A while back, I had posted about Virtual Visits to summarize some of the key information that was coming up in many conversations. The topic is still top of mind for many organizations, and one of the common additional questions is “how does this fit with making regular outbound calls?”
Great question! In short, both of these use the same communication platform from Microsoft, so you’re not having to implement multiple point-solutions to achieve different types of communication (whew). In fact even Microsoft’s Digital Contact Center Platform uses the same foundation (though in this post, we’re not focused on contact centers).
Through the course of the day, a physician or clinician might get value out of direct calling as well as ad-hoc conferencing.
Our users would benefit from both of these, how does that work?
Fortunately, having these capabilities stem from a consistent platform lowers a significant number of technical and administrative hurdles. Setting up users and turning on capabilities is consistent with other capabilities in Microsoft’s online services. If you’re not already using a Teams calling plan, reach out to your Microsoft account team. Once set up, they can use each tool for its respective job.
Starting an audio-only call to a telephone number meets an important need. Everyone knows how to use a dialer. Even better, it’s nice to be able to click-to-dial from an application.
Sometimes a voice/video conference can be helpful, such as needing to include a patient and caregiver all in the same call. Instead of a dialer, starting this kind of call requires more information, like where to send the conference/connection information. It’s not a huge burden, but it is slightly different in how you start the call.
From a user’s perspective, the difference in how to start these different types of calls results in “having to know which thing to use and when”…which, while functional, can seem like the burden is on the individual.
It’d be nice to have a simple, consistent, and flexible way of doing both approaches.
Can we have a simplified way for our users to do both?
Yes! In fact, the Ad-hoc/backup Virtual Visit app (mentioned in the intro to this post) is already flexible enough to handle clinical and non-clinical conference calls. Adding some additional flexibility to take advantage of direct calling is straightforward for someone who can build using low-code tools.
Configuring a single app for a tailored launch experience like this brings some added benefits. For instance it’s now easier to:
- Add your colors/logos/branding so the call launch experience feels native (or can have helpful reminders on the screen)
- Provide click-to-invite functionality, sending an invitation via SMS or email instead of dialing out directly
- Additional personalized automations can be initiated when starting a call
- Initiating different types of engagements from other systems, like an EMR, only have one app to interact with
I want to configure a launcher like this, is there a sample available?
In late 2022 a sample app was configured in Microsoft Power Platform (a platform for configuring apps) and published as sample code to Microsoft Open Source on GitHub.
microsoft/Virtual-visit-custom-launcher: An example of a custom virtual visit / call launcher that l...
This includes the deployable Power Platform Solution .zip file, suitable for a sandbox environment, as well as the raw source code.