UC Regrets, I Don’t Have a Few

Lisa Endlich Heffernan, of the Huffington Post, was recently featured on the Today Show, speaking to how she had many regrets in her life as a working mother and staying home after her third child was born. She felt that she let down all of the women who had come before her to make it possible to attain that “High Powered Career”.

“When you leave the fulltime workplace and become a stay-at-home mom, you begin to live in a world of women your own age with kids the same age as your kids and your experiences really narrow as the range of people you deal with narrows.” – Lisa Endlich Heffernan

There is a fine line parents walk when going back to work after having a child. Many feel guilty for relying on others to watch their child while they pursue their own dreams of a career. However, sacrificing a career to stay at home can leave a void that eventually turns into regret.

Thankfully, new developments in technology are eliminating that choice by allowing parents to work remotely in an effective manner.  Unified communications (UC) solutions can simulate the traditional office environment for most remote employees.  Video conferencing provides face-to-face interaction allowing remote employees to develop relationships with their peers.  Quick questions or generic small talk can be conducted through Instant Messaging. Not to mention presence information provides the same available or away status as walking past a colleague’s office.

Even better, enhanced interoperability with mobile devices allow parents to join important collaboration session from their iPad while sitting in the parking lot at their child’s swimming lessons. Now, parents can fulfill their intellectual desires by pursuing their career while having the flexibility to run up to school and drop of their child’s forgotten lunch or walk their child home from the bus stop.

The best part about enabling parents to work remotely is the increased talent pool for organizations. Parents who would have given up their career, like Lisa Endlich Heffernan, can contribute valuable insight to organizations without sacrificing the desire to be at home for their children.

Sara Sutton Fell, CEO & Founder of Flexjobs.com, even wrote an article about 15 surprising jobs parents can do from home; specifically mentioning CEO or Executive Director. However, the actual number of jobs that can be performed remotely far exceed this number when organizations implement UC and other video solutions.


Utilizing Collaboration for EMR Implementation

The thought of implementing a new Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system is enough to make anyone in a healthcare organization wake up in a cold sweat. Switching from paper charts to an entirely new way of providing patient care is a daunting task for most physicians as it requires a brand new set of processes and procedures.

However, the benefits of EMR can no longer be ignored. Not only does storing medical records digitally help prevent filing errors, patient records can be backed up in multiple locations significantly reducing the threat of losing patient health information in an emergency. Plus, the data is accessible almost anywhere allowing physicians to view medical history and treat a patient regardless of where they are.

As a result, five leading health systems have created the Care Connectivity Consortium to pioneer the use of electronic medical records. Together, Intermountain Healthcare (based in Utah), Geisinger Health System (Pennsylvania), Group Health Cooperative (Washington), Kaiser Permanente (California), and Mayo Clinic (Minnesota) are working to develop a secure way of sharing patient information regardless of the vendor used to originally create the record.

The five healthcare systems involved have an enormous geographic reach and access to large volumes of patients. They must work together to develop, test and implement processes and procedures to quickly access and share patient information across multiple different EMR systems. Additionally, the Consortium must address how to obtain a patient’s advance consent and then store it properly to ensure it is readily accessible in the event of an emergency visit, states Todd Allen in a blog article.

Visual collaboration technologies can help connect geographically dispersed members of the Care Connectivity Consortium and enhance the collaboration experience. Audio visual integrated rooms designed to support complex data allow participants to share multiple forms of content from multiple sources. Therefore, members participating in collaboration sessions can view different EMR interfaces side by side along with other data to help advance the EMR process.

These collaboration rooms can also be used within different areas in the health systems. For example, operations staff can meet to discuss best practices around EMR and other hospital operations. Roundtable sessions can also be conducted by connecting medical specialists and allowing them to discuss recent findings, best practices and treatment options.

Once the Care Connectivity Consortium has created an effective process, the organization can utilize collaboration solutions to train physicians, administrators and other staff members through recorded Video on Demand sessions. Embedded video clients can then allow anyone with questions to connect via video to an EMR specialist and receive clarification. Furthermore, embedding video solutions in the EMR system itself would allow doctors or nurses to connect with a patient’s primary physician.

As a mother of three very accident prone children, I have been to the Emergency Room in Intermountain Healthcare’s network. There is a small peace of mind in knowing that when we arrive, my child’s entire medical history will be available with just a click of a mouse. I applaud the Care Connectivity Consortium for their effort in advancing Electronic Medical Records and hope that one day mothers across the country are able to experience these same benefits.