Avaya Gives Sneak Peak of Upcoming Healthcare Apps
Avaya will be going deeper into social and mobile territory with several forthcoming applications, but since their focus in on healthcare, the tablet-oriented products may get a more favorable reception than those that focus on social networking. "Concerns about privacy [and security] will make a lot of people think twice about sharing information over a social network," said industry analyst Rebecca Wettemann.
Avaya has provided a sneak preview of several healthcare IT-based mobile applications it will be rolling out later this year at the 2012 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition now under way in Las Vegas. These include Avaya Mobile Activity Assistant, Avaya Flare Communicator for iPad, and other collaborative service offerings in telehealth and social media.
Healthcare is one of Avaya's chief verticals, said Sanjeev Gupta, general manager of Avaya's Healthcare Solutions group.
"When you look at where the industry is going, you see that mobile collaboration and telehealth -- two areas of focus for us -- has become a critical area for firms. There are (US)$300 million to $400 million worth of opportunities in this space," he told CRM Buyer.
The common themes running through Avaya's next set of product releases include care coordination, patient interaction and telehealth/home-care delivery, said Gupta.
The Avaya Mobile Activity Assistant, for example, is a "closed-loop" HIPAA-compliant mobile application that prioritizes and consolidates nurse call alerts, critical result notifications, stat requests, and coworker messages.
It will be first available on the iOS mobile platform.
"What we did was create a single client that combines all of the communications forms that a nurse needs, from text messaging to phone calls to alarms and notifications," Gupta said. "The entire history of this communication is maintained on the system's back end."
Mobile Activity Assistant also lets users see if their coworkers are available -- it features "presence" in other words -- and gives them the ability to contact via voice or text. It also comes with preconfigured text messages to speed responses.
Enabling the iPad in the Hospital
Another new product release will be Avaya Flare Communicator for iPad for the healthcare industry. It is a tablet application to be used over secure WiFi and 3G networks.
It too comes with presence functionality, so the user can see if a specialist or clinician or a patient's particular doctor is available. Users can initiate instant messages, emails, calls and conferences as well. Flare Communicator for iPad also lets users share other important data such as X-rays and lab results.
Such applications are in high demand by hospital CIOs right now, Gupta said. "Enabling mobile devices with secure applications is a big challenge."
For example, the CIO of a large healthcare organization including a teaching hospital is in the process of equipping its doctors, residents and clinical staff with 3,000 iPads, he noted, so they can access patient records and better communicate on the go.
Social Media Outreach
Avaya is also introducing Avaya Social Media Manager later this year. Part marketing, part social media and part contact center and scheduling app, the product inserts a doctor's office into a social media conversation to offer relevant information -- and hopefully, a chance for the prospect to make an appointment.
Such conversations must be initiated carefully, Gupta acknowledged. He doesn't envision doctors or hospitals making unsolicited offers via the social media application. Rather, it will be used as part of an ongoing conversation.
"Suppose someone asks for a recommendation for a particular doctor's specialty or asks about which hospital is best for a procedure. Using Social Media Manager, the office can offer information -- say an article in U.S. News and World Report listing the top 10 hospitals where that type of surgery has the greatest success rate. Then, if the person is interested, the application can offer an appointment."
Such a product will be better received by a younger generation of patient, Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann told CRM Buyer.
"However, concerns about privacy and the security of social networks will make a lot of people think twice about sharing information over a social network," she added. For this reason, "we have not yet seen a lot of adoption of social media in the field of medicine."
By contrast, tablets have significant potential in this space, noted Wettemann. "We think we will see, as tablets become more broadly adopted, such applications grow -- especially as healthcare IT providers show the real benefits they provide to patients."
There are a number of security measures in both the social media and the tablet applications, Gupta said. With tablets, for example, the application can erase all patient data remotely if a tablet is lost or stolen.
Expanding Telehealth Opportunities
Avaya also debuted its Telehealth and Home-Care Delivery application at HIMSS.
A video communication tool, it gives home care nurses and rural hospital workers access to specialists around the world.
Users can initiate a video conference by selecting a link from an email. A nurse could conduct certain diagnostic tests -- for example, taking a throat culture. Then, the doctor at the other end of the video transmission would receive high-quality images of the test's results.
"Instead of driving two hours to an appointment -- for someone in a rural area -- or worse, having to wait several months for an appointment to see a specialist, a nurse at a local facility can help facilitate a video conference with an off-location doctor," Gupta said.