Using Zoom for Telehealth & Virtual Care
Note: This blog was modified 4/7/20 with an updated encryption reference.
As we all navigate this period of social distancing, remote work, limited office hours, and widespread building closures, reliable video communications will continue to be important for helping people stay connected, especially in healthcare.
Zoom users have shared how telemedicine using HD video has been critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare professionals all over the world are using video technologies like Zoom so they can:
- Conduct online consultations, remotely diagnose patients, and provide treatment for routine checkups and non-life-threatening illnesses
- Remotely screen symptomatic patients before allowing them to visit an ER, clinic, or other testing sites
- Mass-train mental health therapists to prepare them for psychological consultations with doctors, patients, and their families that might be affected by the virus
- Assess supply inventories, equipment shortages, and coordinate deliveries
Additionally, U.S. congressional leaders have agreed on a massive funding bill to address the coronavirus outbreak that authorizes Medicare to waive geographic restrictions on telehealth. It also loosens restrictions on the use of a telephone to deliver care, as long as the phone has audio-visual capabilities.
Telehealth services can be an efficient, effective care mechanism in times of great public need but also for simplifying routine checkups, prescription refills, and general care as hospitals prioritize resources and treatment. Here’s additional information on the benefits of telehealth and tips for finding the right solution.
Benefits of telehealth
Video-based telehealth enables real-time collaboration and communications with doctors, labs, and specialists unencumbered by geographic constraints. Telehealth solutions can:
- Provide health education and preventative care for high-risk populations
- Improve care and capabilities in rural areas with limited broadband connectivity
- Provide behavioral and mental health services in one-on-one or group settings that patients can join from their homes
- Facilitate widespread and immediate coordination as well as real-time assessment of disaster preparedness and response
- Reduce travel and provide cost-effective continuing education/training for healthcare professionals
Support for population wellness
Video was already becoming a necessary component in delivering healthcare, not just for innovating care delivery but also for expanding access to that care. Enhanced, real-time communication connecting the entire ecosystem — doctors, nurses, patients, administrators, insurance companies, and others — supports population wellness and ensures remote and rural communities get equal access to care.
Video-based telehealth solutions help systems deliver comprehensive population wellness because:
- Appropriate treatments are delivered at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place, for the appropriate patient
- Clinicians use technology to more accurately diagnose and treat illness and deliver care
- All care delivery stakeholders across the ecosystem effectively and efficiently communicate and use information
- The correct individuals do the correct work (e.g., nurses handle patient care, not administrative tasks)
- Patients are informed and actively involved in their treatment plan
- New, cost-effective delivery models bring healthcare to places and people that don’t have it
Healthcare organizations considering video services certainly must leverage reliable, HIPAA-compliant technology, but these solutions also must simplify the process for every stakeholder — IT admins, doctors, nurses, and especially patients.
What to look for in a solution
Here’s what to look for in a quality video communications platform so that it adequately supports your virtual healthcare needs:
- Reliability and quality: HD video and audio that provides exceptional clarity and quality, so doctors can effectively assess the patient.
- Support for low-bandwidth environments: High-quality video has to work in low-bandwidth environments to bring services to patients in rural or other off-the-grid locations and enable comprehensive population wellness programs.
- Protection of existing investments: Using video services with the hardware and solutions you already have saves money offers an at-your-own-pace path to transformation.
- Simple deployments for IT and end users: Busy healthcare IT departments require solutions that are easy to use and that they can deploy easily. Simple user management and single sign-on are essential for less tech-savvy patients and doctors.
- Compliance and security: Comprehensive compliance and security protections ensure that users and administrators feel safe using a solution. A video-based telehealth solution must enable HIPAA compliance through 256-bit AES encryption for data in transit and at rest, and without accessing protected health information.
- Integration with business-critical systems: Seamless integration with EHR and EMR systems, particularly Epic, will enable your teams to launch a video visit directly from Epic telehealth workflows and update charts and telehealth records in real time.
- A broad partner ecosystem: An ecosystem of third-party providers will provide innovation in areas you may not have previously considered. For example, a video remote interpretation service quickly makes available medically trained interpreters to patients with limited or no English when local resources aren’t available.
- Recorded session reviews: Save your video appointments for consultation and review, and safely store your recordings locally for clinical applications or in the cloud for non-clinical use cases.
- Extended collaboration features: Connect specialists in different locations or across your hospital, campus, or remote facilities in real time with actionable intelligence, information, and capabilities. Annotating directly on a shared screen, for instance, makes notations visible to all attendees and improves collaboration and time to treatment.
- Device integrations: High-quality video functionality supports advanced telemedicine, such as the ability to examine and treat patients with far-end camera control, giving your organization access to specialists that may not be available for regular or urgent care.
Why Zoom for telehealth
With Zoom’s unified communications platform, healthcare organizations get:
- Secure video, audio, and content sharing across desktop, mobile, and conference room devices
- Support for HIPAA and PIPEDA/PHIPA compliance, including AES 256-bit encryption of all meeting data and chat messages
- Key collaboration features like screen sharing, whiteboarding, and annotation
- Patient privacy features like Waiting Rooms
- Zoom API access for integration with your important healthcare applications, including Epic, Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better
- Remote camera control
- Integrations for diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes
Here’s how a few modern organizations are using Zoom for telehealth and other healthcare initiatives:
- Moffitt Cancer Center, the top-ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast, uses audio and video to allow pathology teams to collaborate in real time with operating rooms. This leads to faster, more informed decision-making, less time under anesthesia for the patient, and the potential for better clinical outcomes.
- Hopecam is a national nonprofit that helps children with cancer connect with friends, classrooms, educators, and support systems while undergoing treatment. By using Zoom’s secure unified communications platform, Hopecam has been able to connect more than 2,000 students to 40,000 classmates in the U.S. and abroad.
- Stratus Video provides video remote interpreting services to thousands of hospitals and clinics. Patients and their families work with live interpreters who are trained in medical terminology, have experience communicating diagnoses, and are bound by a professional code of ethics.
- Video has enabled Regroup, a telepsychiatry company with more than 170 clinical sites, to provide care to patients who would not otherwise be able to access specialized care.