May 01 2023
Digital Workspace

Zoom for Healthcare: How To Enhance Telehealth Programs

Videoconferencing software such as Zoom brings new ways for care teams to collaborate and organize patients’ care plans.

Over the past few years, there has been uncertainty about whether telehealth will continue to be approved by the federal government, keeping hybrid healthcare at the forefront of growth in a patient-centric environment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended flexibility for Medicare telehealth billing until December 2024, and now telehealth programs are evolving as part of a hybrid approach, combining both in person and virtual engagements across the continuum of care, according to Amelia Eudailey, healthcare and life sciences industry program manager at Zoom.

One example of this is to conduct pre- or post-operative screenings from home, Eudailey says. Physicians can meet with patients remotely to collect preliminary information, then the patients can check into a clinical setting for their second point of care.

In another scenario, patients are no longer required to revisit a doctor's office to review lab work or results.

Eudailey says the idea is to weave telehealth through the continuum of care. Telehealth is also a valuable option when it comes to maintaining equity of care in remote areas where healthcare is difficult to access, Eudailey notes.

“It’s amazing to see the impact telehealth services have had for rural communities,” Eudailey says. “Providing equity of care is extremely important, and virtual care has propelled this forward.”

Here are some ways that healthcare organizations can optimize the use of telehealth visits and take them to the next level.

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Telehealth Carts Enable Clinical Mobility

As telehealth expands into different use cases, health systems are integrating telehealth into the operating room environment. Doctors can also incorporate other providers into the care session using telehealth carts from companies such as Capsa Healthcare, Logitech and Poly. Smart TVs incorporate functionality for telehealth and let patients toggle between entertainment and virtual case sessions.

Health systems can also embed Zoom Rooms technology on telehealth cart screens, Eudailey notes. Doctors can do rounds virtually as hospital staff wheel telehealth carts from room to room to check on patients.

Zoom Offers Custom Integrations for Healthcare

Health systems can integrate Zoom into telehealth sessions using patient experience software.

“There are hardware and software integrations that can be added to Zoom for telehealth that really improve the experience,” Eudailey says.

LEARN MORE: How strategies are accelerating around Internet of Medical Things devices.

During telehealth sessions, physicians access live video from devices such as handheld digital scope cameras. A physician’s assistant or nurse facilitates by holding the digital scope on a patient while the doctor checks out the patient remotely.

“You can have peripheral tools that plug in physically where you can have camera access to go on different places of the body,” Eudailey explains. “You can look at surgical sites and make sure the stitches are healing correctly. You can look at skin if there are lesions or moles.”

The Benefits of Zoom Team Chat Within Healthcare

Zoom Team Chat lets healthcare providers create channels, send direct messages and upload files to collaborate more effectively. Some health systems use Zoom Team Chat for all of their communication among nursing groups, physicians and administrators, especially while using the Zoom mobile app, Eudailey says.

Amelia Eudailey
It’s amazing to see the impact telehealth services have had for rural communities.”

Amelia Eudailey Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry Program Manager, Zoom

How Whiteboards Support Clinical Workflows

Collaborative whiteboards help care teams with patient care planning while enabling HIPAA compliance. This tool can be used for facility planning and coordinating services, Eudailey says, and healthcare teams can post sticky notes and access saved whiteboards later. Zoom Whiteboards also offer custom templates for personalization.

“Whether you’re determining a care plan for a patient with a group of team members, providing medical education or doing facilities management, a Zoom Whiteboard is a great tool,” Eudailey says.

Avatars, Backgrounds and Emojis Contribute to Patient Experience

In care settings that involve children, especially children’s hospitals and childcare centers, health systems can use avatars, special backgrounds and emojis to make virtual care more fun, Eudailey says.

“Those are just kind of fun things to lighten the mood and keep things relaxed for everyone,” she adds.

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Healthcare Meetings Beyond Telehealth

The healthcare industry is using Zoom for remote sessions beyond telehealth and virtual care. For example, organizations can provide remote coaching for wellness services such as weight loss programs. Zoom also supports multidisciplinary meetings of care teams, tumor boards and families, according to Eudailey.

“You can get physicians, case managers and family all together in one place and provide that parity of communication so everyone feels equal and involved in what’s going on, regardless of location,” she says.

In addition, hospital systems can use Zoom for webinars offering continuing education programs to educate patients on how to improve their care outcomes, Eudailey says. For example, health systems may run quarterly sessions to educate patients on diabetes and how to manage their diet. Sessions could include breakout groups and peer-to-peer interaction.

“You can use breakout rooms and challenge patients to think differently about their health,” Eudailey says. “Those have been really popular among our current clients.”

With virtual sessions such as cooking classes and workouts, healthcare organizations can promote a healthy lifestyle, Eudailey notes.

“Telehealth is just the beginning of what you can achieve with Zoom, and it complements all of these other programs well,” she says.

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