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mHealth Survey: Providers Are Slowly Embracing the Value of Video

Streaming video is making its mark in healthcare - but slowly. A new survey suggests providers are slow to recognize the value of the mHealth service in terms of care collaboration and reduced travel.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- With the advent of mobile devices in the healthcare space, providers are using streaming video in a number of different ways to improve care coordination and patient engagement while reducing healthcare costs.

A new survey, however, wonders if providers know how to measure the ROI of the mobile health communications platform.

According to a report from Wainhouse Research, 89 percent of the 184 providers surveyed describe streaming video “as an effective tool for communicating work-related information.” And 75 percent said their organization should be doing more with mHealth technology.

But when asked to explain why streaming video should be deployed, only 59 percent rated productivity as a key metric and 54 percent cited reduced travel costs.

“This is an industry in which organizations are busy communicating and training to address the change taking place in a compliance-oriented environment,” Wainhouse senior analyst Alan D. Greenberg said in remarks accompanying the study, Prescribing New Solutions for Communications in Healthcare, conducted in a partnership with Sonic Foundry. “The magic of streaming and webcasting solutions is that they blend content capture tools with delivery systems to deliver training and events, real-time and on-demand.”

Health systems and telehealth vendors have long considered video to be the linchpin of a virtual visit platform, giving providers a chance to visit patients in other locations – the home, the office, a remote clinic, even another part of the hospital. In their study, Greenberg and fellow Wainhouse senior analyst Steve Vonder Haar say administrators are only slowly catching on to the value of streaming video as a communications platform, and 11 percent of those surveyed are ignoring the technology altogether.

The report cites five examples of the technology in use.

Indiana-based St. Vincent-Evansville, for example, has been using a video platform since 2007 to deliver medical education, town hall meetings, leadership outreach and even conduct grand rounds at more than 75 clinics and physician offices in the Ascension network.

Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic, meanwhile, has more than 1,200 educations and training videos available on demand for staff training, continuing medical education and grand rounds. And Michigan Public Health uses streaming video to promote health and well-being throughout the state. Finally, GE Healthcare uses streaming video in its Invenia Automated Breast Ultrasound System to connect clinicians using the platform with peers and specialists around the world.

Other examples include Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System, which first used a Stratus Video platform to help connect patients not familiar with English to translation services and is now finding new uses for the technology.

“We’re going beyond the expectations we had for [services like] Skype and Facetime,” Janet F. Rushing, RN, MSN, systems director for the eICU program at Geisinger’s Center for Telehealth, said during the American Telemedicine Association conference earlier this year in Orlando. “This really is a simple piece of technology that we can use to connect people to each other.”

Also at the ATA conference, American Well announced its intention to include its AmWell telehealth servicer in a streaming video platform developed by Vidyo on new Galaxy 8 smatrphones.

“It’s all about fitting communication into [the provider’s] workflow,” said Mark Noble, vice president of strategic marketing for Vidyo. “And now doctors are thinking differently about how they can communicate.”

The take-away from the Wainhouse study may be that healthcare providers understand what a video platform can do – they just haven’t yet figured out how to measure its value. And if a hospital can’t translate improved communications and education and reduced travel costs for employees, it stands to have a hard time making the service sustainable.

Greenberg suggests providers look at the bigger picture.

“The improvements possible in both training and organizational processes impact the entire healthcare delivery ecosystem, leading to healthcare workers who are better educated about the latest research, regulations, products and procedures,” he said. “This is essential in today’s highly-charged, rapidly evolving healthcare industry, and patients ultimately are the beneficiaries because they receive better care.” 

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