you who couldn’t be there, I want to give you a sense of the power that connectivity brings to healthcare.

Digital Hospital/Clinic

  • When you visit a hospital or clinic, you’re not at your best. You’re not feeling well. You may be a little scared and apprehensive. But imagine this…
  • You get a text alert confirming your appointment.
  • You can access an app on your smartphone that gives parking instructions. 
  • Digital signage guides you through the building.
  • At a kiosk, you sign in. It’s prepopulated with your personal and insurance information - no fumbling for cards and contact information.
  • Your health information follows you throughout your visit, and you don’t have to repeat the same information to every person you encounter. 
  • Assets, like wheelchairs, are tracked so they are readily available when you need them.
  • You’re not cut off from the outside world – you have Wi-Fi.  
  • You, your family and visitors can use your smart devices to access engaging content, meaningful interactions, and educational opportunities from virtually anywhere in the hospital through ZOTT, a cutting-edge patient experience platform.

The digital medical experience simplifies and enhances the patient journey – from check in to check out.

The Yale Global Health Leadership Institute found that health is determined by 20% genetics, 20% healthcare and 60% environment / social / behavioral. Digital transformations of healthcare centers can help improve the hospital environment and lead to positive patient outcomes.

Connected Caregiver
Readmissions to hospitals are costly. Some insurance plans won’t even fully cover them. Health system executives recognize systems will soon need to provide telehealth/virtual care/remote monitoring services.1 And the Connected Caregiver can help lower unnecessary visits to the emergency room.

Remote patient monitoring devices mean clinicians can check vital signs, ensure prescriptions are being followed and gather information in near real-time. The caregiver can also catch shifts in health and suggest corrections. This helps prevent reaching that critical point when readmission is needed.

The Connected Caregiver can also help reach those in rural and remote locations – bringing healthcare to those who typically don’t have access to a physician.

Talk about remote access… Check out what we did during Shark Week with Dictum Health. Swimming in shark-infested waters may be an extreme use case, but it proves connectivity can bring the exam room to a patient virtually anywhere.

Connected Patient

Wearable Tech and PERS (Personal Emergency Response Systems) are a growing trend.  And connectivity is bringing real value to this technology. From fitness trackers to post-operation and aging, connecting the patient enables near real-time data transfer to their doctor, caregiver or loved ones. The Connected Patient can stay healthy and stay mobile.

A great example of a connected device that’s changing lives are the Aira glasses. Those who are blind or have low vision, known as “Explorers,” can better navigate the world around them using the solution.

The connected glasses stream video of the Explorer’s surroundings to an Aira-certified agent. The Aira agent provides information about their environment – quickly and efficiently. This helps Explorers accomplish a range of tasks and activities, from navigating busy streets or airports to running a marathon or reading a bedtime story.

Let me turn your attention to FirstNet – public safety’s nationwide LTE communications platform.

FirstNet was created at public safety’s urging to improve communications for all U.S. first responders. It’s being built with AT&T, in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority – an independent authority established by Congress in 2012. FirstNet will give first responders’ communications capabilities a major boost, providing a reliable and highly secure connection to the critical information they need – when and where they need it. Connectivity is imperative during a medical emergency.

AT&T is working with providers across the healthcare industry to provide complete solutions—at the scene of a disaster, through the entire healthcare ecosystem, to recovery at home. Empowering digital healthcare by connecting caregivers and patients will help transform healthcare to human care.

I hope I’ve given you an idea of how critical a role connectivity plays throughout the continuum of care. With a more connected world, we have the chance to vastly improve patient outcomes. 

1Center for Connected Medicine – Top of Mind for Top U.S. Health Systems 2018