Overcoming Communication Barriers During Trying Times

In early 2020, the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 caused a rapid spread across China and the rest of the world. Avaya and its business partners responded quickly, donating remote consultation video systems and remote visiting systems to frontline hospitals, helping slow and control the epidemic, meeting the visiting needs of patients’ relatives, and providing protection for medical staff.

Avaya also worked to ensure the operation of its customers’ businesses. The company immediately proposed remote/home agent solutions and proactively communicated with customers to understand their requirements for such a solution. Following implementations, customers could depend on the stable operations of their businesses.

Savio Tovar Dias, the Senior Director for Sales Engineering at Avaya International, spoke to Arabian Reseller, in detail.

What was the problem the hospitals were facing in terms of internal and external communications?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 virus appears to spread mainly through close physical contact and tiny droplets in the air. Needless to say, with diagnosis and treatment traditionally requiring doctors and healthcare professionals to be in close proximity to patients, this puts them at risk of being infected. As a measure to curb the spread of the virus, several hospitals have had to set up quarantine wards, limiting the ability of patients to engage with both family members and medical professionals.

In addition to the issues felt by patients and healthcare professionals, many countries have issued strict travel bans, which in turn have had a significant impact on business. All of this has raised barriers to communications and collaboration. To a large extent, these challenges can be overcome through the utilization of innovative, secure and easy-to-setup technology solutions.

How did Avaya approach the hospitals to deliver the solutions? Was there an intermediary?
Given the scale and severity of the outbreak, the Avaya team in China was well aware of the impact of the epidemic and the significant risk that the healthcare professionals on the frontline were facing. The team immediately saw the potential for Avaya technologies to be leveraged for medical assistance to be delivered without risk while maintaining that essential ‘human touch’.

The Avaya team in China reached out to the hospitals that were battling the crisis, and our partners such as Zhiang and Tengyue played a key role in these engagements. The teams worked to quickly donate audio and video systems and remote visiting equipment to hospitals such as Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan. Everything from development to delivery of these solutions was completed within just 48 hours.

What sort of team was involved in deploying the audio/video communications solutions?
These solutions were developed and deployed through the joint effort of communications and collaboration specialists from Avaya China and its integration partners.

Did the company involve a local channel partner/system integrator to get the job done?
Yes, for each deployment, the Avaya China team collaborated with a qualified local partner. This helped expedite the delivery process, saving precious time in this critical situation. These partners have also played a pivotal role in field deployment, installation, debugging, training and follow-up operation and maintenance.

Since deploying the communications solutions, how optimally have the hospitals been able to perform their functions in terms of internal and external communications?
In this particular scenario, the factors that needed addressing were getting doctors on board with the idea of communicating via video instead of face-to-face and meeting the healthcare sector’s strict privacy and compliance regulations. For the first, the Avaya team in China had to ensure the highest quality of the uninterrupted video so that it could be seen as an effective substitute for the in-person interactions. For the latter, our solutions employ the highest standards of security in both the transmission and storage of video data.

This means that privacy is maintained and if required, records of video conversations can be referenced by authorized personnel at a later point. These systems now enable patients and family members to communicate in and out of quarantine areas through video collaboration, greatly improving patients’ quality of life while in quarantine, and avoiding cross-infection during an epidemic.

Avaya’s technologies enable patients in the ward and families outside isolation zones to engage in two-way audio and video calls through a customized video-conferencing application. Family members can communicate with patients through video visits, which alleviates the psychological pressure felt by patients being treated for the COVID-19 illness and enables a “human touch” while at the same time preventing contamination of family members.

The solutions also enable more frequent communication between healthcare staff and patients and reduce the risk to healthcare staff of contracting the virus.

What sort of tech support is involved in assisting those using the solutions to communicate in an efficient and timely manner?
Now that the solutions are up and running, they require very little maintenance and support. Still, the Avaya team in China is constantly available for assistance, along with a network of the technical staff made available through qualified partners. Training and follow-up work is ongoing, meaning that, as soon as the solutions were deployed, medical staff and patients were able to instantly start benefitting from them.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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