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The global shift to video communications

By Omar Javaid, President, Vonage

The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt worldwide and organisations are being forced to adapt to survive in an ever-changing landscape. We are seeing a secular shift in the way businesses need to operate. This shift is driving a communications revolution across all industries and modes of communications — video, voice, messaging, email and verification. This is fundamentally changing how businesses communicate internally, as well as how they interact with, sell to and support their customers. Many traditional businesses are making the shift to digital, and those who have already made changes to the way they work and communicate, continue to improve their services to maximise efficiency and customer satisfaction.

 Shift in video usage trends

We’ve seen trends developing in digital behaviour, including a rise in eCommerce and subscription services, and a global surge in video usage. A report published by Vonage in April 2020 showed the rapid growth in video communications usage during the pandemic, including a 232 per cent increase in video traffic in March alone. Providing a unique insight into how organisations are leveraging programmable video solutions to stay connected even in a time of crisis, the report revealed that the Asia Pacific (APAC) region saw the highest increase in Vonage video minutes, noting a 244 per cent increase in April vs March. This was followed by the Americas which saw an increase of 157 per cent in April compared to March.

Two industries that have seen a notable uptake in video communications are healthcare and education. The latter saw a 92 per cent increase in April when compared to February, while the healthcare industry experienced a staggering 2,306 per cent increase in April versus February.

 Why is video being adopted by industries?

Long gone are the days where video conferencing required expensive hardware, or specialist training. Today, video solutions are much more accessible, enabling businesses of all sizes to create richer customer experiences by bringing people together globally through live interactive video sessions.

With many businesses transitioning employees from working at the office to their homes in response to the pandemic, video conferencing has become the easiest and most efficient way of staying connected with colleagues and customers. Video also humanises virtual communication and helps create a more personalised experience, particularly valuable for industries such as healthcare where sensitive issues may be discussed.

It’s vital for healthcare providers to be able to deliver a continuous, effective service when the unexpected happens, and adopting telehealth services means that those forced to self-isolate can access care from practitioners with thousands of miles between them, an important step to protecting other patients and healthcare professionals.

 Video usage in the healthcare industry

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Research from Vonage reveals that healthcare is now leading the way when it comes to video usage, but this wasn’t always the case. Advances in technology within the healthcare industry have historically been much slower*, partly due to affordability, accessibility, and privacy concerns.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, a sense of urgency accelerated digital transformation within the healthcare industry. Through communication technologies that use APIs to adhere to healthcare privacy and data management guidelines, patients can experience live interactive video sessions from their own homes. By adopting telehealth services, healthcare providers can offer patients safe and convenient care even if there are thousands of miles between them.

 What are the benefits of video communication in healthcare?

Virtual appointments enable healthcare practitioners to treat patients at a distance, offering invaluable treatment and guidance while limiting the spread of COVID-19. Accessibility is also improved for those who find attending an in-person appointment physically challenging. Through video API customisation, healthcare providers can grant and restrict access to video meetings to protect privacy, and send SMS messages to arrange follow ups, along with any ongoing care.

 Examples of video usage in healthcare 

DocPlanner, the leading healthcare booking platform globally, has been able to offer doctors the best possible support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, through its telehealth service. DocPlanner serves 20 million patients on its websites worldwide – generating 2 million bookings per month. In response to high demand for telehealth services amidst the global health crisis, it launched a new video consultation powered by Vonage’s Video API to enable 100,000 video consultations every day.

 What does the future of video communications look like?

Video is critical in keeping us connected – both professionally and personally. Vonage’s recent report shows video has become a mainstream addition to everyday life, as 55 per cent of consumers have used video to connect with businesses and service providers, up from 44 per cent in January.

What happens when we enter a post-COVID-19 era? We don’t know exactly when that will be, but what we do know is that remote working has become commonplace, and consumer trends show more people are using online services than ever before. We can expect to see a continuation of video consultations in the healthcare industry, due to its convenience and effectiveness. Additionally, video could become the norm for those in education – for example, if a pupil is unable to attend a classroom in person. We may also see more educators turning to dedicated e-learning and education applications over pre-existing video tools that have a more general audience.

Video provides more accessibility and allows businesses to safeguard for the future. Organisations from all industries can adapt to existing and future challenges by delivering services remotely.

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