HealthBlog readers know I'm passionate about this topic. There is nothing more important to the patient care process than seamless communication and collaboration amongst members of the care team and between the providers of care and their patients.
With this week's release of our Unified Communications platform, the capabilities I could only dream of ten years ago have become reality. And not just for what could be accomplished in healthcare, but for what is actually being done right now in healthcare.
As is more often the case than not these days, some of the latest evidence comes from outside the United States. Eastern Health is the second largest health provider in Melbourne, Australia, caring for a population of more than 800,000 people. Based on highly positive feedback and results from a pilot of 100 users, Eastern Health plans to implement our latest Unified Communications capabilities for more than 4000 of their staff working across the organization's five hospitals. Using Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 with Unified Messaging in conjunction with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Eastern Health will have a unified communications environment that offers extended capabilities and improves patient outreach.
Hospital staff will enjoy the benefits of Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging delivering e-mail, voice mail, and faxes to users’ inboxes. Users can access that information from familiar clients such as the Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 messaging and collaboration client, or from a telephone using Microsoft Office Outlook Voice Access. With Office Communications Server 2007, users can send instant messages and see the availability of other employees through presence awareness. Presence signals a user’s availability using a colored alert linked to that person’s presence status as set in his or her Office Outlook 2007 calendar or Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 client. Unified Communications will also enable rich video and audio conferencing and full integration with Office Live Meeting; technology that is proving to be extremely valuable in hospital and clinic settings for staff education, training, and outreach activities with medical staff, community members and patients.
I predict Unified Communications is going to be huge in healthcare. We are embarking on a new era that will extend the reach of every organization and clinician for the delivery of health information and medical services.
I'm planning a trip "down under" to visit customers and partners in that part of the world early next year. I can't wait to see the innovative ways Unified Communications is being deployed to better serve clinicians and patients all across Australia. Who's next?
Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft Corporation