The news about Microsoft's growth in Teams usage has overshadowed even more impactful innovations Redmond has produced for the healthcare space. These innovations are not just driving usage within the sector, but are delivering meaningful assistance to healthcare organizations during critical times.
The Use Cases:
Four specific health use cases have been resonating.
- Virtual rounding – for caregivers in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home hospice, the risk of interacting with sick patients has never been higher. When a caregiver needs to check-in but needn’t physically touch the patient, virtual rounding can reduce that risk, and allow the caregiver to be far more efficient. The caregiver stays safe in their office, using Teams on a PC, tablet, or mobile device. The patient video chats through the Teams app on a tablet from their room. Rather than strapping on PPE and visiting in person, the caregiver stays healthy and handles multiple patient more efficiently.
- Health bot – an AI-enhanced interactive chat experience that can help patients get answers over the web to common questions, or triage them to speak with a live agent, through Teams-enabled web-chat apps like Enabling Studio. It’s a SaaS app that is ideal for providers, pharmas, tele-medicine providers, and insurers.
- Patients app – Microsoft has no intention on becoming the source of truth of the Electronic Health Record, but instead publishes FHIR-standard connectors for Teams to access data in EHR systems. The Patients app enables patient care teams to curate and review lists of patients for scenarios ranging from rounds and team meetings to general patient monitoring. It’s already available in the Teams app store.
- Televisits – Patients on their home PCs or tablets can visit with caregivers on their work devices without the hassle and risk of being in-person. Meetings can be scheduled through Outlook, Teams, or through an EHR-integrated scheduler.
Preparing to Enable the Use Cases:
When preparing to use any of the above, important decisions need to be made. Enabling Technologies is Microsoft’s four-time Partner of the Year recipient for Intelligent/Unified Communications because we are straightforward with our customers about the caveats and capabilities of Microsoft’s solutions. For instance, with virtual rounding, it’s imperative for compliance and ease of use to lock down the tablets the patients use (with Intune or another MDM service). Similarly, televisits are being approved for insurance payments during the COVID-19 crisis, but long-term payer agreements haven’t been inked.
Teams’ Core Healthcare Components
Microsoft Teams holds a unique place in the healthcare ecosystem due to its:
Compliance – HIPAA compliant since its inception in 2017, Teams is in the most stringent class (D) of compliance within the Office 365 suite. Teams also abides by ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC), and supports Cloud Security Alliance compliance. Details can be found in Microsoft’s Data Protection Resources.
Privacy – while the service is managed in a HIPAA-compliant manner by Microsoft, healthcare organizations can take further steps to ensure employees keep PHI and other confidential information safe. Teams uses the Security and Compliance Center controls within Office 365, enabling Data Loss Prevention through scanning/filtering/blocking of files, shares, and messages.
Governance - Controls on who can create Teams, schedule meetings, and retire / erase Teams and content are available. This is a commonly overlooked ‘soft’ skill within collaboration tools, but shouldn’t be overlooked. You can see concrete data on how organizations are governing Teams in a recent Enabling blog. Enabling’s Governance Workshop outlines some of the important addressable areas.
Security – Teams enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption. Notes are stored in OneNote and are backed by OneNote encryption. Of course, using Teams for secure messaging is far more compliant than Instant Messaging or Facetime.
Full Feature Set – Unlike standalone videoconferencing telehealth solutions, Teams is a suite of audio/video, meeting, messaging, collaboration, and phone system services. Microsoft has even released templates for Healthcare organizations, to allow standardized Teams to be created for internal departments such as cardiology, care wards, etc.
Cost – the ability to use the Teams service is included with most Office 365 suites.
Performance – Teams is built on Azure, Microsoft’s global data center and network service. Scaling from 20M (unique) daily users to 75M in six months has shown the scalability and durability of Azure and Teams.ni
If your healthcare delivery, pharma, or telemedicine organization has embarked on the path to Teams, Enabling Technologies has a 13-year history with Microsoft’s UC/IC systems in healthcare. Contact us for questions anytime.