You are here

Streaming Video Heating up Healthcare Markets

The Wainhouse Research Blog

News & Views
on Unified Communications & Collaboration


Streaming Video Heating up Healthcare Markets

By: -
22 Aug 2017

For many years now I’ve had a side interest – the use of video in the healthcare industry.  I’ve written about video conferencing use in the U.S. military, applications for video in the entire industry (pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, not-for-profits, state healthcare agencies, and integrated clinical care organizations, among others), and have monitored the growth of telemedicine and watched it begin to overcome traditional obstacles.

These days I think video is becoming an ingredient in the digitization of the healthcare industry overall. Most notably, that translates into one-to-many video (live streaming, recorded and archived content) gaining currency more quickly than ever before.  One obvious reason in the U.S. is that the delivery sector of the industry is working to contain costs, and on-demand video is one way to do that.  But other reasons relate to information sharing – rich information sharing – that suits the needs of all those stakeholders I mention above.  The healthcare industry is undergoing rapid evolution and often at such times new technologies take hold precisely because they help the industry deal with change.

Here are a few thoughts for those in the healthcare industry considering streaming video for the first time – or expanding existing use cases.

First, technology is only one of several ingredients you need to be successful when introducing streaming video: you also need to consider use cases, strategy, usability, deployment models, policy and compliance issues, metrics, and more. 

Think about communications needs and objectives   

While video conferencing traditionally has been purposed for real-time meetings or telemedicine (clinical diagnostics), streaming video is a Swiss Army knife, able to serve a wide variety of both real-time and on-demand use cases.  These include clinical care (perhaps live streaming and recording / distribution of grand rounds, specialization board meetings, or even sharing of advanced techniques), training (who wants to sit through an eight-hour class when they can obtain CME credits in smaller increments?), community building after an M&A, and patient education (whether related to clinical healthcare options or even information on insurance).  An emerging use case is creation of microlearning content, such as very short recordings describing how to use a technology or device.  Often practitioners receive one-time training on equipment they use only on occasion.  Microlearning is an answer to that challenge.

Think about your holy grail and whether streaming video can be that Swiss Army knife.  Are you streaming for CME, grand rounds, organizational messaging, community building, rapid response to organizational needs, patient / family education—or all the above!  

Identify thought leaders who can help drive viral adoption of streaming solutions

Your selection of use cases need to include a discussion of who will be your role models, those power users who are most likely to use the technology and make it viral. I’m not talking about the traditional concept of the champion here – those who are most vocal in evangelizing a technology during the acquisition process. I’m referring to those most likely to use the technology – the tech-savvy nurse who might want to do some ad hoc recordings, or the trainers who might be using an adjacent technology (such as web conferencing) who are hitting some walls in terms of what they can accomplish – and who need more robust capabilities.  The goal: when well used, it becomes viral.

Be receptive to the changes that result from video implementation

Video can be used for new use cases but also can change how your organization works as well. As an example, many organizations use a Learning Management System for compliance tracking, but require manual entries by administrators.  A video-based course can be integrated with an LMS or a part of a VCMS such that tracking and notifications are automated, helping to reduce workload.

Usability matters.

You’ve got to look for both a positive User Experience (UX) and the technical underpinnings that will make a platform meet your user and organizational needs.  A few of the elements that make a streaming video platform more usable are scalability (the ability to handle large events, or long recorded video sessions, or increased numbers of users over time), as well as how the platform performs either behind the firewall, or in cases where communications are outside of an organization, across a firewall.  And it goes without saying: how your users interact with the front-end of the technology can make or break a deployment.

HIPAA matters.

 If your organization is delivering clinical content where patients may be identified, pay attention to policy and approaches to user authentication and access.  Do you need to have an encryption scenario?  Are you making content accessible via an LMS or VCMS where you’ve got to have not just single sign-on but also role-based access?  One of my favorite “uh oh” anecdotes was about a teaching hospital where a nursing school had some students who were piling quite a bit of patient related data (videos, clinical notes, etc.) into their LMS, without paying attention to respecting HIPAA requirements.

Bandwidth and network management are important!

Not all corporate networks are created equal.  The experience for your users may not be the same as what they get at home with Netflix or Hulu unless you work with your network administrator and vendor partners to understand your current network architecture. Obviously use cases will affect this, but do you need to modify your network to support streaming?  Do you need to add Enterprise Content Delivery Network (ECDN) support?

Pay attention to analytics / metrics and ROI.

Here’s the fun thing about video in healthcare: it can be mission critical, and it can become an essential element of an organization’s mission, so often it may not require proof of ROI.  Having said that, don’t stop paying attention to any metrics you can gather.  This can range from travel savings (reducing quantity of meetings or trips for meetings/education/training) to numbers of programs and stakeholders served (training courses delivered, hours of content recorded, and so on).  These metrics matter when it comes time to expand or upgrade. 

Fasten your seatbelt. 

People get creative in deploying streaming video.  I’ve seen nurses record how to operate equipment using their iPhones to create microlearning videos for their peers.  I’ve seen organizations create rapid-fire responses to health care policies or insurance issues as the real of healthcare has undergone rapid change here in the U.S.  I’ve seen the military deploy streaming video as a means of supporting troop surges, providing remote specialist care and helping address specialist shortages and specific soldier/family needs.  Bottom line: you want to be as strategic as you can be, then embrace your stakeholder needs.    

My colleague Steve Vonder Haar and I are delivering a webinar this coming Thursday, August 24th at 2 PM EDT U.S. on some recent work we’ve done on the healthcare industry.  We’ll dig into five unique organizations:

  • Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS), the largest private group medical practice in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the United States
  • The GE Healthcare Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) unit within GE Healthcare
  • ABC for Health, a Wisconsin-based, not-for-profit public interest law firm
  • Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI), a not-for-profit in the state of Michigan
  • St. Vincent – Evansville (Indiana), a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system and world’s largest Catholic health system.

Plus we’ve got some terrific new stats from a recent survey on what healthcare professionals think about the value of video, what are the metrics for effectiveness, and what their organizations should be doing more of.  You may register for Prescribing New Solutions for Communications in Health Care: Five Ways Video Streaming Improves Efficiency and Patient Care or, if reading this after the 24th of August, 2017, access an archived version of the webinar.   Thanks to Sonic Foundry for sponsoring this live event.