In Conversation With Ron Emerson

Ron Emerson is the Global Healthcare Lead, Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

1. How has the medical landscape transformed with regards to wellbeing and healthcare? Is a digital-first healthcare system prevailing? 

With providers now seeing more patients through telehealth since the pandemic started, many in the healthcare industry believe that telehealth has evolved more in the past two year than in the last decade. Health systems rapidly adopted new telehealth solutions or expanded their existing programs. Extending telehealth helped strengthen public health systems and improve equity in health services by reaching populations that have long been underserved or struggled with access to care. People living in remote areas, patients without means of reliable transportation or the ability to take time off work, and those with medical conditions that made it hard to visit doctors can now access quality care whenever and however it’s most convenient for them.

When it comes to hybrid healthcare, digital first does not mean digital only. Digital options, like telehealth consultations, can serve as entry points to enable faster access to care, and can make it easier for patients to attend follow-ups that do not require a physical examination. Because of the correlation between access to care and quality of care, digital components to the continuum of care are a key element to ensuring equity in healthcare.

In addition to enabling high quality care delivery, telehealth has also changed the competitive landscape for private healthcare, giving providers opportunities to provide cost-effective, convenient care to an increased number of patients. Virtual consultations have become a necessary option to enable patients to access remote care fueling a permanent transition to a hybrid model of healthcare.

We have witnessed remarkable capabilities such as deviceless screening which measure things like pulse and respiration by leveraging different technologies available on a person’s mobile phone without a monitor or medical instruments. These innovations are enabling a digital-first healthcare system where patients can experience the same quality of care from their team and manage their health from the comfort of their homes. We also see shifts in the market which align well with virtual delivery models.

2. How are collaboration platforms enabling remote healthcare?

Video plays a major role in enabling healthcare organizations to communicate and care for patients. It allows providers to reach their patients regardless of where they are, helps teams collaborate on medical innovations, and enables connections between family members, specialists, and world experts like never before.

Data shows that video-assisted virtual visits will continue in the long run: a May 2021 Qualtrics survey commissioned by Zoom shows that 45% of people surveyed in

India wanted access to healthcare both in-person and virtually moving forward. An additional 13% planned to only access health services virtually - the highest rate of any of the surveyed countries. This underscores the importance of providing telehealth options in order to reach populations who may otherwise have no access to care.

Video collaboration has become essential for providing primary and urgent care for common ailments like colds, conducting mental health appointments, treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms from home, remotely monitoring patients with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes and supporting healthy lifestyle changes, such as weight management or medication adherence.

3. How is Zoom optimising wellbeing and healthcare delivery?

Virtual visits through video collaboration platforms have become a staple of care delivery, enabling improved access to care with efficient use of resources. Zoom as a video communications platform can support both business and clinical operations, streamlining connections between providers, staff, patients, family members, and administrators. Today, Zoom is a global engine of innovation and connection used by millions of people in nearly 200 countries and territories - in fact, half a million businesses globally choose Zoom for their critical communications, including 7 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies. In the U.S., 9 of the top 10 hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News, chose Zoom.

Zoom meets the dynamic needs of healthcare organisations by allowing healthcare professionals to offer high-quality, cost-effective solutions. With patients at the center, Zoom’s multipurpose platform helps you enhance healthcare delivery and administration. In the healthcare continuum across the globe various applications like collaborative healthcare, telehealth, medical education, and population based care are effectively being utilized. Our brand recognition and ease-of-use makes us an easily adoptable platform to help integrate patients’ families into their care and patient room experience -- something that we are continuing to incorporate as we work with some of our hospital customers to create the patient rooms of the future.

New ideas such as installing bedside tablets - or leveraging existing entertainment in hospital rooms -- to host Zoom customers and enable seamless video communications with loved ones, are some innovative things being explored to improve the patient experience.

