Feature Story

Zwana Unicom Brings Integrated UC Health Care Solutions to Africa

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  April 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of Unified Communications

Zwana Unicom is a telecommunications service provider catering to small and medium businesses throughout Africa. It helps them to reduce their telecommunications costs and improve their competitiveness and internal business processes through affordable, cost effective and easily scalable unified communications, business VoIP, and SIP trunking solutions.A distributor for CommuniGate Systems (News - Alert) in Southern and East Africa, Zwana Unicom has a special interest in the use of unified communications in health care.As Nigel Sinclair Thomson of Zwana Unicom, notes, unified communications is particularly important for organizations that are focused on health-related issues given the collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of health care. Health care, he says, is becoming more multidisciplinary due to the increased prevalence of chronic diseases.

“In addition, health care is communication intensive, patient lives are at stake, resources are scarce and most health care workers are mobile, either within an institution or within the community,” he says. “UC enables staff, nursing and medical staff to contact available resources initially by instant messaging and then escalate these communications to voice or video calls or conferences as required.”

Of course, there are many ways in which communications and collaboration technologies can be integrated with enterprise applications such as hospital or clinic information systems to improve health care business processes and patient care while reducing costs. Thomson (News - Alert) offers the following examples:

* basic telemedicine systems that enable remote facilities to collaborate and share files (including imaging files and reports) with available medical specialists, be they at the nearest referral hospital, at an urban centre of excellence or even across the world;

* web conferences between health care workers and interpreters with patients at remote clinics, allowing for the delivery of care to the patient rather than vice versa;

* self-service patient booking systems with automatic voice or SMS reminders to patients in an effort to reduce missed appointments;

*automatic reminders to outpatients to take their medicine and automatic notification of nursing staff in the event of patient non-adherence;

* integration with medical monitoring devices and infection surveillance system monitoring of patients with high risk of surgical site infection after surgery with automatic triggering of notifications to appropriate nursing staff if thresholds are exceeded;

* interconnection of UC with nurse call systems operating over wireless LANs so that patients and doctors can call available nursing staff members, while nursing staff members can contact doctors, in the event of an emergency;

* automatic notification of case management, catering, housekeeping or portering services after a patient’s admission or discharge;

* reduction of human latency in areas such as supply chain and treasury management.

“We are working with health care information system vendors to embed CommuniGate Systems' UC solutions into health care information systems such as hospital information systems, radiology information systems, and picture archiving and communications systems,” says Thomson.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi