When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Nebraska Medicine as one of the USA’s first-line leaders in the fight against Covid-19, the organisation knew it would face a deluge of enquiries at its network of nearly 40 health centres located across Omaha.
Tasked with providing urgent care for both local patients and Americans returning from China, Nebraska Medicine used the Avaya OneCloud platform to quickly develop and deploy a cloud-based conversational platform to create 24/7 support line and automatically route callers to the most relevant information or person. This enabled human agents to focus on essential calls and scale capacity according to surges in demand, all without compromising the quality of patient care. At the peak of the pandemic, Nebraska Medicine easily handled a 250 per cent increase in call volume, despite 90 per cent of its agents working off-site.
Nebraska Medicine is just one of many healthcare providers using cloud-based platforms to build composable healthcare experiences.
“True digital transformation in healthcare now means offering a connected patient experience of digital engagement across an integrated, unified digital enterprise,” says Laura Faughtenberry, senior solutions marketing manager at Avaya. “To enable this, many organisations are embracing microservices platforms and composable experiences, which make it possible to deliver new applications and features quickly and easily, even as part of relatively large and complex software suites. That’s especially important in an increasingly competitive marketplace with constantly changing regulatory requirements, government mandates, global disruptions and more.”
Avaya OneCloud is an award-winning, artificial intelligence-powered experience platform that provides the foundation for healthcare providers (and enterprises in other industry sectors) to compose new communication and collaboration experiences for patients and employees. The platform integrates with customer relationship management systems and company applications, allowing healthcare providers to automate workflows for scheduling appointments, sending reminders across various channels, managing billing, delivering personalised Covid-19 response and sharing critical personal information about medicines, test results and more to patients. In addition, the platform can be used to build AI-powered virtual agents that can recognise and interact with patients, process inputs and monitor sentiments to connect them to the information or people they need.
“We can fully customise Avaya OneCloud to suit a healthcare provider’s specific operational requirements and deliver the most effective and efficient solution,” says Faughtenberry. “As it’s a cloud-based platform, healthcare providers can scale and adapt it as their needs change, enabling them to cope with surges in demand or unforeseen emergencies. With Avaya OneCloud CPaaS, they pay based on consumption, so they’re not stuck with a complex and expensive on-premises solution that they have to keep for years to gain a return on their investment.”
Automating repetitive, low-value and time-consuming tasks offers multiple benefits for both healthcare providers and their patients. “It reduces the pressure on customer service agents, freeing them up to focus on more complex patient interactions,” says Faughtenberry. “Plus, it lowers the risk of manual errors and missed appointments, while increasing customer service cost savings. Meanwhile, patients are happier because they have 24/7 access to basic services.”
Deploying composable experiences powered by cloud, automation, AI and analytics technologies also makes it easier for healthcare providers to take a more proactive approach to patient care by improving direct communication and personalising services, thereby lowering patient attrition.
“Composable healthcare experiences can be tailored to specific patients, based on known variables including demographics, conditions, social determinants and available healthcare resources,” says Faughtenberry. “This allows healthcare organisations to deliver the right message to the right patient at the right time using the right channel.”
Many healthcare providers now recognise the benefits of the composable healthcare model. However, migrating from existing on-premises telephony solutions to a cloud-based infrastructure requires a monumental leap.
“It’s impractical – if not impossible – for most healthcare organisations to make a sweeping move from where they are now to this next level of cloud, data, and AI-driven patient engagement,” says Faughtenberry. “However, they need to take small steps now to add new digital engagement capabilities, integrate disparate systems, segment data, flexibly build custom services, and proactively reach out to patients.”
Implementing a platform like Avaya OneCloud enables healthcare organisations to confidently move to the cloud – whether public, private or hybrid – and introduce services that meet changing patient needs at their desired pace. “The flexible subscription model also provides cost certainty and peace of mind,” explains Faughtenberry. “In addition, Avaya OneCloud can be layered on a healthcare organisation’s existing unified communications platform, even if it is from another communications vendor. In addition, it is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant, ensuring that users meet regulatory demands.”
Faughtenberry predicts that a growing number of healthcare organisations will develop composable experiences as they continue to adapt to meet patient expectations.
“Healthcare providers have been exploring digital transformation and composable platforms for several years, but the pandemic accelerated their efforts by forcing them to quickly devise new services to continue treating patients quickly and safely,” she says. “People are also comfortable interacting with automated customer services and using video technologies now. Consequently, healthcare organisations will likely offer a mixture of automated, virtual and in-person services for patients depending on their specific needs.”
To ensure it can help healthcare providers prepare for this hybrid future, Avaya will continue enhancing its Avaya OneCloud AI-powered experience platform. In October 2021, it launched Avaya Experience Builders, an extensive global ecosystem of technology partners, developers, customers and other experts that will help enterprises to build and deliver better communication and collaboration experiences via Avaya OneCloud.
“We can connect customers with partners in our Avaya Experience Builders ecosystem to give them access to all the technical expertise, skills and resources they need to develop experiences for patients and employees,” says Faughtenberry. “They will be supported in the way that is most beneficial for them – whether they need help customising existing experiences or leveraging AI technology to self-compose their experiences. This will ensure we deliver the most effective and efficient solutions for both healthcare providers and their patients.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 21/22 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.