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Why Integrating Telehealth Video Tools with EHRs Streamlines Care

Integrating telehealth video tools with EHRs can streamline communication and data sharing for clinicians and patients.

telehealth video tools

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Telehealth adoption rates are growing and organizations continue to add technology to their telehealth programs. This increases the need for telehealth video tools that are HIPAA compliant and easy to use.

Video conferencing is a large part of telehealth. Patients may need to communicate with their doctors from home or clinicians will conference in with providers from other healthcare organizations. Healthcare video conferencing tools need to be streamlined and easy to use for patients and clinicians, while also streamlining the process by integrating with other health IT infrastructure tools.

Zoom announced the release of its cloud-based telehealth video service that integrates with Epic EHR. The video solution aims to help organizations with virtual patient care workflows, remote patient monitoring, remote specialist visits, population health management, and care coordination.

“Zoom prides ourselve in creating user-friendly, secure virtual environments to connect healthcare enterprises, caregivers, and consumers for the best care experiences,” Zoom Founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan said in a statement. “Now, with the introduction of Zoom for Telehealth and the integration with Epic, we are further streamlining and simplifying the process for healthcare administrators and their end users to deploy and use Zoom for healthcare.”

The collaboration between Zoom for Telehealth and Epic integrates Zoom into EHR records and workflows. A video conference can be launched directly from the workflow, making it easier to collect and store patient data.

The video tool works with Epic Hyperspace and can also be implemented with Epic MyChart, Haiku, and Canto. The tool is also compatible with Epic versions back to 2014.

The solution includes pre-configured cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing along with support for desktop, mobile, and conference room systems. It also uses End-to-end AES-256 bit encryption for all video data and instant messaging.

Along with integration with Epic, the solution also includes platform API/SDK for integration with other healthcare applications to further streamline workflow. It has remote camera controls and integrates with point-of-care peripherals.

The tool also comes with a signed business associate agreement (BAA) to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Video conferencing for telehealth is becoming a staple in remote care, especially for patients communicating with their caregiver from home. An easy to use, HIPAA compliant tool is necessary for these remote communications to be successful.

Not all patients are tech savvy enough to understand the potential risk of communicating with a non-compliant tool. If patients are given a tool that is already compliant, organizations don’t have to worry about security from the patient end of the call.

User-friendly solutions are also critical to telehealth video conferencing success. If the tool is not easy to use, organizations can face the threat of shadow IT where individuals are using tools that are not approved by IT and not necessarily HIPAA compliant. 

Quality video conferencing is also vital to telehealth program success. The healthcare industry in particular cannot tolerate poor connections and poor video quality.

Poor video quality has plagued healthcare organizations before including Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

“In healthcare it’s not like a business conference where you can tolerate some poor quality and metal through it,” Director of Telemedicine at Children’s Mercy Morgan Waller  told HITInfrastructure.com. “Poor quality connection is a total dealbreaker for us.”

Streamlining workflow makes data collection easier for clinicians and cuts back on overall costs because organizations don’t have to spend as much time with the patient logging into and out of different tools. 

Secure, usable, and reliable video conferencing tools are critical to the success of telehealth programs. Video tools that integrate with other aspects of health IT infrastructure are valuable, especially as interoperability between healthcare applications becomes more important for streamlining workflow.

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