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November 28, 2012

Savings Predicted in Healthcare by Switching to WebRTC

WebRTC is likely to change communication in many sectors – and healthcare is no exception.

It can lead to a lot of savings, more efficient healthcare delivery, and improved patient care, according to the STC (Society of Telecommunications Consultants) blog.

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an API being drawn up by the World Wide Web Consortium, which enables Web browsers with real-time communications capabilities via Javascript APIs.

Chris Vitek, president, Enterprise Telemetry, explained in the recent STC blog post that some of the benefits with WebRTC are no longer using desk or wall phones in hospitals. That could mean between $4 million and $20 million in savings. There also would be less in maintenance costs, with savings between $1 million and $4 million. Also, there will be far less local or long distance telephone network charges at large healthcare facilities since WebRTC communications Internet Protocol is used.  That would lead to between $2 million and $30 million in savings a year.

WebRTC will also lead to quicker communication and therefore faster decisions. A likely result would be quicker discharges, with patients spending some three to six hours less in the hospital.

What makes the savings more likely is that most doctors and other healthcare professionals have a smartphone and/or tablet computer.

There will also be less need for patient phones in hospitals. Instead, they would use their own smartphone, tablet or PC.  That may lead to between $100,000 and $300,000 a year in savings. Patients at home can also use the technology to communicate with healthcare providers as well.

“Patients can click-to-text or click-to-call administrators to set, modify or get information about appointments from their patient web portal without the need to download an app to their browser equipped smartphone, tablet or PC,” Vitek said. “These communications would be initiated from a patient specific directly (drop-down box) embedded in the patient portal browser interface.”

Overall, larger hospitals could see tens of millions of dollars in savings for capital and operating expenses with WebRTC.

It comes as no surprise that Avaya, Cisco, Interactive Intelligence, Shoretel, Genesys, Mitel and Siemens are spending money to research and develop WebRTC interfaces.

Vitek was to take part in a WebRTC Conference on the topic this Wednesday.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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