Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stay at Home!

At the University of California San Francisco's Carol Franc Buck Breast
Care Center, patients don’t need to come in for an appointment. Rather than waste time and energy in transit and wait passively to hear what the doctor has to stay, patients log in and have a toolbar of resources, are examined via webcam when possible and get both more frequent and more engaged treatment. The Center has a thriving online practice. Patients no longer have to fly to experts for diagnosis, making it easier for both patients and doctors to fit doctor consultations into their schedules.

Furthermore, in complicated cases like breast cancer, usually there are many trade-offs necessary during treatment. Patients sometimes let doctors decide, but increasingly are being pulled into the decision-making process. In an online consultation, resources can be personalized to the case at hand and given to the patient prior to meeting with the doctor online, letting patients make informed choices and ask questions based in research. Patients can also consult with multiple experts quickly and with a minimum of scheduling, allowing them to synthesize information from multiple sources.

And that’s not the only opportunity for wireless to enable communication. Texas Instruments has found that product development is smoother and elicits more participation from every member. Instant messaging combined with PowerPoint allows developers to fire off questions as they arise, without needing to remember them, and they can ask them in context. Texas Instruments found that this was particularly true for non-native English speakers, and in an increasingly global company that’s a vital consideration.

E-learning in companies is much debated, but at Accenture it’s a solid part of a blended program, where virtual and in-person learning are combined for best effect. Furthermore, most consultants work almost entirely online, with rare face-to-face meetings.

And Fleet Securities, Inc., a banking firm, has found that combined with the decrease in paperwork through virtual collaboration, they also have far better service to corporate investors. For instance, there are never any delays at the printer’s office because everything is posted online immediately. Revisions can occur quickly and with universal effects.

[Source: Overholt, A. (2002) “Virtually There?” Fast Company, Issue 56, March]

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