Time is a precious commodity for caregivers, so any healthcare collaboration technology introduced to hospitals and clinics will likely get a warmer welcome, and have broader use, if the training to use those digital tools is minimal and getting started is fast and easy.

A recent study found that even when physicians are in the exam room with patients, much of that time is taken up entering data into health records systems.

Doctors, nurses and specialists need to be able to gather — often on short notice — to review findings, develop patient care plans and delegate tasks, and not be waylaid by having to search for available meeting space or getting tech set up. That’s why new interactive whiteboard and conferencing technologies emerging in the marketplace show the same promise in medical settings as they do in corporate and education environments.

A new type of interactive display, the Samsung Flip is more portable, more affordable and most of all, easier to learn and use than conventional digital boards used in healthcare settings. The Flip was designed to be so intuitive people can just walk up and start using it.

Meanwhile, collaboration tools tuned to changing corporate workspaces — designed for impromptu huddle spaces instead of large, schedule-driven meeting rooms — are ideal for busy, on-the-go caregivers looking to communicate and share insights.

The New Flipchart

Medicine is complicated and constantly changing, and there’s a steady need to explain conditions and treatment plans to patients and caregiver teams. Previously, the only real tools available to educate patients in their rooms were notepads, flipcharts and small portable whiteboards. Tablets have in recent years brought digital into patient care, but on small displays that aren’t so well suited to the show-and-tell requirements of group discussions.

A modern spin on those old paper flipcharts has been introduced by Samsung, with the idea that the Flip can bring a fully interactive whiteboard display right to the patient bedside, or to wherever treatment discussions are held. With a shape that emulates old easel-based flipcharts, the Flip is light enough to easily wheel around wards and between floors.

The Flip works just like a paper chart, allowing caregivers to quickly draw out diagrams, such as how a coronary bypass is done or where pins will be inserted on a broken limb. As many as four people can work at once on a Flip display, and users can select markup colors and the thickness of their writing or sketches. Notes, charts and images can all be annotated.

Users can connect their computers to the Flip via standard HDMI, or screen-mirror content via WiDi from laptops or mobile devices. Instead of trying to explain the treatment path and plan, a caregiver can just show them images and even videos. Steps can be drawn out and listed on Flip pages, which are then easily and securely saved to the cloud and shared. If a family member would like to have a copy of the action plan, that file can be emailed right off the Flip.

The displays are network-ready and connected by Wi-Fi or Ethernet cables, allowing users to tap into files stored and available on a network. That might mean caregivers could do anything from calling up lab tests and medical imaging to sharing photos or reports of people who’ve had successful outcomes from procedures that are worrying the patient and family. The technology changes the traditional doctor-patient dynamic, enabling active, visual collaboration that’s engaging for patients and families, and convenient for their providers.

Huddling Up

From discovery to treatment to recovery, healthcare has a lot to do with active collaboration. People need to talk, and there’s always value in sharing experience and differing opinions.

There are highly structured, almost ritualized aspects to some aspects of physician routines in hospitals, like rounds and review panels. But there are also times when snap discussions are necessary to sort out what’s going on with a patient’s deteriorating or bewildering conditions, and the right people need to quickly gather and work the problem.

Corporate environments are increasingly using open office plans and encouraging agile, team-based solutions — leading to the rise of huddle spaces that allow for impromptu, unstructured meetings and offer easy, informal and naturally familiar tools for group collaboration. These spaces can be particularly valuable when specialists are scattered across a medical campus or around the globe. Face-to-face meetings that aren’t feasible because of time, distance and cost can be quickly arranged for patient case conferences, and patients and families can have remote consultations with specialists before making potentially life-altering decisions.

The popularity of huddle spaces and needs for on-the-spot collaboration have influenced products like huddle space solutions that, like the Flip, are designed to enable easy, productive meetings. Samsung and HARMAN collaborated to create four huddle room solutions, from basic video conferencing all the way up to enterprise solutions with ultra high-definition displays, wide-angle HD cameras, touch overlays and smart devices for content sharing. They’re designed for quick, simple start-up and easy, intuitive use, and the kind of small footprint that’s important for many space-constrained healthcare facilities of all sizes.

Research has found that, for every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, they spend almost two hours on data entry and desk work. Technology that can cut back on paperwork and raise the quality of time with patients and colleagues would be welcomed — but only if it doesn’t consume more time setting things up and trying to remember how they work. Fortunately, a new generation of interactive and collaboration technologies is solving all of those problems.

Learn more about the healthcare technology solutions that are improving hospital workflows and improving the patient experience.