4. What are the latest innovations offered by Zoom for telehealth patients to easily and conveniently connect to care?

We work closely with our healthcare customers to understand the crucial role played by communication in every step from research and development, patient care, operations, and more. We improve our platform based on customer feedback and insights to create a more frictionless experience for healthcare professionals, patients, and families everywhere. Zoom has introduced many new capabilities to help our healthcare customers and their patients connect and communicate more easily, including:

● Waiting Room enhancements: Zoom introduced two-way chat in the Waiting Room, so users can send chat messages to patients who are waiting, and they can respond with questions or comments. Users can also upload a custom video to play while patients are in the Waiting Room — a perfect opportunity to highlight practice promotions or hospital news.

● Mobile browser client: Patients can join secure telehealth appointments right from their mobile browser without needing to download the Zoom app.

● Post-meeting survey: Gather patient feedback immediately after virtual appointments by setting up a custom post-meeting survey to launch once the session ends (not available with EHR integrations).

● Kiosk Mode: Providers can set up a virtual receptionist in the lobby to greet patients and direct them to their appointment while reducing the risk of exposure.

● Smart Gallery: If a healthcare entity uses Zoom Rooms, this feature helps make hybrid meetings more equitable. Smart Gallery uses cutting-edge AI and hardware to create individual video feeds of in-meeting participants, creating a better experience for off-site participants, such a patient and home nurse meeting from a rural location with a multi-disciplinary team in the hospital.

5. Which Zoom privacy & security features are best suited for telehealth?

Protecting sensitive patient data and health information is the topmost priority for any healthcare organization. Zoom as a virtual collaboration solution prioritizes security and privacy and helps support healthcare providers’ compliance through tailored features. These include:

● Advanced chat encryption: When enabled, allows for direct communication where only the sender and the intended recipient can access the message content, which helps medical staff coordinate quickly while safeguarding private patient data.

● Required meeting passcodes: You can create a passcode and share with patients via email so they’re required to type in the secure password to be able to join a telehealth session, helping to add an extra layer of security to the interaction.

6. How is Zoom as a collaboration platform spanning across use cases in the healthcare industry?

Zoom is being utilised for everything from virtual consultations to global collaboration across healthcare organizations, systems, and pharma-biotech companies.

● In India, Shyft - a global wellness platform was able to replicate the near-physical experience through an online medium and has made its presence felt in almost every corner of India.

● Opal Healthcare integrated Zoom across their 80 residential aged Care Communities in Australia with immediate benefits and the team is working to further improve resident care, building out its innovation team so that Opal remains at the forefront of aged care with Zoom playing a major role in future plans.

● Zoom has helped caregiving teams at Phoenix Children’s Hospital communicate, improving patient outcomes, all while decreasing technical support issues.

● At CrowdOptic, Medtech companies like Medtronic have even brought Zoom into the operating room to livestream surgical procedures with an intelligent video integration solution which provides greater access to knowledge, expertise, and critical support for surgeons, and opens up a variety of new applications for virtual care and support in the medical field.

7. Telehealth will continue to play a major role in the future of wellbeing and healthcare. What’s next in telehealth?

While emphasizing on treating patients where and how they prefer — at home, on the go, or in person, telehealth will continue to play a major role in a hybrid model of care. With this transformation, the industry will lower costs, waste less resources, improve access to care, and enhance patient outcomes. Looking ahead, we can foresee the continuous innovation of application of technology in everything from care delivery to medical training.

As decentralized clinical trials gain popularity, decentralization will become a key theme for health and life sciences organizations as it allows pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) to unbound their research from specific trial sites, provide a more accessible patient experience and reach a more diverse pool of patients. Decentralized business models will also allow organizations to collaborate on a global scale and work with the best and brightest minds.

A key pillar for all these innovations will continue to be communication. Across the continuum of care, virtual collaboration technologies will be part of how we enhance care delivery, develop life-saving drugs and devices, and enhance patient experience moving forward. Taking the same thought further, techniques and practices related to overall wellness and healthy living will also transition to be serviced virtually by collaboration platforms.

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