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Feb 28, 2019

Remote collaboration is how we work now 

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

New technological advances, as well as geographic realities, make remote collaboration easier and more necessary than ever before

Remote collaboration – the concept of co-creating or collaborating with another person or group not physically located in the same location – continues to gain traction in the healthcare space.

 

New technological advances, as well as geographic realities, make remote collaboration easier and more necessary than ever before. As we look ahead in the healthcare industry, the future of collaboration is becoming clearer: we

need to change the paradigm and reach across the network and allow clinicians to connect with others and take advantage of their expertise and guidance, no matter where they’re physically located.
 

From my experience, remote collaboration is often driven by two causes: continued consolidation of health networks and the pursuit to standardize high-quality practices within and across care networks.

Consolidation Makes It Urgent

Consolidation of both resources and organizational processes creates new pools of experience and capability among healthcare stakeholders, which demands that overall skill and care delivery levels be elevated and balanced. Increased healthcare consolidation activity also has led to the aggregation of subject matter experts together. Facilitating ongoing remote communication and knowledge-sharing will be critical to helping clinicians address patient needs and deliver positive outcomes.

 

I am struck by the clear and present need for new collaboration tools as I speak with industry stakeholders. They emphasized the need for telehealth and tele-ultrasound offerings to better engage remote collaboration to optimize patient outcomes and link new partners. It was interesting to hear how prevalent this conversation was – not only among the North American attendees, but those from around the world as well. The pressure on sharing their expertise and knowledge has continued to challenge their thinking about how to be in “multiple places at once” and better share best practices. As lead of the Philips Point-of-Care Ultrasound business segment, I feel an obligation to take this challenge on and am excited about the opportunity to help our customers more efficiently and effectively connect with their peers, medical experts and most importantly, patients.

When designed and executed successfully, remote collaboration tools make it not only possible but easy for care providers to tap into their wider network to better analyze and treat life-threatening conditions across the world. 

Dissolving Geographic Barriers (or, Making the World Smaller)

Remote collaboration allows clinicians to tap into skilled resources who can provide the right experience at the right time, but to do so, all involved need to have access to – and actively embrace –an open communications platform.

 

When designed and executed successfully, remote collaboration tools make it not only possible but easy for care providers to tap into their wider network to better analyze and treat life-threatening conditions across the world. Remote collaboration tools also serve the growing desire to standardize high-quality care across networks and care locations.

 

One of most powerful examples of this potential occurred in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti last year. I learned of a local Haitian physician who, when the earthquake occurred, owned a Philips Lumify with Reacts device, which is not only incredibly portable, but also features integrated tele-ultrasound capability. At the time, he had been learning more advanced ultrasound diagnostic techniques from a peer in Montreal, who ultimately assisted in remotely advising on optimal scanning views in real time. Using the device, the two physicians were able to share the ultrasound experience and work together to enable the physician at the point of care to confidently diagnose the patient.

 

One of the most exciting things about Lumify with Reacts – as well as similar tools that allow this new type of innovative clinical partnership – is that it expands access to high-quality care to underserved populations around the world. Prior to these resources being available, care providers were often limited in what they could do for their patients, particularly those in rural or remote developing areas. Now, remote collaboration tools allow them to tap new resources in order to solve and treat the most pressing medical challenges, anytime, anywhere.

Fostering Cultures of Trust

Of course, it’s important to acknowledge that there are elements of trust and efficiency that are typically more easily forged when resources are co-located. Having the ability to engage in more frequent and spontaneous communication with one’s peers is powerful, and there are strategies that teams can implement to accommodate this when spread across different geographies. For example, by establishing regularly-timed face-to-face meetings (either virtually, or in person, if budget allows), stagnant conversations can be recharged. Tactically-speaking, I’ve arranged these types of meetings around key milestone events, and often include some elements of deliberate team-building activities, making extra efforts to engage remote participants so everyone feels included. This level of interaction has the potential to diminish burnout, a typical symptom of extended remote coordination.

 

Remote collaboration can positively impact an organization’s care for their patients and learning processes. I’m thrilled to see all the advances we’re making and impact that remote collaboration can provide for people all over the world. I look forward to seeing how this new field continues to grow and mature in the future.

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Randy Hamlin

VP Business Segment Leader, Point-of-Care at Philips

Randy Hamlin is shaping a new market space in diagnostic ultrasound with a vision to connect clinicians and patients to ultrasound at the point of care. He has led both engineering and marketing organizations during his time at Philips and speaks regularly at innovation and industry events on the topic of creating disruptive solutions and services that can improve healthcare.

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